Ohr Natan celebrates 30 years of service
by Jennifer Khedaroo
May 31, 2016 | 3491 views | 0 0 comments | 133 133 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While an ongoing battle over the future of Ohr Natan in Rego Park continues, the center and its congregation gathered on Sunday night to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the center.

With over 20 performers and nearly 600 attendees, the event celebrated the center’s programming in the community that caters to everyone from children to seniors.

The center was named after Natan Yakubov, a former teacher who taught Bukharian youth Hebrew and Judaism in the Soviet Union. When he immigrated to the U.S. in 1977, he wanted to provide programs for the growing Bukharian community.

His daughter, Dr. Miriam Natan, spoke about the importance of the center and the community in a riveting speech on Sunday night. She has continued her father’s efforts to provide services to the community since the 1980s.

During the celebration, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky recalled childhood memories, such as her father getting her to eat by counting in Russian.

"I’m here to congratulate Ohr Natan, Rabbi Kaziev and everyone in the Ohr Natan family for 30 years of service to the community,” Stavisky said. “You provide so many programs here for people who are either new arrivals or are here to reconnect with their heritage. I wish you another 30 years of service to the community."

During the festivities, several members of the congregation held signs calling on the community to help save Ohr Natan from potentially being evicted next year in place of a new housing development by developer RJ Capital Holdings.

"With the help of Senator Stavisky and the help of God and the congregation, we’re going to be here for many years,” Kaziev said.

Michael Perlman, chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, was impressed with the night’s turnout.

He said that if the developer wants to maintain a good reputation in the community, he will respect the strong sentiment for preservation of the block's classic architecture – the center is housed in the former Trylon Theater - and the community services Ohr Natan provides.

"I plan on creating a petition in conjunction with the rabbi and congregation's wishes, which will be one of several measures to prove how beneficial the synagogue and former theater is to our community and its history,” Perlman said. 
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