On a beautiful day in May, Sergey Kadinsky, the Constituent Relations Liaison in New York City Council Member Karen Koslowitz’s office, welcomed our group to Elmhurst, Queens, ‘the most diverse neighborhood in the world.’
A knowledgeable history teacher, Sergey said Bukhara is a city in Central Asia. As early as the 10th Century, many Jews travelled there for trade, while others arrived after being exiled from their homelands.
Sergey took us to a private Jewish school, the Queens Gymnasia, to see the Bukharian Museum on the sixth floor. Aron Aronov, Executive Director of the museum, was a born storyteller. The museum is his own private collection, which began in his basement.
There are over 2,000 items – from a 400-year-old deerskin Torah and racks of silk robes & gold-embroidered tapestries to musical instruments, portraits of rabbis, and many books. Bukharians are encouraged to write books about their lives, Aronov explained. “I am not afraid to die. I am afraid to disappear and have my grandchildren not know about their history or their culture.”
In fact, many Jews left Bukhara when their language and culture were banned under Soviet rule. Today, there are 60,000 Bukharian Jews in the U.S. – most of them in Queens.
After the museum, Sergey took us to Rego Park, named for the Real Good Construction Company, which developed the area in the 1920’s. We lunched at a Bukharian Kosher restaurant and had Samsa, a pumpkin-filled pastry, and creamy mint green soda. None of us was brave enough to order the veal feet soup – maybe next time?
The public is welcome to visit Aronov’s collection. Call 718-896-8456 to make an appointment.