According to tradition Caucasian Jews descended from the Ten Tribes exiled from the Kingdom of Israel in the first millenium BCE, making them one of the oldest communities of Jewish people anywhere. This remarkable population preserved its Jewish identity and developed a culture of its own in a region inhabited by a host of different peoples and plagued by ethnic tensions. The term "Mountain Jews" (they call themselves "Juhur") dates back to Imperial Russia's occupation of the Caucasus in the early nineteenth century, when the tsar's visiting representative referred to "Mountain Jews" living mainly in the east and north of the Caucasus range, in what is today the largely Muslim areas of Dagestan and Azerbaijan.
After their emigration to Israel, Caucasian Jews continued to resist integration, sharing in Israel's upbuilding without losing touch with their roots in and ties to the Caucasus. Along with her fellow essayists Mordechai Altshuler, Moshe Yosifov, Michael Zand, Ariella Amar, Boris Khaimovich, Anatoly Binyaminov, and Tyilo Khizghilov, author Liya Mikdash-Shamailov, a Jew of Caucasian origin, successfully blends her scientific interest in the community with her own special affinity with its culture. The fruit of many years of field work and extensive research, Mountain Jews presents, in words and striking pictures of this people and its practices, the history, spiritual life, language and literature, daily life, material culture, and decorative arts which together define the rich and extraordinary cultural heritage of Caucasian, "Mountain" Jews.