Abayev wants to get married, but first he must find a Bukharian Jewish woman who meets his parents’ approval.
He will not have premarital sex and will live with a woman only after marriage.
Abayev is one of 40,000 to 50,000 Bukharian Jews in Queens some are scattered in other cities across North America who struggle to maintain their identity while confronting the economic and cultural pressures of the United States.The struggle is most apparent among young Bukharian Jews, most of whom left Uzbekistan in Central Asia after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and are now trying to define their identity away from the surroundings that shaped their heritage and traditions.“When a child becomes a teen, he asks the question, ‘What does it mean to be a Bukharian Jew?’ ” says Imonuel Rybakov, chairman of the Association of Bukharian Jewish Youth of the USA Achdut. ’ And sometimes parents can’t explain.” For some, defining their identity means using newfound religious freedom and knowledge to rediscover their ancestors’ Orthodox Jewish past.Isabella Roberts, youth committee coordinator for the Bukharian Jewish Congress, said 10 percent of the community is becoming Orthodox; others estimate closer to 30 percent.
But for the majority in the tight-knit community, being a Bukharian Jew increasingly means emphasizing cultural traditions, creating organizations to perpetuate knowledge of Bukharian Jewish history, food, music and family values.This March the community will dedicate a new Jewish Community Center in Forest Hills, to house a synagogue, the Bukharian Jewish Congress, a group led by Israeli philanthropist Lev Leviev, himself a Bukhraian Jew, and other community organizations. “The way we grew up, the tradition’s not as important as it was for my grandmother or my mother,” said Nelya Mushiyeva, 23, who immigrated to the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens 12 years ago. 10 (JTA) David Abayev is a successful Manhattan accountant.He attended American schools, wears hip professional clothes, sips coffee at Starbucks, and speaks perfect English, with little indication that until 1991, he lived in Uzbekistan.But Abayev has a different mind-set about family than most of his coworkers.At 29, he still lives with his parents because in Bukharian Jewish culture, adults leave home only to begin their own family.