I was appalled to read the letter from Anonymous who opines that people are moving out of the community because “Bukharians are moving in by the droves.” How tragic that she spews such sin’as chinam right before the Three Weeks.
Madam, please don’t speak for Ashkenazim, other than perhaps your group of small-minded individuals. I am of Ashkenazi descent, and I am delighted with the renaissance taking place in our neighborhoods due to the influx of the Bukharian community. Stop and think for a moment how our communities would look without our Bukharian brothers and sisters moving in. Regardless of the constituency, young couples would be leaving in droves to live with their peers in the Five Towns area, or move to Florida to escape this crime-ridden city.
The Bukharian community is to be admired for their intelligence, industriousness, and desire to build and beautify. They should be appreciated for the vibrancy they bring to our community (indeed, the entire Jewish world is indebted to the Kolyakov brothers and Chazaq for their dedication to disseminate thousands of Torah shiurim). And they should be respected for having lived for 70 years under Communist rule, yet still tenaciously holding on to their faith – and growing spiritually, baruch Hashem, thanks to the amazing efforts of the many choshuve rabbanim.
On a personal note, I have the great pleasure of having as neighbors Diana and Raphael and their four beautiful children, who moved next door a few years ago and are a delight as neighbors. Khal Bais Yitzchok of Jamaica Estates, where I daven, has only been enriched by the presence of our Bukharian mispalelim, kein yirbu. I enjoy the many wonderful new stores and their proprietors, such as Effie of Prime Pharmacy, one of the most honest and caring people you’ll meet, as just one example.
Every one of us has a cheilek Elokai mi’maal, a tzelem Elokim. During the upcoming period of bein ha’metzarim, let’s recognize and appreciate the tremendous good that the Bukharian community has done for the Queens community.
May we all merit to “move in droves” to Yerushalayim HaB’nuyah, im yirtzeh Hashem, with the coming of Mashiach b’karov.
Hillcrest/Fresh Meadows, New York
Kudos to the Queens Jewish Link on your write-up of Rabbi Dr. Richard Weiss, the departing rav of the Young Israel of Hillcrest. There is no more dedicated professional rabbi anywhere that I have ever seen than Rabbi Weiss. Everyone in Hillcrest, including those who don’t daven in the Young Israel, has a Rabbi Weiss story in which the rav has gone over and above the call of duty for him or her.
There are endless stories of vacations he cut short, planes he missed, trips to the ends of New York, New Jersey, or elsewhere he made for a wedding, bar mitzvah, or shiv’ah – chesed he did shtil a heis, quietly and modestly. He also kept us all safe throughout the COVID pandemic by seeing that we were all cautious and even overly cautious throughout.
He will be sorely missed, and we all wish him and Rebbetzin Adina and children the best in their future endeavors.
In light of the upcoming November elections, Rabbi Schonfeld’s article regarding which candidates are being promoted in our circles is crucial. I agree that despite what may possibly be “smart calculations,” we must support those candidates who will keep our community safe and represent values closest to ours.
Is it halachically even allowed for yeshivos to accept government funding? This question was debated by the g’dolim, including Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l back in 1961. What were the potential isurim?
We could never allow the government to have a say in our yeshivos, which are run according to our holy mesorah. How did the heter come about? The poverty back then was huge and many of the children would have otherwise gone to public schools had there been no outside funding. Even so, they deliberated for months. The g’dolim were assured that government interference would never happen. Only with the firm guarantee that the government would have no say in the running of our yeshivos was the heter given to accept the money.
Clearly, the guarantee on which the heter was based no longer applies. The government is interfering in the most egregious ways in our yeshivos. For example, they mandate a certain number of hours of secular subjects, which topics, and how they are taught. They are also seeking to mandate that to’eivah be taught in our schools. The indoctrination of children, starting in preschool, has already started in the public schools and some of the Modern Orthodox schools, as well.
The question is: Would Rav Aharon have given his heter to accept government money if he was looking at our current situation?
I will leave it to the reader to use his imagination.
Incidentally, the same to’eivah curriculum is being planned in schools across Israel this coming fall, as well. I have seen the colorful books quietly being put in the preschools, hoping to indoctrinate the children and turn them, chas v’shalom, away from our Torah values. How did this happen? The government in Israel, which has just fallen, was the friendliest to those pushing this progressive agenda, particularly by the well-funded and active Reform movement. What can be done to stop this? An organization called Liba Center is prepared to start a mass media campaign to alert parents who have no clue what is coming to their children’s classrooms. What can we do here? As Rabbi Schonfeld said, support candidates who represent values closest to ours.
“These things happen.” Yes, they do. If you ask the hairdresser to snip off one inch of hair, and she cuts off 1½ inches of hair, it happened. If you tell the guy at the bagel shop, “No lettuce or tomatoes,” and he inserts them into your sandwich, it happened. Neither case is a big deal. However, if your eye surgeon performs cataract surgery on your right eye instead of your left eye, that is a big deal, and he can’t make that comment to you.
I bring up this subject because the other day, when I was depositing my weekly pills into the seven-day pill box (yes, I’m not a spring chicken), I looked at the pharmacy bag of one of my pills, which had my name and the correct drug typed on it. However, when I removed the pill bottle from the bag, it had a different Horowitz on the label and a different drug. I freaked out, because the pill I needed was a chemo pill, and the pills in the bottle were for another condition. I was more worried for the other recipient of the wrong pills than I was for myself, so I hurried to S&M and told them about the error. I implored them to call the other person, but the pharmacist assured me she had received the correct pills. No apologies. She just told me I should have double-checked everything and added, “These things happen.”
This article started out as one discussing Hasagas G’vul. How many pharmacies does one need in a one-mile area? There are so many that I recognize the Russian word for pharmacy. Yet, when one needs COVID-19 pills, he must go to Union Turnpike. How about a shoe store, another hardware store, a Traditions, or a Dougie’s? We have enough sushi to feed all of Japan.
The bottom line is: Read the bag and bottle of pills carefully! Caveat Emptor! (“Buyer beware!” for those of us who didn’t take junior year Latin.)
On the passing of James Caan, most will always remember him as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. But many of us, including me, also remember his role in the 1996 movie Eraser. We laughed when he said, “Get me a wet nap.” Wash ’n Dri didn’t want to ante up and pay for product placement. The Godfather would have made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Great Neck, New York
This letter is regarding the anonymous comments about the shift in neighborhood and increase in housing prices in the paper two weeks ago. I read this paper weekly and have never been compelled to write my opinion until now.
Initially, I was shocked to read such heavy statements made from one Jew to another. While the author claimed that she didn’t have a problem and got along with all Jews (a Jew is a Jew is a Jew), there is more beneath the surface to that comment. To respond to an issue means you care about it enough and would like your opinion to be heard. We all heard what you were trying to say, anonymously of course. I’m unsure where to begin tackling the issue at hand.
Firstly, I can say without a doubt that these comments and thoughts that others are supposedly thinking, as well, is the reason we are still in galus. The author stated that the shift in the neighborhood was attributed to the number of Asians and Bukharians moving in, making the neighborhood have less of an Ashkenazi feel. How can this author compare goyim to Jews? Would they have rather Main Street be dominated by Asians, as we see in China Town? The price of homes going up was not created by Bukharians; on the contrary, it is the Ashkenazim moving out who are making a 300% profit (their words not mine).
This issue has been sitting with me all week now. I feel that we have contributed a lot to the development of this community, building more shuls, community programs, community centers, daycares, restaurants, yeshivos, and so much more. A few weeks ago, I was sitting with a diverse group of ladies on a Shabbos afternoon, and one of the neighbors said straight to my face, as she was looking at a group of Bukharian/Sefardi women covering their hair with a “Bobo” and not a wig, “Where did they all come from? Can’t they go back to where they came from??” I was in utter shock and confronted this woman. I stated, “I am Bukharian, you know that right?” and her response was: “I know that and I still said it.”
How can one Jew say this to another Jew? Is it better for gentiles to infiltrate this area? I was born and raised in Kew Gardens Hills and am raising my children here, as well. I grew up in this community all of my life, and on a very “chashuve” block. My family was never greeted or welcomed properly, as we were the first Sefardi family on the block. Maybe one or two families welcomed us with a smile and a greeting. We are a very social family and did not let their negativity affect us. My parents always taught us to be proud of our history and heritage and never forget where we came from. It was ingrained in us: Be friendly, respectful, and love one another.
We all attended the Ashkenazi yeshivos and tried to blend in. The bottom line is that silent hatred, sin’as chinam, still exists. This is my community just as much as it is my neighbors. I genuinely feel sorry for those who feel that we are coming in like “droves” and giving the community a less Ashkenazi feel. If you would just stop judging us by our names, you could get to know us better. If you are upset by the rise in prices, please remember that it’s not the Bukharian families that are selling. It is not our job as Jews to highlight each other’s flaws. As we sit here and create divides, the goyim are laughing and rejoicing, as they are winning.
The same problems that destroyed our Holy Temple, the Beis HaMikdash, are present today. We haven’t learned to unite as a nation, despite our geographical differences. We cry every Tish’ah B’Av, but why do we cry if we haven’t changed our old ways? Let us change the course of history and unite as a nation. Otherwise, history will repeat itself.
One last thing, and this seems to be hard for some, but teach your children to love and accept all Jews of all colors and backgrounds. Maybe then you may get the feel that you’re looking for from this community.
Your fellow Jew
I’m from the older generation, as my grandkids tell me. My parents worked hard, and when I finished school, I began to work. I didn’t stop working until I retired to collect a pension. My wife and I saved and we skimped and we didn’t go on a fancy vacation every year or even any year. Car trips in the summer were fine and we all survived. We bought a house several decades ago. Yes, prices were different then, and salaries were different, but times change.
Is Goldy asking for someone to buy her a house? I didn’t understand. Is she stating a fact that real estate prices are high? If she’s stating a fact, then she should include everything in that statement. With our economy and our President, prices won’t be heading down anytime soon. I’m not saying younger people aren’t working hard, but you have to go without extras in order to save and finally buy the house, or car, of your dreams.
I’m writing in response to the anonymous opinion piece that was written replying to the article by Goldy Krantz. In this article, the author listed a reason as to why she feels that Ashkenazim are moving out of Kew Garden Hills: “Bucharians are moving in by the droves.”
I’m wondering how many years of yeshivah education you received growing up? The way this article masks itself as a “don’t shoot the messenger” style is unfortunately not doing a very good job.
You might feel a certain way, and regardless as to whether or not your opinion is shared by others (or if it’s even valid/biased/prejudiced), you have a responsibility to not share everything you’re thinking.
Did you think for a moment about the implication of your words? Did you bat your eyelashes even once in thought as to how much hatred you spewed with your article? It’s one thing to put all Bukharian (religious or irreligious) in the same category. It’s another thing to house all other Sefardim in the same category. Now it’s just a kick in the stomach when you categorize gentiles in the same sentence as Jews – Jews who were born of a different culture than what you are accustomed to.
I never saw an Ashkenazi have a problem with Asians when he needed them as a Shabbos goy. You don’t have anything bad to say about the Asian when you are in a pinch. Yet, regardless of the fact that the restaurants you patronize and enjoy are owned by many frum Bukharians, and regardless of the countless amount of funding that the Bukharians funnel into the community for prestigious and religious establishments, they are still categorized as shvartzes and “sug beis degenerates.”
You claim to be a messenger, but what message are you portraying other than sin’as chinam to the kahal? It pains me to feel forced into this position, feeling the need to defend the very same neighbors who would rush to make you chicken soup if you are ill, the same neighbors who heartily wish you a good Shabbos, the same neighbors who would drop everything and joyously help you in your time of need. It pains me that any sect of Judaism is put into the corner, pointed a finger at, and degraded.
Many times, I question why such hatred exists among the Jewish nation. Sometimes when there are campaigns to raise money for worthy reasons in the neighborhood, I find myself wondering why there isn’t just as much effort placed on awareness and education. How much do you truly believe in the preciousness of every Jewish neshamah? Are we not all created “b’tzelem Elokim?” Don’t we all have the special spark within us? Does Hashem differentiate us in Shamayim?
You said yourself in your article, “a Jew is a Jew is a Jew is a Jew.” But do you really believe your own words? After reading your article, I felt nothing but negativity and disgust. I expected more from someone I’m sure was brought up with better education and a better set of values.
I didn’t know it’s a mitzvah to alienate people who don’t look like you, speak like you, and dress like you, but at the end of the day share the same G-d as you!
Did you ever stop to wonder why it is that Bukharians are moving into the community? Maybe they want their children, the next generation, to build their lives with the right types of foundations, unlike the upbringing they received in Communist Russia amongst Muslim neighbors. Do you know what it’s like to attend school in Communist Russia? Jews were beaten, cursed, and spit on just for being a Jew. It seems like your article is doing the exact same thing – except you’re a Jew, and so are they!
Do you think you are the only people who are moser nefesh for your religion? Do you feel that their children are any less than yours? Did you ask yourself what they must have gone through to get to this point right now? Yet you stand there from a conceited and privileged platform and write articles like this that fuel the flame and make the hate even worse. You think they don’t have their own battles? Why not look at where they came from, what they accomplished and still daily strive to accomplish? Why not look with admiration at the grit and perseverance they put into growing in Yiddishkeit and maybe say, “Wow, it’s not easy, but look how much you are striving to become a person who fulfills his or her own potential?” According to your article, they have no z’chus to exist! You are so allergic to “a Jew who’s a Jew who’s a Jew” that you don’t even want them living next to you! “What will Kew Gardens Hills look like in ten years from now?” Who says you will be zocheh to see it if you’re so eager to run away? What happened to encouraging words, positivity, and building up the community?
The beauty of Kew Gardens Hills is that there are so many types of Jews. I always tell my husband that Mashiach must be a KGH chasid filled with ahavas Yisrael. People who publicize opinions such as those you posted are preventing it from happening. Your words spew hatred. Did you forget why the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed? Why would you say such horrendous things in a public forum? There are people whose opinions are not formed, or whose opinions are different from yours.
I’m sure some Sefardim also have opinions about Ashkenazim, but they don’t share them publicly. They have hakaras ha’tov for all that the many unbiased Ashkenazim do and continue to do for them. Is it a sin that the newer generation is trying to grow and develop their character? They are not perfect like you yet, but does that give you a reason to judge them? You seem to have a negative outlook on people who are going out of their way to try to become better Jews and closer to Hashem. Let’s address the real “elephant in the room”: They walk around feeling hated by people like you every day but your article doesn’t need to etch these feelings into stone. It does not need to be said and people do not need to come to their aid either.
L’chatchilah, it was hurtful. But, hey, you’re just a messenger, right?
Regarding the construction of Kew Gardens Hills Miveh Israel, I have heard that many have taken advantage of the mikvos in the neighboring communities of Briarwood and Forest Hills, as well as a men's option at Khal Machzekei Hadas. Currently, the KGH mikveh continues to offer service for women and keilim. Please note, this courtesy of Mikveh Israel is subject to change.