Religion & Jewish Life | World

Uzbekistan Jews fight to save 124-year-old synagogue from demolition

(JTA) — A construction firm in Uzbekistan is attempting to have a 124-year-old synagogue demolished to make way for a luxury apartment complex, according to a Russian-Jewish publication.

Absolute Business Trade, a company based in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, earlier this year sued the Jewish Ashkenazi Community of Tashkent, claiming they are illegally occupying an “apartment” in a complex purchased by Golden House, the Russian-Jewish weekly L’Chaim reported on Wednesday.

According to L’Chaim, the apartment in question is home to the First Ashkenazi Synagogue of Tashkent, which is reportedly holding up a plan to build a luxury apartment block on the site.

Orient Group, the parent company of both ABI and Golden House, has offered to build the community another synagogue, but the community has turned that offer down. The next court hearing is scheduled for August 5.

Former Tashkent Mayor Rakhmonbek Usmanov promised that the synagogue would not be evicted. But he has since left that position to head the Uzbek Agency for Road Transport. A successor has not yet been appointed.

At least three fires have occurred outside the synagogue since 2018 in what local Jews say is an attempt at intimidation, the report said.

Golden House and the Orient Group have not responded to request for comment from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Uzbekistan last year improved its ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, though it still ranks 153 out of 198 countries.