Bukharian Jews Call Forest Hill Fires Hate Crimes

Fire destroys a property in Forest Hill. (Photo via The Jewish Week)

Fire destroys a property in Forest Hill. (Photo via The Jewish Week)

Seven fires in recent weeks have destroyed residential buildings under construction in Forest Hills. One fact much of the mainstream media has failed to mention, community leader Aron Borukhov tells The Jewish Week’s Hannah Dreyfus, is the common link between the owners of the buildings: they’re all Bukharian Jews.

Though officials declined to call the incidents hate crimes, members of the local Bukharian community held no reservations in doing so.

“If seven Jewish homes had been burned in France within a month, there would be much more of an uproar,” said Boris Yuabov, a doctor who has lived in the community for the past six years with his three children. He described standing with his non-Jewish neighbors and watching a site on the corner of his block collapse and burn to the ground. “We are scared. These fires are started in the dead of night in a neighborhood with many children and elderly individuals. This is a life-threatening situation.”

About 20 from the Bukharian Jewish community, along with other locals, met at the Bukharian Community Center on Sunday, Nov. 29, to address the spate of fires. While Council member Karen Koslowitz attended, no one from the FDNY or NYPD made an appearance, community members noted.

Mark Kandkhorov, 29, who lives a block from the location of one of the fires, compared the arsons to “terrorist attacks.”

“This is not just a Bukharian issue — this is a Jewish issue,” he said.

See The Jewish Week to read about concerns from members of the Bukharian Jewish community, as well as from a Jewish, non-Bukharian resident who called the common trait between the home owners the “elephant in the room.”

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