MembersA Visit With the Mountain Jews From Persia

The Jews of the Red Village in Azerbaijan have persevered, surviving both the conquest of Persian rulers and the Soviet repression

By Rachel Avraham |
Azerbaijan is a warm home for its ancient Jewish communities
Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

During my recent trip to Azerbaijan, I spent a day in Guba with the Mountain Jews, a community originally established in ancient Persia. It is believed that they had reached Persia from ancient Israel as early as the 8th century BC and continued to migrate east, settling in mountainous areas of the Caucasus. Mountain Jews survived centuries of upheavals in the region by settling in extremely remote and mountainous areas. They were also known to be accomplished warriors and horseback riders.

Today the community resides in what is known as Azerbaijan’s Red Village, the last remaining Jewish shtetl outside of the State of Israel. Mountain Jews speak a unique dialect of Persian known as Juhuri which uses the Hebrew alphabet, but since Azerbaijan’s independence, they now use the Latin alphabet.

To live in Red Village is considered a great honor. Aside from being the last remaining Jewish shtetl, the village...

Israel Today Membership

Become a Member

  • Read all member content

    Get exclusive in-depth reports from Israel.

  • Get exclusive in-depth reports from Israel

    Connect with Israel, right from your home.

  • Lift up the voice of truth and hope

    Support Jerusalem-based Zionist journalism.

Already a member? .