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.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.Peter Pinkhasov, 28, founded Bukharian Jews.com, a Web site with 950 registered members who chat, view photos, listen to music and read about Bukharian Jewish history, traditions and culture. Imonuel Rybakov, 23, a Queens College finance major, founded Achdut in 2002, a cultural organization that targets 16-to-35-year-old Bukharian Jews, running festivals, lectures, a band, political volunteering and online classes in the Bukharian Jewish language, a dialect of Farsi.Discussions can attract 100 people, Rybakov said, and dance parties nearly 500.Although Abayev admits to feeling tempted to move away from his parents’ watchful eyes, “I really can’t do that,” he says. You may find a job and girlfriend but you won’t have a family connection.You won’t have bachsh,” a traditional Bukharian dish, on Friday night.
For the first time, Bukharian Jews have access to yeshivas.Chief Rabbi Itzhak Yehoshua estimates approximately 40 percent of Bukharian Jewish elementary school students nationwide attend Jewish schools, half of them Bukharian schools. Many of these Jews find identity through culture — eating Bukharian Jewish food, listening to traditional music, learning their ancestors’ history, or dating other Bukharian Jews.Abayev, the accountant living in Fresh Meadows, defines himself as “50 percent Bukharian, 30 percent Jewish and 20 percent American.” He talks passionately about attending celebrations with Bukharian music, eating traditional home-cooked food, welcoming guests and spending Friday night dinners with family. “To change would be partial suicide.” To ensure that others follow Abayev’s path, some young adults are starting organizations to keep their culture alive. 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.Rybakov said 80 percent of those who get engaged keep the ritual of shirini huri, a party that includes eating sweets, Bukharian music, dress and dancing.