First museum of Mountain Jews in Red Settlement of Azerbaijan’s Guba district

Baku, April 9, AZERTAC

Azerbaijan, as a country where multiculturalism policy is based on principles of mutual respect and traditional coexistence between different ethnic cultures, is also home to Jews who settled in the country for thousands of years and built several communities and towns.

There are three main group of Jews in Azerbaijan, the biggest of which is the ancient community of Mountain Jews.

Located opposite Guba city on the northern banks of the Gudiyalchay river, Red Settlement (also known as Girmizi Gasaba or Krasnaya Sloboda) is the largest Mountain Jewish settlement in Azerbaijan and a truly unique place to visit.

Characterised by its red-tiled roofs, this village is thought to have once been the only entirely Jewish settlement outside of Israel and the United States and the world’s last surviving shtetl.

Its residents are Mountain Jews whose ancestors have been living in the Guba region for centuries.

Founded in the mid-18th century, the village thrived under the protection of the ruling Guba khan, becoming a diverse yet closed community of Mountain Jews. And in the centuries since it has survived plenty of upheavals, maintaining its own culture and traditions, as well as the unique Juhuri language.

The Museum of Mountain Jews, which was opened here in 2019 aims to shine a light on this one-of-a-kind community, their traditions and culture, keeping them safe for generations to come.

In February 2021, the Euronews TV channel’s Cult program, in partnership with Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture, has broadcast a special video report headlined “Discover the centuries-old culture of Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan”.

In his interview to Euronews Director of the Museum Igor Shaulov said that the Museum of the History of Mountain Jews is the only one in the world. “It includes documents, domestic items and artifacts. This museum is devoted to the history and culture, past and present, of the Mountain Jews. It reflects a high degree of interaction and mutual respect between Jewish and Azerbaijani people,” he added.

The mission of the Museum of Mountain Jews is multifaceted and, first of all, is to acquaint everyone, who is interested in a unique mini-civilization that combines the achievements of Jewish culture and cultures of the peoples of the Caucasus.

The museum aims to transmit universal human values, and thereby, we hope, will serve not only as a source of knowledge about the material and spiritual culture of Mountain Jews, but will also provide a space for interethnic and inter-religious dialogue.

The doors of the museum are open for everyone who is willing to share Jewish values, regardless of nationality or religion.

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