Today we visited Quba, a peaceful country town famous for its apple orchards and carpet making, located in the foothills of Great Caucasus.
Quba has been inhabited by Jews since the 13th century. In 1742, the Khan of Quba gave the Jews, who were being persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists, permission to settle opposite his town. The settlement was organized without fear of discrimination, retribution, or clashes with neighboring towns and states.
The flourishing community of 18,000 people became known as Yevreskaya Sloboda or Jewish settlement, but was renamed as Krasnaya Sloboda when the Bolsheviks came to power. The town experienced many hardships during the Soviet time. The communists closed eleven synagogues and exiled rabbis to Siberia. However, Jews were shielded here from the horrors of Nazi-occupied Europe when World War II was breaking out. Today, seven synagogues have been preserved. They are all built of bricks, and the larger ones are decorated with onion domes (second picture).
The main peculiarity of Krasnaya Sloboda, which numbers around 3.000 thousand people, is that it is populated almost entirely by Mountain Jews.
We had the honor to visit local synagogues, mikvaot, the still existing Yeshiva, the cemetery and Chai Chana.
Probably the most precious experience of the day was talking to the local population in Quba, listening to their stories, getting an impression how life in Quba is nowadays and how it used to be and finally finding mutual relatives. Many of our participants were able to find places where their grandparents used to live and visited realtives they never have met before. A truly powerful day.