Krymchaks

Krymchaks [кримчаки; krymchaky]. Turkic-speaking Jews in the Crimea who are believed to be descendants of the Khazars. They professed Orthodox, Talmudic Judaism and had their own form of ritual and their own dialect, written mostly in the Hebrew script. Their major centers were Qarasubazar and Simferopol. In 1926 they numbered 6,400. Many were killed by the Nazis during the Second World War, and others emigrated or assimilated, or fled to other parts of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1974, estimates placed their number at 2,500 in the USSR, most of them in the Crimea. In 1989 the Krymchakhlar cultural and educational association was established in the Crimea in order to preserve the language and customs of this disappearing national minority. Since the 1990s some Krymchaks have emigrated to Israel. According to the 2001 census, there were 406 Krymchaks living in Ukraine.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]




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