May 1 | 4-7:30 p.m. | in person
Beth El Congregation | 1118 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix
free admission | open to all
(602) 944-3359

A fascinating aspect of Phoenix-area Jewry is its substantial population of Bukharan Jews, the largest in North America after that of New York City’s Queens. Hailing from Central Asia (today’s Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan), where they resided for over 1500 years, the Bukharan Jews form a distinctive, tight-knit community with rich linguistic, musical, and culinary traditions.

Despite their presence here in the Valley, there has thus far been little opportunity to learn about their history and culture, including the story of when and why so many of them have come here. This event aims to address this situation, promoting awareness and analysis of the Bukharan Jewish experience among both the Jewish community and general public.

Through academic lectures, the performance of traditional music and dance, and the opportunity to sample Bukharan food, this program will cast welcome light on a neglected aspect of the local Jewish scene. Come meet and learn about the Bukharan Jews!

program subject to change

Program organized by Beth El Congregation, the Harold and Jean Grossman Chair for Jewish Studies at Arizona State University, and ASU Jewish Studies. Sponsored by the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, the Gerald Rosenbluth Family Fund (a field of interest fund at the Arizona Community Foundation), the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix.

event program

additional information

speakers + performers

Alanna E. Cooper

Cultural anthropologist Alanna E. Cooper serves as the Abba Hillel Silver Chair in Jewish Studies at Case Western Reserve University, and studies the impact of dispersion and social upheaval on religious expression. Her book Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism and many related articles are based on research conducted in Central Asia, and among immigrants from there in New York and Tel Aviv. Cooper is currently working on Disposing of the Sacred: American Jewish Congregations, to be published by Penn State University Press.

Evan Rapport

Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at The New School, Evan Rapport is the author of Greeted with Smiles: Bukharian Jewish Music and Musicians in New York, about the musical life of Jewish immigrants from Central Asia, and Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk. Rapport has also published on settings of Persian poetry, arrangements of George Gershwin’s concert works, and the idea of “ethnic music” in New York. He currently directs the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts civic engagement program.

Ensemble Shashmaqam 

Shashmaqam is the United States’ premier ensemble dedicated to Central Asia’s Bukharian Jewish music and dance traditions, performing a panorama of classical and folk music from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. 


Find their music on:

location + map

Beth El Congregation
1118 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85021