The Georgian Jews’ diaspora is ancient, specifically the history of Jews in Georgia counts 28 centuries. This means that Georgian-speaking Jewry is a community with the biggest number of surviving Jewish heritages in the whole world. The Jews were settled in different cities and villages around Georgia, such as: Oni, Gori, Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Mtskheta, etc. The 11th century Georgian historical sources say that the Jews first appeared and settled down in Kartli, after the destruction of the first temple by Nabukhodonosor (586 B.C) and their persecution from Jerusalem; as we know from history Jews were welcomed in the whole Georgia. Georgia is the only country in the world where Jews have not been persecuted on ethnic or religious grounds. Moreover, Georgian kings used Jews in diplomatic service and often sent them to negotiations. For example in the 12th century Jewish head trader Zanjan Zorababeli brought a husband for Georgia’s first female king Tamar.
Jews history in Georgia counts 28 centuries and it has a very special and interesting heritage.
This means that Georgian-speaking Jewry is a community with the biggest number of surviving Jewish heritages in the whole world. Here are the several reasons why this tour might interest the Jews around the world: First of all, history and the past years are very interesting. What was the struggle of the first group of Jews who came to Georgians’ land and what was the reason for their arrival?
What we know for sure from the 11th century Georgian historical sources is that the Jews first appeared and settled down in Kartli, after the destruction of the first temple by Nabukhodonosor (586 B.C) and after their persecution from Jerusalem. It was not an easy road to come and settle down in Kartli but as we know from history Jews were welcomed in the whole Georgia. Secondly the Jews were settled in different cities, villages and areas around Georgia. (For example: Oni, Gori, Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Mtskheta, etc.) Today we can see and travel to places and old synagogues which were built during the migration period. This is incredible, because even though Jews and Georgians lived together in one village or in one neighborhood, they were still isolated where Jews had a cult house-synagogue to pray. Georgian Jews have preserved Jewish traditions and features that are characteristic of any Jew. Thirdly Georgia is the only country in the world where Jews have not been persecuted on ethnic or religious grounds. Moreover, Georgian kings used Jews in diplomatic service and often sent them to negotiations. For example in the 12th century Jewish head trader Zanjan Zorababeli brought a husband for Georgia’s first female king Tamar, which was a big diplomatic initiation. The Jews were also prone to trade and no markets and events were held where they didn’t participate. Also, most of the men were working in agriculture and trade. The women’s duty was to take care of the children and pay attention to family; so the relationship between Georgians and Jews was always very special. They were always good friends, neighbors and like family with each other. Even today when Jews are traveling to old Georgian villages people are remembering and talking about the relationship they had with Jews, which is appreciated. Fourthly, the Georgian Jews were considered ethnically and culturally distinct from neighboring Mountain Jews. They were also traditionally highly separated from the Ashkenazi Jews in Georgia, who arrived following the Russian annexation of Georgia. This historical moment is also very interesting for researchers and can be developed by scientists.
Fifthly, and lastly, there are a lot of factors that influence the whole process. There are interesting facts:
- During the difficult period, the Jews, along with Georgians, were taking arms and defending the homeland, in this case Georgia, from enemies. The battle of Oltisi is a great example of it. Where Jews and Georgians were fighting next to each other as one and they gained a beautiful victory;
- Georgian Jews still use Georgian surnames, although most of them returned to their native roots in Israel. To sum up we can gather and see the whole Jewish Heritage history and culture in one tour around Georgia by passing through towns and Jewish heritage locations: Synagogues, Jewish monuments having the status of cultural heritage, Jewish museums, graves and Jewish archeology artifacts, where all the historical materials about jews are kept.
One country and one aspect of history about Jewish heritage can show you hundreds of feelings and places from the past. The tour is unique with a varied history and gives you an opportunity to see lots of beautiful and ancient places, and cultural heritage which reflects the entire history of the Jews in Georgia, that is full of:
· Interesting Jewish monuments, architectural and archeology artifacts;
· Museums where a lot of Jewish materials are kept;
· Active Synagogues and Jewish people who still pray there;
· Closed synagogues keeping the history of the past;
· Graveyards of Jewish people;
· A lot of storytelling about the Jews in Georgia;
· Food tastes that are kept from the ancient time, which were used by Jewish people.
The tour is unique on its own but the nature of Georgia makes the tour more unique, which is famous for its special, beautiful and distinctive nature, that gives you an opportunity to visit mountainous areas, sea resorts and modern cities in one tour.