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Yakov-Hai Pinkhasov

(1890 - 1968)

Yakov-Hai Pinkhasov was born in 1890 in Bukhara to a wealthy, respected and influential family of Zion Mullo Niyoza and Rivko Pinkhasov. By the line of his father Yakov-Hai Pinkhasov was the great-grandson of well-known rabbi Yosef Mamon Maaravi, who had arrived to Bukhara from Jerusalem in 1793.

Being very clever, noble, brought up person, Pinkhasov had authority among the Jewish population of Bukhara. In 1917, at the age of 27, Pinkhasov was elected the head of Jews of Bukharian Emirate by Emir Seid Alimkhan and given a title of Kalontar. Professor D. Ochildiev writes about duties of a Kalontar:

At the head of a community was a kalontar, chosen by the community [actually its most prosperous members]. Results of elections were subject to the obligatory statement of the Kushbegi, the second [highest ranking] person in the state, and then by Emir. The Kalontar had administrative and judicial authority. The circle of his competence included: the commercial, family, fine, criminal and other disputes frequently arising among Jews and so forth... Onlly the kalontar could represent Jewish citizens of Emir before authorities of Emirate and to bear the personal responsibility for duly payment of the head tax by them called "djizia" and other additional duties.

During the period of his short service (up to 1920), Pinkhasov won the respect and love of the Emir and persuaded him to cancel the "9 humiliating laws for Jews of the Emirate."

In 1920, there was a revolution in Bukhara, the Emir fled to Afghanistan with his riches. That same year Pinkhasov was arrested because of his closeness to Emir of Bukhara. When the news of his arrest reached Jerusalem, Yakov’s brother Moshka immediately went to Bukhara, where he bribed the prison’s chief (he was later sent to Gulag) and took Yakov with him to Jerusalem. The difficult journey to Jerusalem from Bukhara was over land to the Black sea and then by ship through Istanbul.

Pinkhasov did not live long in Israel. After some time he with his wife and sons went to Calcutta, India, where they opened a big cafeteria. After 10 years, he had sold the cafeteria and had left with family for London where he lived for the next several years. Pinkhasov finally returned to Israel to retire and died in Tel Aviv at the age of 78 in 1968.

To this day old residents of Bukhara among Bukharian Jews remember Pinkhasov, the last leader of Jews of Bukharian Emirate. He was best known for his kind acts and his portrait hangs in a historical museum in the Ark fortress and in the Bukharian Jewish synagogue in Bukhara.

Sources: Bukharian Jews