By Anna Gustafson
The Forest Hillsâˆ’based Bukharian Jewish Congress endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday, with the group’s president
saying the billionaire candidate has made special efforts to reach out to his community.
Bukharians have been a growing presence in Queens, with about 40,000 Bukharians living in the Forest Hills and Rego Park areas.
“The Bukharian Jewish immigrant community is particularly concerned with their ability to nurture their culture, tradition and religion since they have made New York City their home,” Boris Kandov, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Mayor Mike Bloomberg has always taken the time to understand and listen to our community.”
Bloomberg opened his first campaign office outside Manhattan in Kew Gardens Saturday.
“The fact that Bukharian Jews make New York City their home says that our city continues to be a place where people of all backgrounds and experience can come and live freely, pursuing their aspirations and ambition while still preserving their culture and heritage,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Bukharian Jews primarily come from Central Asia, and following the breakup of the former Soviet Union, Bukharians found themselves confronting economic decline and civil unrest. According to the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, many of the world’s approximate 250,000 Bukharians left Central Asia for places like Israel and the United States.
Tension has surfaced between longtime Forest Hills residents and the Bukharians because the former say the Bukharians tear down smaller homes and replace them with McMansions that have little outside greenery. In response to many complaints about overdevelopment in the Cord Meyer area of Forest Hills, the Department of City Planning proposed a rezoning plan that would limit a home’s height and mandate that houses have yards.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat who represents Forest Hills, may be running for mayor, but the congressman recently announced in a letter of support that he would decide whether or not to make a bid for the city’s highest office late this spring.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 174.