KRASNAYA SLOBODA, QUBA, AZERBAIJAN

Krasnaya Sloboda is a Jewish settlement across the river from Quba.  It is a community of Mountain Jews called the Tats. Frankly, they look like any other Azeri people and if they didn’t wear yarmulkes I would never know that they are Jewish.

We loved our visit there albeit the entire time I felt like I am in a Jim Jarmush movie.  The village is made of large beautiful expensive brick houses and mansions but looks completely abandoned and except for few speeding cars we barely saw 5 people on a street the entire time.  However, I had a constant feeling that we are being watched and followed.  Everybody we met said Shabbat Shalom and tensely waited for a response. After responding the same we were immediately interviewed who we are and where we are from.  After mentioning Israel they relaxed and became extremely nice. It took a while to find the synagogue because even though people here are trying to be helpful their ability to explain directions is lacking. Usually they are throwing their arms around pointing to some vague direction in the horizon which turns out to be several turns here and there and nothing to do with their description. Probably, because they never use maps…

After visiting the synagogue we stooped at local chayhana (tea house) which turned out to be a social club for few remaining elders in the village. As we walked in, the conversations stopped and an interview began.  Once they realized that we are Jewish it became all warm and friendly.  Then more and more elders poured in to check us out.  As I said before, we definitely were watched because a rumor of our visit spread around the village and they all came in to see us. The once who already got the 411 on us were now explaining it to the new ones in their language, which as we just learned is very similar to Farsi; the Tats came here thru Iran several hundred years ago.  Once they learned that we live in New York the excitement grew even further and we were told that most of them had relatives in Brooklyn…

After several cups of tea we said our goodbyes and left. The whole experience was just lovely and in a good mood we crossed the Arched Bridge back to Quba.

 

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