"There are very few bucharians left in the world, and we are dwindling in number. To add to all this, bucharians are intermarrying into non-bucharians, and even scarier, into non jews! Unfortenately, it seems as though we will lose our great heritage and it will be forgotten."This statement infused so much fear into me at the time, that I became eager to preserve our culture. However, I did not live in the center of Bucharian life- Queens, NY. Soon enough, I went to a yeshiva in Lakewood, NJ. Eventually, I visited my aunt and one of my relatives in queens. At this point (four years ago), I was not aware of any serious bucharian religious life and it seemed to me, that I must be one of the only bucharians in America to be religious along with a couple of others. I was shocked however, when I stepped into Bet Gavriel for Shabbat morning prayers. Of course, I was still the only one besides for Rabbi Yitzchakov to be wearing a black hat, but nevertheless, I was shocked with what I saw. All of my perceptions of who I am as a bucharian drastically changed. When I first arrived to queens, I visited Rabbi Chaimov's yeshiva, and there i was again baffled, " How could it be that there were so many white-shirted men sitting and learning!" After this experience, I was sure that Bucharians will survive and succeed in returning to the our status of observance of pre-soviet union era.
Since then, four years have past. Just yesterday, I spoke to my very good friend Danny Gadayev. In our conversation, he mentioned to me the great religious and communal boom that the bucharian community has experienced in the past three years.
"I am shocked at the amount of religious bucharians and at the percentage of them returning."He explained to me that we must start to now more about our accomplishments and how big the community is growing.
"We have grown immensely. There is a great need in Bucharian Rabbanim and much work to do. But we have definitely come far."Hopefully, we will together uncover our progress and see the journey we took to get there...