Partners in Caring
New York’s Bukharian Jewish community is only the most recent in a long line of immigrant groups JCCA has reached out to in order to help families adjust and thrive in a new country. New York’s Bukharian Jews began to come to America two decades ago, from the Central Asian republics of the Former Soviet Union. Over 40,000 Bukharians have settled in Queens. While many have prospered and adjusted well to America, a large number are still struggling with unemployment, near-poverty income levels and limited English skills.
Based on its long record of service to the Bukharian community—through the
Teen Lounge, Family Day Care, and Two Together Tutoring programs—JCCA's Vice President for Services to the Jewish Community Debby Perelmuter convened a series of meetings two years ago with Bukharian lay and religious leaders, as well as community professionals, to address challenges facing Bukharian young people.
The result was an ambitious program, Partners in Caring (Yachad), that pairs JCCA and five Bukharian communitybased organizations: Kehilat Sephardim, a synagogue; B-JOY, a young leadership organization; One Heart, a young marrieds and match-making organization, located at the Bukharian Jewish Congress; CACAJ, an after-school program for 6- to 15-yearolds; and a girls’ Yeshiva, sponsored by Congregation Bet Gavriel. Funded by a 3-year grant from UJA’s Caring Commission to JCCA and FEGS, Partners in Caring brings needed social services, as defined by the community itself, to places where people already come, like synagogues and Y’s.
Started this past fall, Yachad—which means ‘together’ in Hebrew—serves at-risk Bukharian young people and their families through mentoring to assist youth, teaching parenting skills to young families, and through a “train the trainer” approach that works with rabbis around counseling on domestic violence. The program is staffed and coordinated by Russian-speaking social workers.
“Yachad is very much a partnership. JCCA has worked in the Bukharian community for a long time and we’ve been successful because we’ve have been culturally sensitive and shown that we understand the challenges the community faces here in America,” explains Ms. Perelmuter. “It’s an exciting model—going into the community where people who need services are already accustomed to coming—and our hope is it will work effectively with the Bukharian community.