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Abayev wants to get married, but first he must find a Bukharian Jewish woman who meets his parents’ approval.

He will not have premarital sex and will live with a woman only after marriage.

10 (JTA) — David Abayev is a successful Manhattan accountant.

He attended American schools, wears hip professional clothes, sips coffee at Starbucks, and speaks perfect English, with little indication that until 1991, he lived in Uzbekistan.

One Friday night at the home of Larissa Mullodzhanova, 20, Shabbat candles were lit and the table was set.

A home-cooked feast with Bachsh and Oshi Piyozi brought smells of Uzbekistan into the Queens apartment.

“When a child becomes a teen, he asks the question, ‘What does it mean to be a Bukharian Jew?

Pinkasov estimates 70 percent of young Bukharian Jews attend synagogue on High Holidays.

In Uzbekistan, the families observed Jewish holidays. and attended Jewish day schools that they learned the laws and reasons behind the traditions and started keeping them strictly.

Mullodzhanova’s brother-in-law, Boris Abramov, 24, grew up hearing stories of his grandfather, who spent 25 years in Soviet jails for selling kosher meat. “Our generation is more religious than our parents,'” Abramov said.

Abayev is one of 40,000 to 50,000 Bukharian Jews in Queens — some are scattered in other cities across North America — who struggle to maintain their identity while confronting the economic and cultural pressures of the United States.

The struggle is most apparent among young Bukharian Jews, most of whom left Uzbekistan in Central Asia after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and are now trying to define their identity away from the surroundings that shaped their heritage and traditions.

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“As soon as I’m making enough money so I don’t have to work Saturdays, I’ll keep Shabbat the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.

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