This is the first time that Mr. Leviev has brought nearly his entire family to Uzbekistan with him. "My children should know the burial places of their ancestors, the city where their parents and grandparents were born," he commented. "I just flew here from Krivoy Rog, where we have just opened a new Ohr Avner Chabad Day School in Ukraine. Now virtually our entire family is here in Tashkent".
At the airport’s entrance, the group was met with a performance by a national ensemble and a warm welcome by local residents. "Now Lev Leviev’s family is not only his children and grandchildren, but also the World Congress of Bukharian Jews, which he founded in 2000," explained Ben Binyaminov, Vice-President of the Congress. "It is difficult to imagine how the new history of our people would have developed if Lev Leviev had not appeared on the horizon".
"This is not my first time in Uzbekistan," commented Amnon Cohen, a Deputy in Israel’s Knesset. "Amongst the guests, there are many who have never been on the territory of their ancestors. They nervously stepped onto this land. They include successful businessmen and entrepreneurs who live in Israel. And now I can also tell them where I lived and studied until the time that I repatriated."
Visitors from Israel, the USA and Russia stayed at the Inter-Continental Hotel, the most prestigious and comfortable hotel in Uzbekistan. Amongst those from the USA were Aizik and Lilya Katan, Lev Nektalov, Raphael Nektalov and Artur Gulkarov. "I didn’t think that there would be such a luxurious hotel in Uzbekistan," commented Chai Davidov. "I recently visited Uzbekistan and am now finally visiting with my wife, who was just a girl when the USSR fell in the 1990s".
The organizers prepared a dinner in a Japanese garden, where each guest received a beautiful golden kimono and cap upon arriving. The tables were set up and musicians impressed everybody with a wonderful performance of classical Uzbek music.
During their stay, guests will also be visiting numerous cultural sites associated with Bukharian Jews – in Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand – as well as become better acquainted with the architectural masterpieces existing in the ancient cities of Central Asia. "Uzbekistan was a place where Bukharian Jews lived for two thousand years," explained Lev Leviev. "May our predecessors remember this enchanted and hospitable region".
On the evening of 5 April, the Tashkent State Opera and Ballet Theater hosted a concert for the Jewish community, where Lev Leviev delivered a speech, followed by Chief Rabbi of Uzbekistan David Gurevich, Israel Ambassador Avi Miel, and Knesset Member Amnon Cohen. Demonstrating the diversity of the countries where Jewish communities exist today, guests then enjoyed performances by Uzbek artists, Israeli comedian Chai Davidov, American dancer Artur Gulkarov, and the Chief Editor of the ’Bukharian Times’ Newspaper Raphael Nektalov.
The next morning, the delegation from the World Congress of Bukharian Jews traveled to Samarkand by airplane.