MONGOLIA, region of E. central Asia, which gained fame originally due to the *Mongols under Genghis Khan, who established an enormous empire in the early 13th century that eventually encompassed most of Asia. By the 17th century, Mongolia was firmly under Chinese control. Outer Mongolia became the Mongolian People's Republic in 1924 and Inner Mongolia remained under Chinese rule. At the end of the 19th century Jewish families from Siberia traded with Mongolia and a few settled there as a result of their businesses. Between 1918 and 1920 Russian Jews, fleeing from the civil war atrocities, crossed Lake Baikal to settle in Outer Mongolia. Most of them were wiped out in 1921 by the White Russian units under Baron Ungern-Sternberg which were retreating before the advancing Soviet forces. In 1925–26, a Russian-Jewish journalist discovered 50 newly settled Jewish families in a deserted area of Outer Mongolia, some 200 miles from the Manchurian border. Ulaan Bataar (or Ulan Bator, formerly Urga), the capital of the Mongolian People's Republic, had a community of 600 Russian Jews in 1926, including watch-makers, jewelers, barbers, furriers, and construction workers. The increasing Soviet influence in the area induced most of them to leave Outer Mongolia for *Manchuria and elsewhere. Those who remained were employees of state enterprises. Jews visited Outer Mongolia from the Manchurian town of Hailar during the 1920s only seasonally in order to buy furs and other domestic products, but they did not take up permanent residence. Over the years of Communist rule, Jewish civilian and military specialists from the Soviet Union spent time in Mongolia. The contact of Jews with Mongols led to some mixed marriages, a phenomenon strengthened by the many Mongols who traveled to the Soviet Union for study and other activities. With the end of Communism in both the Soviet Union and Mongolia around 1991, several of the children resulting from these marriages immigrated to Israel.
M. Wischnitzer, Juden in der Welt (1935), 305–7; A. Druyanow in: Reshumot, 3 (1923), 549–51. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C.R. Bawden, The Modern History of Mongolia (1989).
[Rudolf Loewenthal /
Reuven Amitai (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.