"I always felt proud of being a Bukharian Jew," he said.
"It's the way I grew up, my childhood traditions, the way my grandparents live." After moving to Connecticut in 1993 at age 16 (he came to Lefrak City, NY, in 2002), Pinkhasov searched for Bukharian Jews on the Internet and found only scattered websites.
And although Abayev admits to feeling tempted to move out of his parents' house, - 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 on Friday night," referring to a traditional Bukharian dish.
Rybakov hopes to expand to theater, sports clubs, college planning sessions, and more.
"We want to continue among youth the music, culture, and traditional knowledge," he said.
Bukharian culture is integral to Abayev's identity. "To change would be partial suicide." To ensure that others follow Abayev's path, some young adults are starting organizations to keep Bukharian Jewish culture alive.
Peter Pinkhasov, 28, a paralegal, wears a gold Star of David necklace and no yarmulke, and became interested in the Bukharian Jewish traditions as a child hearing his grandfather's stories.
Today, the website has more than 950 registered members who chat, view photos, listen to music, and learn about Bukharian Jewish history, traditions, and culture."People are busy with jobs, and don't have enough time to educate children.Children become Americanized." Rybakov continued, "When a child becomes a teen, he asks the question, 'What does it mean to be a Bukharian Jew? ' And sometimes parents can't explain." He hopes that with the help of his organization, "Step by step, youth [will] become involved in Jewish tradition and community life." But for some Jews of Abayev and Rybakov's generation, culture is not enough.But for the majority in the tight-knit community, being a Bukharian Jew increasingly means emphasizing the cultural traditions they brought with them from Uzbekistan, creating organizations and institutions to perpetuate knowledge of Bukharian Jewish history, food, music, and family values.Abayev, for example, 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.For some, defining their identity means using new-found religious freedom and knowledge to rediscover the traditional Jewish observances of their ancestors.