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ARAG (ARAK):

Village in the district of Kyurin, Daghestan, Transcaucasia, Russia. When the traveler Judah Chorny visited the place in 1868, he found eighty Jewish families there, who lived in a separate part of the village. Their chief occupation was the cultivation of tobacco on land rented from their Mohammedan neighbors. They had a synagogue, and used the Sephardic rite. Fifty school-children were instructed in religion and Hebrew by two teachers. Their language was a mixed dialect of Tataric and Persian. Under the rule of the Tatar Khans they were burdened with heavy taxes, their position being almost that of slaves. With the annexation of the province by Russia their condition improved somewhat. In 1900 the Jewish population of Arag was 710.

Polygamy is still practised among the inhabitants. Up to 1868 the names of the rabbis (who had succeeded one another) were: Moses, Mattithiah, Bezalel, Hanukah, Johai, Moses of Gursi, and Ezekiel, who was still holding office. Among their names the following are Caucasian: Valbikah, Vanavsha, Gulbahar, Desdeyul, Zarungul, Momari, Mamali, Tzaatchair, Kuztaman, Luzergal, Shachatav, Tazagil, Tavriz.

Bibliography:
  • Judah Chorny, Sefer ha-Massaot, pp. 256-262;
  • Budushchnost, 1900, No. 52.
H. R.
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