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The history of the Jewish people of Kazakhstan is a long difficult history. Beginning in the 17th century the majority of the Jews of Kazakh were Russian. At that time there were probably no synagogues so most services would have taken place in private homes. These early Jews were mostly Ashkenazic.

Many Jews also arrived in Kazakhstan as exiles from the Pale of Settlement under the Communist rule of Joseph Stalin. During World War II almost 10,000 Jews fled the Holocaust and made their homes their as well.

Today, the Jews of Kazakhstan are for the most part Russian speaking people who live a life that is very similar to the culture of their Russian neighbors. There are about 25,000 Jews in the country with the largest group, numbering about 10,000 living in the city of Almaty. The country of Kazakhstan is very large, about four times the size of the state of Texas in the United States.

There are Jewish communities spread throughout the country, including some Jews who have made their way into the country from the neighboring countries of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Source


Kazakh Jews have a long history. There are approximately several thousand Jews in Kazakhstan right now. Most Kazakh Jews are Ashkenazi and speak Russian.
Jewish history in Kazakhstan 
General Secretary Joseph Stalin forcibly moved thousands of Jews from other parts of the Soviet Union to the Kazakh SSR. During the Holocaust 8,000 Jews fled to Kazakhstan.

A Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Almaty is named after Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, father of the Rebbe, who is buried at the city’s cemetery, close to the synagogue. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson was exiled to Kazakhstan from Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk, where he was a chief rabbi. Lubavitcher Jews from all over the world come to pray at his grave.

Yeshaya E. Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan, told Kazinform on January 16, 2004 that a new synagogue would be built in Astana. He thanked President Nazarbayev for "paying so much attention to distinguishing between those who truly believe and those who want to hijack their religion." President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, presented Nazarbayev with a menorah on 7 September 2004.

Kazakhstan's Jewish population rapidly increased between 1926 and 1959, being almost eight times larger in 1959 than in 1926. Kazakhstan's Jewish population slowly declined between 1959 and 1989, followed by a much larger decline after the fall of Communism between 1989 and 2002 due to massive Jewish emigration, mostly to Israel.

About 2,000 Jewish Kazakhs are Bukharian and Juhuro Mountain Jews. There are synagogues and large Jewish communities in Almaty where there are 1,000 Jews and in Astana and Pavlodar. There are smaller communities in Karaganda, Chimkent, Semey, Kokchetav, Dzhambul, Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, and Petropavlovsk.

There are twenty Jewish Kazakh organizations, including the Mitzvah Association, Chabad-Lubavitch, the Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish Agency for Israel, and the All-Kazakhstan Jewish Congress (AKJC). The Jewish communities formed the AKJC in December 1999 in a ceremony attended by Kazakh government officials and United States Ambassador to Kazakhstan Richard Jones.

There are fourteen Jewish day schools attended by more than 700 students. There is a Jewish kindergarten in Almaty. Between 2005 and 2006 attendance in religious services and education in Almaty among Jews greatly increased.

The Kazakh government registered eight foreign rabbis and "Jewish missionaries" (see Jewish outreach.) It has also donated buildings and land for the building of new synagogues.

According to the National Coalition Supporting Soviet Jewry, "Anti-Semitism is not prevalent in Kazakhstan and rare incidents are reported in the press," contrary to incorrect perceptions in popular culture caused by the country's portrayal in the 2006 film Borat as a "hot-bed of anti-Semitism."

Lakhloukh Jews

There are estimated to be approximately four dozen Persian Jewish families living in Kazakhstan, which call themselves Lakhloukh and speak Aramaic. They still hold identity papers from Iran, the country their ancestors left almost 80 years ago.