Queens, NY – Landlords of the large Ohr Natan Shul and Community Center in Rego Park have ordered the organization to vacate its adjacent officers on September 30th, just days before Yom Kippur when the Center is buzzing with activity. The latest action is part of a campaign to evict the entire shul and community organization with its membership of 1000 Bukharian Jews when its lease expires in 2017.The offices in an adjacent building are used by Ohr Natan to coordinate its broad slate of activities, including adult education, anti-missionary program, food distribution and more. In May, more than 50 residents of Rego Park jammed into a 4th floor courtroom of the Queens Civil Court on behalf of Ohr Natan. The court ruled that the Trylonn LLC developers could not evict Ohr Natan prior to the expiration of the lease.
Rabbi Nahum Kaziev, the spiritual leader and head of Ohr Natan called the evictioin notice “the latest chapter in an attempt to evict Ohr Natan well before its lease expires.” He added: “How shameful is itg that a group with roots in the community should seek a remedy from the courts right before Yom Kippur when many of our activities are in high gear.”
Founded in 1986, Ohr Natan invested more than $2.1 to renovate the old Trylon Theater on Queens Blvd as well as $1.2 million in rent as one of the major shuls and community centers for the area’s large Bukharian Jewish population. The Trylon LLC developers that acquired the building had informed Ohr Natan of their intention to build a housing development on the site leaving the shul and its 1000 members “on the street.” According to Rabbi Nachum Kaziev, spiritual leader and head of Ohr Natan, “once the developers became aware of our intent to fight the planned 2017 eviction when our lease officially ends, they began a series of legal maneuvers that would move up the date of expulsion to as early as weeks from now.” He said that the Bukharian Jews were already denied any access to their ancient heritage as a result of living under Communism for 70 years, are being actively recruited by missionaries and now face the ultimate rejection as the shul and center they have adopted sends them packing.”
In addition to its fully functioning shul with tefillois and shiurim, Ohr Natan offers a full program of after school programs, adult education (including ESL), food distribution and many events. Since 1991, it publishes Druzhba, a monthly magazine with a circulation of 80,000 people throughout the five boroughs, the largest publications read by immigrants of the former Soviet Union.
Rabbi Kaziev issued an urgent plea to save the shul and the “neshomos of 1000 Jews who may potentially be lost to our people forever as the danger of assimilation threatens to take its toll on this group of Jews.”