Jewish history runs very deep in the Caucasus—an ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse region at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Jewish communities have existed continuously in Georgia, Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus (including Dagestan and Chechnya) for centuries, if not millenia. Join us in exploring the histories and cultures of this region’s oldest Jewish communities. Our first session will focus on Kavkazi Jews (also known as Mountain Jews, Gorsky Jews, or Juhuro), and the second session will highlight the story of Georgian Jews.
About the speaker:
Born in Uzbekistan and currently based in Seattle, Ruben Shimonov is an educator, community builder, and social entrepreneur with a passion for Jewish diversity. He previously served as Director of Community Engagement and Education at Queens College Hillel. Currently, Ruben is the Founding Executive Director of the Sephardic Mizrahi Q Network, an organization that is building a supportive and much-needed community for LGBTQ+ Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. He also serves as Vice President of Education & Community Engagement on the young leadership board of the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), Director of Educational Experiences & Programming for the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, and Director of ASF’s Sephardi House Fellowship—a year-long learning and enrichment program for college student leaders. He is an alumnus of the COJECO Blueprint and Nahum Goldmann Fellowships for his work in Jewish social innovation, and has been listed among The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" young Jewish community leaders and changemakers. Ruben has lectured extensively throughout the world on the histories and cultures of various Sephardic and Mizrahi communities. He is also a visual artist specializing in multilingual calligraphy that interweaves Arabic, Hebrew and Persian. He uses his artistry to deepen Muslim-Jewish interfaith learning and community building.