The main influx of Bukharian Jews to the United States took place during the early 1990s. As we were settling, the Jews of America prior to our coming were introduced to a whole new sect of Jews who were unheard of to them, aside from “Shchunat Habukharim” (The Bukharian Quarter in Jerusalem). In fact, truth be told, until recently, most Bukharian Jews were unaware of their own roots. The main reason for this phenomenon was that back in the old country, the more questions one would ask about his Jewish heritage, the more the chances were that he would end up in serious trouble. To add insult to injury, the evaluation set about our illustrious past was left to secularly-educated Russian Jews from our community. To explain through an analogy how depreciated the assessment can turn out, just imagine a prominent cardiologist who left his legacy to be interpreted by a hospital janitor. Would you even think that the cardiologist would be viewed generations later at least on the level of a paramedic? I highly doubt it.
Very often the question is asked in the “Yeshivish circles,” “Are there any Bukharian Gidoilim?” [Great Sages]. So I did some research and Baruch Hashem “like a Refuah (healing) before a maka (wound)” it turns out that there was a massive exodus out of Bukhara into Eretz Yisrael about 100 years prior to our American influx. Those pioneers, who were G-d fearing observant Jews, wrote a lot about our illustrious Sages, One of whom was the Chief Rabbi of Shchunat Habukharim, Rav Avraham Talmudi Aminov. Rav Avraham was the grandson and student of Mullah Pinchas Hakatan, the illustrious Rosh Yeshiva of Bukhara (the son-in-law of Rav Yosef Mammon).
Rav Avraham was born in Bukhara in the year 1854. His father, R’Binyamin, was a merchant and the father of R’ Yitschak, R’ David, R’ Chaim, and R’ Aharon. Although all four of Rav Avraham’s brothers went into business with their father, R’ Binyamin and his rabanit, Tzipora, always encouraged little Avraham to pursue his endeavors and become a talmid chacham. He, therefore, sent him to learn in the Yeshiva of Chacham Pinchas Hakatan. As time went on, Rav Avraham excelled in his studies and had obtained the nickname “Talmudi” at a young age. In the year 1889, at the age of 35, he underwent the great danger of traveling to Eretz Yisrael. Upon arrival, his wisdom and piousness immediately earned him the position of Chief Rabbi of the renowned community of “Richovot,” also known as Shchunat Habukharim.
In Yerushalayim he merited to write his Likutai Dinim, A Ben-Ish-Chai-like approach to halachah. Rav Avraham traveled back to Bukhara six times in order to strengthen the community and distribute his books of halachah, which were translated into Bukharian by Rav Shimon Chacham. Rav Aminov first published his Likutai Dinim in 1900. In his first volume, he deals with Halachot pertaining to the Yoreh Deah and Even Haezer parts of Shulchan Aruch. Rav Avraham got a haskamah from Chacham Yaakov Shaul Elyashir, the Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel.
The second volume was printed one year later on Hilchot Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh. This was followed by volume three, on Pesach, Yom tov, and Chol Hamoed, and volume four on Tisha B’av Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanuka, and Purim. Rav Aminov was also very instrumental in the publishing of Niviim Rishonim and Niviim Acharonim in Bukharian, together with Rav Shimon Chacham and Rav Binyamin Bar Yochanan Hakohen.
After 1919, due to the Bolsheviks, all ties between Bukhara and Yerushalayim were cut, causing a halt to all financial aid from Bukhara. In affect, a hunger broke out in Yerushalayim. Despite the pact that funds weren’t coming in anymore, in the words of Rishon Lizion Harav Mordachai Eliyahu, zt”l, “Everyone in Yerushalyim knew to go to Shchunat Habukharim to receive proper hospitality and to fill their stomachs.” But the hunger seemed to get worse. Baruch Hashem, a Jewish man by the name of Sir Herbert Samuel was appointed as the minister in Israel (Palestine). Sir Herbert seemed to have spent much time by Rav Aminov and donated thousands of Israeli Lirot to be distributed to two hundred people (in Rav Avraham’s community) who were in need of food.
Rav Aminov always watched out for the spirituality and physical sustenance of the Bukharian people; he even sent a booklet of takanot(enactments) to Bukhara signed by all the Bukharian Rabanim of Yerushalayim. Rav Avraham was also known to pray netz all seven days of the week. After shacharit, all of the congregants in his minyan would go to his house and learn Chumash and Rashi with him.
Though he did not merit having any of his own children, he was truly a father to the Bukharian people. Rav Avraham Aminov Talmudi was niftaron the 9th of Shivat, 1939, at the age of 85. He was buried on Har Hazaitim (Chelkat Habukharim).
Rabbi Yisrael Kaikov is the second grade Rebbi in Yeshivat Shaarei Zion. He has taught Jewish History for seven years in Yishivas Tiferes Elimelech. Rabbi Kaikov was ordained by the Mirrer Yeshiva and learned there for ten years. Additionally, Rabbi Kaikov and his wife teach Chatan/Kallah classes. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach Rabbi Kaikov at firstname.lastname@example.org.