Monday, July 16, 2007

Tough Jews: The Daghestani Jews Part 3

'And we, the Tats' 'We, Samson warriors,'
'Bar Kochba's heirs...'
'we went into battles'
'and bitterly, heroically'
'struggled for our freedom'
Song of the Mountain Jews

The Jews of Daghestan lived isolated and in one of the most remote, impenetrable areas in the world for many centuries. They have been historically known for their fierce and war-like nature. In dress and custom they were hardly distinguishable from other Caucasian fighting people in the region. Though they are considered Ahal Dhimmi, subjigated people, by their surrounding Muslim population, the Mountain Jews owned land were known to be fierce, not hesitating to defend, by sword or the rifle, their family, religion, or personal dignity.

''The Jews of Daghestan greatly resemble the other warlike inhabitants of this mountainous region; and they have acquired the virtues as well as the faults of the latter. There is a tradition among the Jews of Daghestan that they are the descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes; but the history of their wanderings is now forgotten, the written documents which they once possessed having in the course of time been either lost or destroyed. They differ from their Christian and Mohammedan neighbors in speech, using the Tat language, which is a combination of Persian and Hebrew. Their writing is a mixture of square characters and Rashi. They wear the Circassian dress, and always go heavily armed, even sleeping without having removed their weapons."
It is possible that the Mountain Jews are descendants of Persian-Jewish soldiers who were stationed in the Caucasus by the Sasanian kings in the fifth or sixth century to protect the area from the onslaughts of the Huns and other nomadic invaders from the east. Under the impact of the invading Turkish hordes, later generations of Jewish inhabitants of the Caucasian lowlands were forced to migrate even further north to Daghestan.

No comments: