Felix Shapiro and Mountain Jews
On December 8, Jerusalem's Russian library held another event of the International Association Israel-Azerbaijan "AzIz", prepared by the Jerusalem branch of the association and the center for preservation of Mountain-Jewish heritage Sholumi. Opening the evening, head of the branch Alexander Agranovsky said: "Today we will talk about Mountain Jews, their history, about Azerbaijani archive of the great pedagogue Felix Shapiro, about secrets hidden in this archive and how this priceless gift of saw the light after 60 years, thanks to the first exhibition in the National Museum of Israel."
Author of the book "Felix Shapiro and Mountain Jews" doctor of historical sciences Lia Mikdashieva spoke about numerous expeditions to Azerbaijan and Dagestan, about fieldwork conducted in those regions, about the help of Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan in preparation and holding of this exhibition at the National Museum of Israel in Jerusalem. Mikdashieva told how she met Felix Shapiro's daughter, who was born in Baku during the time when her father lived and worked in Baku, as well as about the archive of the author of the first Hebrew-Russian dictionary in the USSR. He also worked as superintendent of Jewish schools in Baku in 1913-1923. This small archive included rare newspapers - "Mountains Echo", "Morning Dawn". It mainly consisted of rare photos, depicting the history and culture of Jews in Azerbaijan.
Book "Felix Shapiro and Mountain Jews" was published based on this material in 2013, under supervision of the Caucasus Institute for Strategic Studies (Baku, Azerbaijan).
Host of the evening read out several messages, including from director of the Caucasus History Center, associate professor of UNESCO, senior researcher of the Institute of Law and Human Rights of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, historian Rizvan Guseinov, from the Community Center of American Caucasian Jews, represented by Yakov Abramov, from poet Rashbil Shamaev, chief editor of "New Frontier" newspaper Nobert Yevdaev and head of children's programs Alena Badalova.
The appearance of Felix Shapiro's granddaughter Inna Yahot and her husband Alex was a surprise for Lia Mikdashieva and all those present. Inna talked about her famous grandfather and mother, Lia Prestin-Shapiro.
Journalist and writer Alexander Razgon spoke about time when Shapiro and his family lived in Moscow. Rabbi Adam Davydov talked about how he exchanged Dahl Dictionary for Shapiro's Hebrew-Russian Dictionary. Writer and journalist Alex Reznik quoted excerpts from his books, dedicated to Lia Mikdashieva and exhibition, organized by her in the Museum of Israel, dedicated to the community, about which Felix Shapiro wrote the following almost a hundred years ago: "Many centuries ago history froze and turned to stone everything here, so that future generations could have the opportunity to naturally observe the past."
In addition to organizers, director general of "AzIz" and head of Sholumi center Shaul Siman-Tov, the evening was attended by deputy chief editor of the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia, Rabbi Zeev Wagner, prisoners of Zion Valery Karenblit and Joseph Begun, Dr. Elena Birgauz, poets Batsion Abramov and Shabtai Agarunov, historian Tamara Rafailova.