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In Queens, New York, Cyrillic signs adorn storefronts, restaurants with names like Shalom and Cheburechnaya serve bread baked in a tandoor and a museum showcases elaborate robes and kippot - all signs of the thriving community that came from Central Asia, bringing their unique heritage with them.
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."Every day, every restaurant is full," says Lana Levitin, a real estate broker and manager of Maqam, a Bukharian musical ensemble."With 50,000 Jews, everyone has someone to remember." Sheva berakhot, bar mitzvas and birthday celebrations also fill the halls. At the remembrance for Kandinov, Levitin emphasizes the high intellectual and cultural level of the largely older crowd.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.The scene is repeated all through the year - with some variations - at two dozen or so restaurants that have sprung up to accommodate the thousands of Bukharian Jews who have settled in Queens since the early 1970s.Bukharian Jews are thriving here and elsewhere in the United States, modernizing yet trying to stay true to their heritage.
Memorials that used to be conducted at home are held in restaurants during shiva and at 30-day and 1-year anniversaries.
The memorials represent one custom among the many traditions members of the community are dedicated to maintaining in their diaspora.
Soon, the rabbi chants minha, the afternoon service, in the Middle Eastern-inflected Bukharian style.
The men stand and pray while the women remain seated and chat.
While the speeches extolling the deceased begin in Bukhori, also called Judeo-Persian (Farsi mixed with Hebrew, Aramaic, Uzbek and Tajik), which is the native tongue of the Bukharian Jews, the guests sip and munch.
Course after course is served: fried carp dipped in garliccilantro sauce; round meat pies (samboosak); dumlama, a wheel of baked cabbage, tomato, meat and pepper; and plov, rice spiced with cumin and crowned with julienned carrots, chick peas and meat.