Friends and relatives have come to the Bukharian restaurant to honor the memory of prominent Jewish writer Lev Kandinov on the one-month anniversary of his death.Candles stand ready to be lit below his portrait, and long, rectangular tables are heaped with food: carrot, beet and mushroom salads; dishes of raisins, pickles and caraway wafers; non, a bialy-shaped bread topped with black sesame seeds; noni toqhi, matza-like in its flatness but baked into a curve against the dome of a tandoor; and bottles of seltzer, vodka and pots of green tea.At least a dozen synagogues - all Orthodox-serve the community (two opened this year) along with three day schools, several yeshivot, youth groups and Jewish organizations.
Although some left as early as the 1960s (the first Bukharian synagogue in Queens was established in 1965), emigration increased with perestroika in 1985 and then again after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Many made their way first to Israel and then resettled in the United States.
Their history and traditions differ both from the Caucasian, or Mountain, Jews, who hail from nearby Azerbaijan and Dagestan, and the Ashkenazic Russian Jews of northern cities such as Moscow, St. Yet all three groups experienced religious persecution under the Soviets.
The Bukharians suppressed all evidence of religious practice but were allowed to obtain higher education and establish careers.
When someone dies, "even if you've never heard of the person, you go to the funeral," says David Ribacoff, an ? There are former physics professors, physicians, dancers and other professionals fluent in a variety of Central Asian dialects.