Hundreds cheer magazine at Russian Jewish Festival

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Musical performers from around the world entertained hundreds at the Russian Jewish Community Festival Sunday at Forest Hills HS.

The festival was held in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Ohr-Natan, the Educational Center for Russian Jewry located in Rego Park, and its a Russian-language magazine Druzhba.

Performances included the songs of Simkha Mulladjanov, the 3-year-old “Wonder Kid” from Tajikistan, and the Shashmakom ensemble from Uzbekistan playing Central Asian melodies. A member of Shashmakom swung a six-foot horn over the heads of the audience as he marched down the aisle.

Nahum Kaziev, director of the educational center, moderated the evening, speaking in both Russian and English.

“We are marking this anniversary on a very sad note,” said Kaziev, who dedicated the ceremonies to those lost in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. “Although our official mourning period has ended, our mourning period will continue for many years to come.”

Before the entertainment began, politicians and civic leaders congratulated Ohr-Natan on helping the community.

“It’s a real honor for me to be here among you people of great culture and great faith,” said James Gennaro, the Democratic candidate for City Councilman Morton Povman’s (D-Forest Hills) seat. “One of the many ways for the city to stay together is through communities like this one.”

Dr. Judy Rosen, a member of School Board 28, spoke to the crowd about issues facing the Russian Jewish immigrant community.

“We want to start registering the parents of children,” she said. “You don’t have to be a citizen. But we want you to vote on the school board.”

Helen Marshall, Democratic candidate for Queens borough president, and Melinda Katz, Democratic candidate for City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s (D-Forest Hills) seat, also attended. Katz presented a declaration from Borough President Claire Shulman to Druzhba editor Miriam Yakubov proclaiming Oct. 14 “Druzhba Day” for the borough.

Most at the ceremony were from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to the United States in recent years. Many praised the magazine Druzhba for its role in the community.

“I’ve been living in New York for 3 1/2 years. Every time I get this magazine, it’s very interesting for me,” said Maya Tamayeva, who left Uzbekistan and now lives in Forest Hills. “It’s necessary for our community. It shows our unity.”

Besides publishing Druzhba, Ohr-Natan, a non-profit organization, also offers English and Hebrew classes, an after- school program, counseling and food distribution to Queens families in need.

It was both Ohr-Natan’s services and the strong reputation of the show which brought the hundreds to Forest Hills HS.

“Last year I was here, and it was very beautiful,” said Nina Tuchalov, a clerk from Borough Park, Brooklyn. “I love it.”

Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Updated 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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