Restoring the Jewish Traditions of Alevism

Alevism is extraordinarily diverse with often each tribe having very distinctive tribal traditions and practices. Many Jewish traditions of Alevism are not universal in Alevism but are practiced locally, regionally and by tribes. As Alevism has become increasingly urbanized in recent decades, needs Alevism take on a restorative de-Islamization process of taking tribal, local and regional Jewish Alevi customs and once more make them universal to Alevism as they once surely were. Many ancient Jewish traditions have no doubt been lost in the past 27 centuries of exile from the land of Israel but Alevis can protect their heritage by universalizing tribal, local and regional Jewish Alevi customs and make them normative for Alevism generally. 

It is crucial to realize that Alevism never ceased to be inspired by Rabbinic Judaism and an important example of that is Alevi Dedes dressing in the style of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. Very few Alevi Dedes were probably initiated into Esoteric Judaism and given knowledge about the true nature, origin and existence of Median Judaism. Even fewer rabbis were likely given access to this knowledge in Rabbinic Judaism.

Alevism has in recent centuries seen incremental processes of Islamization and increasing loss of Jewish traditions which were however often still selectively maintained tribally, locally and regionally. Alevism needs a revolution in its religious life whereby it reverses centuries of Islamization and brings back still existing Jewish Alevi traditions to the center of Alevi religious life. 

This is especially important in preparation for mass Aliyah (immigation) to Israel as the Islamic veneer of Alevis, Bektashis and Alawites will no doubt be a sensitive issue for Rabbinically Jewish Israelis and the sooner the Islamic veneer is removed the better. For Alevism this mostly involves reforming the text of the Cem Haggadah musical recital to remove references to Islamic figures. Alevism is comprehensively Crypto-Judaism with only a very slight Islamic veneer as Alevis are not Muslims, do not believe in Islam or practice Islam. While entirely lost traditions cannot be restored, what has been retained by tribal, local and regional groups of Alevis can be restored to past glory by once more becoming part of mainstream Alevism.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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