Mikhail Abdurakhmanov, a gaunt, mustachioed man with salt-and-pepper hair and sharp facial features, is the last rabbi in Tajikistan. He greeted me wearily in the courtyard of the country’s only synagogue, located in a crammed neighborhood of the capital, Dushanbe. It opened in May 2009 and is almost impossible to find; for some time, it lacked an actual address
, which prevented the Jewish community from officially registering with the government. The building has no Jewish insignia on its exterior and is surrounded on all sides by high security gates. A group of children—some Jewish, some not—play loudly in the alleyway outside.
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