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The Multifaceted History and Culture of Bukharian Jews

Hosted By: My Jewish Learning

The eclectic story of Central Asia’s ancient Jewish community—Bukharian Jews—is situated at the lesser-known intersection of Sephardic, Mizrahi and Russian-Speaking Jewish identities. Join My Jewish Learning educator and community builder Ruben Shimonov to discover the ways in which Bukharian Jews have developed their multilayered culture against the backdrop of the societies surrounding them—including Persian, Arab, Turkic and Russian empires. Taking us on an international journey from Central Asia to the United States and Europe, Shimonov will shed light on how the Bukharian Jewish experience fits into the broader historical saga of the Jewish People.


Ruben Shimonov

Ruben Shimonov is an educator, community builder, and social entrepreneur passionate about Jewish diversity. He previously served as Director of Community Engagement & Education at Queens College Hillel, where he had the unique role of creating meaningful Jewish experiences for Sephardic and Mizrahi students. Currently, Ruben is the National Director of Sephardi House & Young Leadership at the American Sephardi Federation. Among his various roles at ASF, he serves as an educator and the director of a national student fellowship that seeks to infuse the warmth, wisdom, and diversity of the Greater Sephardic world into campus life. He is also the Founding Executive Director of the Sephardic Mizrahi Q Network—a grassroots organization building a supportive and much-needed community for LGBTQ+ Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews—as well as Director of Educational Experiences & Programming for the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee. As a visual artist, Ruben uses his multilingual Arabic-Hebrew-Persian calligraphy to build Muslim-Jewish interfaith bridges. In 2018, Ruben was listed among The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” emerging leaders and changemakers. Ruben has lectured extensively on the histories and cultures of Sephardic and Mizrahi communities. Among his speaking engagements, Ruben has taught at New York University, University of Southern California, multiple Limmud conferences (United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New York, Seattle), Jews of Color Torah Academy, and Hillel International.
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