2016-06-08 / Front Page

Congregation Ohr Natan Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Congregation Ohr Natan, a preeminent shul and community center for the large and increasingly organized Bukharian Jewish population of Queens since 1986, celebrated their 30th Anniversary with a festival that drew moe than 550 people to the Congregation's home in the iconic Trylon Theater on Queens Blvd on Sunday, May 29th.

Ohr Natan is in the midst of difficult negotiations to keep their home in the Trylon Theater, which the congregation renovated for $2 million, and has paid another $2 million in rent for. RJ Capital Holdings, the developer who now owns the building, is seeking to evict Ohr Natan to build an office tower, which may also have luxury housing.

The religious and social services focus for over 1,000 families, Ohr Natan has been trying to partner with the building owner to buy the portion of the building it uses. Those discussions have unfortunately not progressed, though the Congregation wishes they would. The Congregation's lease is set to expire in February of 2017. In addition to being an active synagogue, Ohr Nathan provides meals to over 450 families, classes for English Language Learners, after school programs, and activities for at-risk youth.

"Of course communities change, and sometimes developers tear down unused houses of worship," said Rabbi Nahum Kaziev of Ohr Natan. "But to evict and demolish a functioning and thriving Congregation is an entirely different story which should have a different ending. We remain hopeful for a constructive dialogue."

A day of celebration, song, and prayer in glorious weather, Sunday's festival had a bittersweet undercurrent due to the uncertain and potentially dire real estate situation.

Ohr Natan has a significant footprint in our shared civic life, publishing two magazines in addition to their social services work. DRUZHBA is the largest Jewish publication in Russian language in the United States, and Shalom, their youth publication in English language, are widely read in Jewish modern immigrant communities throughout New York City.

"With so much uncertainty and hurtful language all around us in current events, and with newspapers every day reporting on possible scandals negatively impacting communities at sea in a city obsessed with wealth, having an active spiritual home to depend on makes a real difference in the lives of these Queens families. I hope those in a position to help shape a positive resolution take notice," Rabbi Kaziev concluded.

Please see attached pictures from Sunday's event.

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