By Erin Levi
It’s one of New York City’s best kept secrets—but its future is in peril. Hopefully, a grant application for funding will save the Bukharian Jewish Museum.
The Bukharian Jewish Museum, the only ethnology museum in the world that’s dedicated to Bukharian Jews, is more than just a museum—it’s a show-and-tell experience, led by the museum’s founder and director, Mr. Aron Aronov, a multilingual charmer who regales visitors with fascinating factoids and stories pertaining to the difficult history and rich culture of his people.
Since its founding in 1990, the museum has changed locations a few times—from Mr. Aronov’s basement to the top floor of JIQ (Jewish Institute of Queens), to its current location in a new residential building at 99-01 64rd Road in Rego Park, Queens.
The massive ground-floor space, packed with thousands of historic artifacts, textiles, and photos, most of which has been collected during Mr. Aronov’s yearly travels to Uzbekistan, has been donated by Mr. Yan Moshe, Sq. But for how long is unclear.
With no permanent home or clear «heir» to lead the museum, a non-profit once again thanks to Diana Rachnaev’s help, let alone any fulltime or parttime employees, it’s unclear how it will survive. That’s why Rachnaev, who serves as the Bukharian Liaison for Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., invited the 3rd-term Senator to visit last month, in hopes to get him on board to support grant applications that would help sustain the museum’s activities. («How can I get funding into this museum? How can we preserve it and enhance it?’ Rachnaev said to the Bukharian Times.)
And so, on August 1, 2023, Senator Addabbo Jr. made his first visit to the legendary Bukharian Jewish Museum:
«It was an eye-opener for me to meet Mr. Aronov and walk through his museum. To see the struggles through the eyes of the people and learn about a culture that’s so different from New York’s,» said Senator Addabbo Jr. (Diana Rachnaev confirmed the Senator’s reaction: «His jaw dropped when he entered.»)
«I appreciate the efforts of Mr. Aronov—the way he arranged it, almost chronologically. You can see the thought and passion that went into it. The museum not only tells a story, taking visitors on an emotional journey, but is the pride of the people.
«However, in the end, it needs a home. Sometime in the future I would like it to be accessible to the public. I think with a little persistence and vision, it could happen,» said the Senator.
In the meantime, the Senator thinks the museum should be on the curriculum of nearby schools—»It’s a learning experience for children, offering so much more than pages in a book.»