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The Chalah and the Russian administration in the second half of the nineteenth century

Zaravshanskii okrug. Evreiskaia shkola v g. Samarkandie (Zaravshan okrug. Jewish school in Samarkand; between 1865 and 1872) - Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin - Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA).
Zaravshanskii okrug. Evreiskaia shkola v g. Samarkandie (Zaravshan okrug. Jewish school in Samarkand; between 1865 and 1872) - Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin - Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA).

 In 1908 another name was added to the list of Chalah Jews living in Tashkent: Rafail Barakov, a 15-year-old youngster, who had escaped from Bukhara to Tashkent where he remained for some time.(68) He was taken in by Rabbi Shlomo Tazher, spiritual leader of the Bukharan Jews of Tashkent, who converted Barakov back to Judaism. Consequently, (according to a report sent to the Governor-General of Turkestan by the political agent in Bukhara) the fugitive was n danger of being executed in Bukhara if he returned there.(69) The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the War Minister approved the Governor-General's request and granted Barakov a residence permit in Turkestan.(70)

       In 1910, the law of 1900 finally took effect after several delays, and, su bsequently, several hundred Bukharan Jews who were not Russian subjects received orders to leave Turkestan. Among this group were some Chalah Jews. Worried about their fate, A. Kirsner, the state-appointed Ashkenazi Rabbi of Tashkent, sent cables to P. Stolypin, Minister of Internal Affairs, and A. Samsonov, the Governor-General of Turkestan, who was in St. Petersburg at the time.(71) In response, the Governor-General gave orders to postpone the deportation of the Chalah Jews until the issue of their fate could be resolved.(72)

       In October 1910, a decision about the fate of the Chalah Jews was made by the War Ministry: they were to be exiled to the frontier towns of Turkestan - Petro-Aleksandrovsk, Samarkand, Katta-Kurgan, Old Marghelan, Kokand, and Osh - which were designated as places of residence for Bukharan Jews who were non-Russian subjects admitted to merchant guilds I or II.(73) However, the obscurely worded memorandum by the General Staff was interpreted incorrectly by A. Samsonov; in his instructions to the provincial Military Governors, he made permission for the Chalah to remain in Turkestan dependent on their joining merchant guilds I or II in one of the six border towns of Turkestan.(74)

       Fearing deportation, some of the Chalah joined merchant guilds.(75) The majority, however, being unable to pay guild I and II fees, once again faced the threat of deportation to the emirate. It was only due to the dilatory functioning of the Turkestan bureaucratic machinery that the Chalah Jews were not deported to Bukhara. Consequently, it was only in April 1911 that the Chalah of Tashkent received travel documents that enabled them to go to Samarkand and Kokand.(76) They remained in these border towns for two years before the Turkestan authorities ordered them, on the basis of Samsonov's memorandum of October 30, 1910, to leave the territory of Turkestan.(77)

       In 1913, the Russian press came out in defense of the Chalah. The newspaper Russkaia molva wrote: "The local administration is now deporting these Chalah because they had obviously moved to the region only after its occupation by the Russians. Meanwhile, if they do return to Bukhara, they may be executed there as apostates."(78) Reporting from Tashkent on the pending deportation of Bukharan Jews to the emirate, the Russkoe slovo correspondent wrote: "…Many of them are threatened with death if they return since many of them had been converted to Islam by force centuries ago and, when Turkestan was annexed by Russia, they hastened to return to Judaism which, according to Muslim laws, is punishable by death."(79) This report was reprinted by Birzhevye vedomosti and by Rassvet.(80)

       These reports did not go unnoticed. The War Ministry sent newspaper articles about the Chalah to the Governor-General of Turk-estan together with instructions to postpone the deportation of the Chalah to Bukhara.(81)  As can be seen from the urgent memorandum sent by Governor-General Samsonov to the Military Governors of the Syr-Darya, Samarkand, Fergana, and Semirechenskaia oblasts, he admitted that his previous orders of October 30, 1910, had been incorrect and gave new instructions to allow the Chalah Jews to reside in the border towns of Turkestan without the obligation of joining merchant guilds.(82)

            On the eve of the October revolution of 1917, Bukharan Chalah Jews resided in only two border towns of Turkestan, Kokand and Samarkand, and numbered a total of 160. (See the table below.)(83)


(68) Ibid, Op. 13, D. 212, p. 262.

(69) Ibid., p. 264.

(70) Ibid., p. 266.

(71) Ibid, Op. 17, D. 849, p. 45.

(72) Ibid., p. 59.

(73) Ibid., p. 166; D. 811, p. 256.

(74) Ibid, F. 1, Op. 17, D. 849, p. 168; Ibid, D. 811, p. 257.

(75) In May 1913 Chalah Abdurakhman Rubinov was given a residence permit for Samarkand  upon joining a merchant guild. See Amitin-Shapiro, Ocherki, p. 44.

(76) TsGAUz, F. 17, Op. 1, D. 11362, pp. 14-16v.

(77) Ibid, D. 1211, p. 8.

(78) Russkaia molva, no. 148, May 15, 1913, p. 6.

(79) See the newspaper clipping: TsGAUz, F. 1, Op. 17, D. 936, p. 272.

(80) Birzhevye vedomostsi, October 24, 1913; Rassvet (The Russian Zionist publication), no. 44, November 1, 1913, p. 40.

(81) TsGAUz, F. 1, Op. 17, D. 936, p. 272; ibid, F. 22, Op. 1, D. 1211, pp. 7-7v.

(82) ibid, F. 1, Op. 17, D. 812, p. 162; ibid, F. 19, Op. 2, D. 264, p. 4.

(83) For the 1902 and 1910 data, see TsGAUz, F. 1, Op. 4, D. 1451; Op. 13, D. 212, p. 109v; D. 554, p. 205; Op. 17 D. 849, pp. 75-78, 141, F. 17, Op. 1, D. 10437, p. 29; ibid, D. 11260, pp. 68-68v; ibid, F. 19, Op. 1, D. 15235, p. 87; ibid, F. 21, Op. 1, D. 618, pp. 1-7. For the 1917 data and related topics, see TsGAUz, F. 1, Op. 17, D. 1074, p. 37; ibid, F. 17, Op. 1, D. 11362, pp. 14-16v; ibid, F. 1, Op. 13, D. 212. p. 109; ibid, Op. 17, D. 849, p. 41.