Uzbekistan's Jews decry 'tragedy' as Tashkent's Ashkenazi synagogue set to be demolished

Uzbek courts valued the community's compound at approximately £500


The Jewish community in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent are to be taken to court on August 5 as a property developer seeks to demolish the city’s Ashkenazi synagogue.

In a Facebook post last week, the Jewish Community of Uzbekistan wrote that this year’s Tisha b’Av would be “for the Jewish community of Tashkent not only a day of mourning, but a real tragedy.”

“Despite the promise that no one would ever raise a hand against the synagogue, city authorities have decided to demolish it in order to build a high-rise building,” the community said, adding: “They want to destroy our synagogue!”.

The community posted a photo of a court document from July 10, scheduling a final hearing for August 5 and valuing the community’s compound – and its likely compensation – at approximately £500.

Germany-based dissident group ‘Free Uzbekistan’, said that it had contacted the Israeli Embassy in the authoritarian Central Asian state to request an intervention against the “crime”.

Legal action against the community is being taken by property developer ‘Absolute Business Trade’, which had previously secured the land on which the Beth Menachem synagogue sits, for the construction of high-rise buildings.  

Tashkent’s Beth Menachem was founded in 1973 to serve Uzbekistan’s Ashkenazi Jews, who are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Uzbek capital.

The hearing, which is to be held on August 5, is unlikely to find in favour of Tashkent’s Jews.  

Since the death of authoritarian Uzbek President Islam Karimov in 2016, his successor Shavkat Mirziyoyev has overseen a small loosening of the strictest elements of the regime in a bid to improve Uzbekistan’s international image.

Nonetheless, advocacy group Freedom House wrote in 2019 report that Uzbekistan remained a “consolidated authoritarian regime”, and that due process in civil cases was “extremely weak”.

It added that rampant corruption made property rights “tenuous in practice”.

It is estimated that Uzbekistan’s Jewish community, which has been shrinking since the 1970s due to emigration, now numbers less than 10,000 – largely concentrated in Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarqand.



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