The $15,000 that City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) presented to the Bukharian Jewish Center in Kew Gardens Hills last week helped to ensure the synagogue could continue to provide youth programs it may have struggled to offer without the money from the legislator, according to an assistant at the center.
“Money is held onto so tightly now, and it’s impossible to receive grants,” said Albina Khaimova, an assistant at the Bukharian Jewish Center. “It is very good we got funding from Councilman Gennaro’s office.”
The $15,000 provides a safety net for the group that is consistently looking for grant money to run its programs, but have found it hard to come by in a rough economy, Khaimova said.
The center is run by Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim, a synagogue in Kew Garden Hills.
The funding Gennaro secured will help the center to run Project CARE, which includes an after-school and weekend program that helps students with homework and aims to create a more unified community by having students learn about the cultures represented by the center’s 200 students.
Students who attend the center come from Bukharian, Spanish, African-American, Moroccan, Saudi Arabian, Asian and many other backgrounds, according to Khaimova.
Gennaro presented the check for $15,000 to Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov of Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim last week.
“The dollar amount to these programs is not great, but the benefit they provide is substantial,” Gennaro said. “They’re making a real difference for a nominal amount of money.”
The center has been providing the after-school program for the past three years and recently launched its weekend afternoon learning program.
Khaimova said the synagogue decided to begin its youth programs in an attempt to be “pro-active.”
“We started to realize there wasn’t a place the youth could really go to, other than just hanging out outside,” she said. “We decided instead of waiting for problems to occur that we wanted to give them a place where they can be safe and still have fun. They also get help with their studying.”
Khaimova said the 200 students who attend the center have made large leaps in both academics as well as in the way they are able to communicate with students from very different backgrounds than themselves.
“This is a safe haven for the kids,” she said. “We’ve seen the kids who come here learn together and learn how to openly communicate with one another. These kids are the future. In the future, they’ll be able to see someone from another culture and think of something beyond the stereotypes. With our programs, we go beyond stereotypes.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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