Jewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»

© Photo : Julia Makoveychuk Makhachkala synagogueJewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»© Photo : Julia Makoveckaya Mikheev

The ancient Russian city of Derbent — «closed gates» in Persian — a place unique, even for multinational Dagestan. Only here at a Shiite mosque you can hear the greeting in Hebrew in the synagogue on the holidays are coming, the Muslims, and lezginka their children teaches highland Jew. How all this is possible in the harsh Caucasus and how the followers of different religions to understand each other — in a report by RIA Novosti.

«Now let’s go to the mosque,» says his father Nikolay Kotelnikov at the gate Church of the intercession in the city’s only Orthodox Church. In December, is crystal clear blue sky, plus ten blooming roses and smell the sea. In Derbent father Nicholas has served for 40 years. «I was the oldest priest of Dagestan, he explains. — Come where all clutching his head: «What, still alive? There, on the Orthodox persecution of…» And we’re to each other, visit each other, you know? Now will see how it goes».

© Photo : Alexander Egoraptor Nikolay KotelnikovJewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»© Photo : Alexander Egoraptor Nikolay Kotelnikov

Five minutes through the narrow streets of the old town we drive to the Juma mosque, the oldest in the CIS. By the way, the oldest in Russia, the Christian Church is also located in Derbent, in the same fortress Naryn-Kala.

Donated to the temple
«A believer does not separate itself from the other Nations, because it understands that God is one. And we live in the same country. I think that in the Caucasus are aware of this,» says the Archbishop of Makhachkala and Grozny Varlaam.

In Dagestan love to tell a story. When here came the troops of General Yermolov, the soldiers had no place to pray. And the Council of elders gave them one of city mosques. Converted to the Orthodox Church based on sketches by Russian artists, it still stands in one of the seven ancient mahalov (districts. — Approx. ed.) of Derbent. Locals call it «Niels-mosque» or «mosque-Cathedral». Thirty years in it services were celebrated until it was built the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which has been preserved, alas, only in photos.

«Among the truly faithful of violence can not be. I constantly communicate with the Chechens, Ingush, Daghestani peoples. They have a wonderful feature — during the conversation they always add: «that’s my grandfather, he taught…», «my father, he always told us…» the Wisdom and experience that elders pass on to young people, define our lives here,» stressed the Bishop.

© Photo : Julia Malvacearum mosque, the oldest Muslim temple in Russia Jewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»© Photo : Julia Malvacearum mosque, the oldest Muslim temple in Russia
Juma mosque

Juma mosque, built in the VIII century, the Muslims considered the fifth in importance after the famous mosques in Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and Cairo. Now she is Shia, but despite centuries of differences, pray come and Sunnis. For 13 centuries, the mosque never knew overhaul, and during a strong earthquake, 1368, in main hall only bent columns (which did not prevent a few years later to a certain Tajuddin to hang in her courtyard written in Arabic script plaque on their participation in its restoration). Come here from all over the world. Once the gatekeeper Farhat, who knows, in 10 languages, appealed to the believers from Palestine in Hebrew. Cost.

«And in sorrow and in joy, we’re all in this together, all Derbent. All are here. The Qur’an says that all believers are brothers, so everyone can find here a shelter and a shelter», — Farhat, graduated from the history Department of the Ivanovo University, shows me the courtyard of the mosque. Growing here the trees listed in the heritage list of UNESCO.

© Photo : Julia Macrovasculature Nikolay Kotelnikov on the streets of DerbentJewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»© Photo : Julia Macrovasculature Nikolay Kotelnikov on the streets of Derbent

Father Nicholas greeting and hugging every second along the way. Interest in the health of sons-in-law (the priest, three of them), asking about the grandchildren and when to wait to visit next time. «Well, what did I tell you?» — he narrows his eyes slyly.

Of course, then we go to the Jews.

What is the difference between a Jew and a climber

Jews began to settle in Dagestan in the fourth century to escape persecution in Persia. In Soviet times there on the orders from above were recorded in tats — Iranian ethnicity, Jews and Judaism, having nothing in common. The Jews themselves refer to this, and with sadness and with humor.

Iosif Mataev, people’s artist of Russia and Dagestan, more than three decades has worked as the chief choreographer of one of the main local «export brands» — state dance ensemble «lezginka», tells how he served in the Soviet army: «One is asked: who are you? Ukrainian? Well. Kazakh? Great. And you? Mountain Jew? I mean mountaineer?»

In his first visit to Jerusalem Mataev created a furor by telling about his work in Dagestan. «How?— ask me in amazement. — You learn 300 Dagestani children? And Muslims get their trust?» How is it that they say about Jerusalem I know more than you about Makhachkala,» — said Joseph with a Cup of tea with traditional local cake in the synagogue.

© Photo : Julia Makoveychuk Makhachkala synagogueJewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»© Photo : Julia Makoveychuk Makhachkala synagogue

Before the revolution, in the Dagestani capital, there were seven synagogues and lived more than 40 thousand Jews. Now, a little more than a thousand. According to members of the Jewish community, they often hear from Muslim neighbors that, together with the Jewish people of Dagestan leaves and Bereket. In the languages of almost all the peoples of the Caucasus, this word denotes God’s blessing.

«Come to us for Pesach!»

In Buynaksk is one of the oldest in the Caucasus synagogues, founded in 1862, even before the settlement was granted town status. In Temir-Khan-Shura, as it was then called Buynaksk, settled including «European» Jews who served in the Russian army. During the great Patriotic war the synagogue served as a military hospital. After the war was returned to the congregation only a small hall. In the room that was once the great hall of the synagogue, now the Bank is located.

Now its only a visitor — an elderly security guard. This year after appeals from the Jews, the Republic’s authorities have started repairs. When it is completed, the synagogue will be opened a Museum, which will reach anyone, regardless of religious views.

«And then come to the market all say: «Oh, a Jew? What happiness! Can I finger you?» — laughs Bella from the local Jewish community.

© Photo : Julia Makoveychuk Makhachkala synagogueJewish lezginka in Dagestan, or «Come to us for Pesach!»© Photo : Julia Makoveychuk Makhachkala synagogue

The correspondent of the First channel Ilyas Shurpaev, who died tragically almost ten years ago, in one of his Dagestan reports showed three cemeteries on the slope of mount Tarki-Tau: Jewish, Orthodox and Muslim. «This is a latter-day Jerusalem — what we share on one slope of the mountain?» he asked then a question.

«All who were born here and went in the difficult years, regardless of nationality, have brought to other lands our of the Dagestan mentality, the spirit of good neighborliness, openness and mutual assistance. We have a unique edge. Be sure to come to us for Pesach!» — saying goodbye to me, honored teacher of Dagestan Boris hanukaev.

Lost faith
«Something we, Russians, are, unfortunately, already lost. And we desperately need to restore respect for elders, parents, family. There is something special about people in the Caucasus. He knows how to draw. Here are trying to treat the man so as not to hurt his self-esteem,» says Archbishop Varlaam.

At the security control at the airport of Makhachkala asking me whether all liked it. «Will definitely punish, if anything,» the laughing police. I find myself thinking that this is the first armed men I had seen in Dagestan.