DUSHANBE, Tajikistan “” Even during Sabbath services on a Saturday in early March, as Rabbi Mikhail Abdurakhimov read Hebrew prayers and the faithful followed along using Russian transliterations, the rumble of construction was distracting.
This is a synagogue in its last moments of existence. While the congregants prayed, a bright orange bulldozer growled outside, continuing its work at the synagogue’s edge.
“They could do this anytime,” whispered David Kiselkov, 56. “But of course they choose to do it now.”
The synagogue is the last in Tajikistan, and will soon fall victim to redevelopment and the declining Jewish population in this remote post-Soviet state….
And, evidently, to the shifting of Tajikistan back to a more overtly Islamic identity:
Dushanbe, a quiet, verdant capital with a single central boulevard, is slowly changing, struggling to emerge from isolation, state Socialism and civil war.
Lenin’s statue was recently replaced by a towering golden monument to Ismail Samani, a 9th-century Persian shah reborn as a Tajik hero. A sparkling green bank stands next to an imposing Stalinist government building, freshly painted peach.