ABKHAZIYA (formerly Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic), within Georgia, Transcaucasia, on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Abkhaziya became a Russian protectorate in 1810. During the czarist regime, since it lay beyond the *Pale of Settlement, Abkhaziya was barred to Jews from European Russia. In 1846 Jewish artisans were given permission to live temporarily in Sukhum (now Sukhumi), the main city, and by 1897 there were 156 Jews. After the 1917 revolution the number of
Jews in Abkhaziya increased considerably. The 1959 census recorded 3,332 Jews (0.8% of the total population), 3,124 living in urban settlements and 208 in rural. The majority were concentrated in Sukhumi and most of them were Georgian Jews (see *Georgia). A new synagogue with accommodation for 500 congregants was built in 1960, and a congregation was reported active in 1963. After the dismantling of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Abkhaziya proclaimed independence and cessation from Georgia, leading to a war in 1993 that ended with the defeat of the Georgian army and Russian troops intervening and separating the belligerents. The war caused the Jews of Abkhaziya to leave, mostly for Israel. Abkhaziya is not recognized by other governments as an independent country. See also *Caucasus.
[Yehuda Slutsky / Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.