Circassians in Israel
The Circassians in Israel refers to the Adyghe community who live in Israel. They are Sunni Muslims, they tend to put an emphasis on the separation between their religion and their nationality. Israel has about 4,000 Circassians, who are mainly centered in two villages of Kfar Kama and Rehaniya.
Circassians, who arrived in this country in the 19th century, originated in the northern Caucasus Mountains, the region where Europe and Asia meet. Their neighbors called them Circassians which means mountain dwellers, but their original name is Adigai, meaning noble. The Circassians converted to Islam from Christianity in the mid-17th century, when they encountered the Tatars and the Turks along the silk route through their region. Following defeat in a long war against the Russian Empire, the Circassians were exiled to Ottoman Turkish areas, including the Mediterranean, where they practiced their famed martial skills in the service of the Ottoman Empire.
The village of Kfar Kama is a proud showcase of Circassian culture. The highlight of a visit here is the Circassian Museum, located in a traditional old basalt house. The exhibits bring alive the agricultural roots, language and customs of this community, which is working to meet the challenge of preserving its traditions despite its small numbers, while taking pride in its contribution to the state of Israel. A special treat is a village tour, taking in some of the old preserved homes and hearing colorful tales of the first settlers who arrived here in 1878.
Tours of the Circassian Museum, Kfar Kama and special Circassian cultural events:
Cell phone: 050-5857640
Telephone/ fax: 077-7800204
Circassians, the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Caucasus were cleansed from their homeland at the end of the Caucasian War by victorious Russia, which, some argue, by its manner of suppression of the Caucasus directed at the Crimean Tartars and Circassians can be credited with “inventing the strategy of modern ethnic cleansing and genocide.” The expulsion was launched even before the end of the war in 1864 and it continued into the 1870s, although it was mostly completed by 1867. The peoples involved were mainly the Circassians (Adyghe in their own language), Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza.