Interviewing Emanuil Kalendarev: Representing A Young Generation Of Community Activism

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

By Adam Suionov

We need to look out for each other. Today’s climate towards the Jewish people underlines the reality that we have only ourselves and our Faith in G-d. Being a nation of many parts, we have so many issues which require unity; our collective concerns serve to unite us. Sometimes, positive change occurs when organizations unite and leaders take charge. Other times, great benefit comes from a quiet place. The Jewish Sages teach that a person should always strive to behave in a way that provides honorably and benefits those around him as well. It therefore brings me great pleasure to interview Mr. Emanuil Kalendarev, the founder of Rego Park Senior’s Club.

Please tell us about your background. Where did you grow up, where is your family from, where do you currently live?

I was born on July 31st, 1987, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. At the time, Dushanbe was a part of the USSR. When I was five years old, my family immigrated to the USA with many other families looking for better opportunity and a brighter future. I grew up in Jamaica and Rego Park, Queens.

I spent a lot of my free time volunteering in social projects and synagogues. This gave me the opportunity to meet many people and also honed my ability to help others with their particular issues or generally, as a peer-leader.

The experience I gained empowered me to begin my first business at the age of 20. I began with a barbershop; this opened up a new vista for me which occupied my time ever since. Today I am involved with my state-of-the-art Adult Day Care Center.

How did you transition into your Adult Day Care Service?

The idea came as I ran my barbershop.  Many people from all walks of life entered my shop, and I became acutely aware many of the elderly were underserved and in desperate need of social, physical and mental health help.

After researching the best way to go about it, I decided this is something I can do for myself and for the community. In 2016, I opened the doors to my center in Rego Park, Queens.

The underling goal is to provide the socialization, meals and security necessary for a healthy and happy living. If you pay attention, many of the community elders are noticeably lacking these ingredients for a balanced life.

As time progressed, I also realized that quite a few seniors only had a good meal on the days they attended the center. I decided to do something about this and established a local food pantry. The net result of the past two years was specialized care for 300 seniors. This number is steadily growing.

Please tell our readers a little about your plans for the future. What do you see for yourself in the future?

I am part of Community Board #6 of Rego Park and a member of its social/aging services, transportation, planning and zoning committees. This gives me an ear in the issues which I care about, and allows me to always keep up with the needs of our elderly population.

I also recently launched a magazine geared to a lot of these issues called “Dolgoletie (Longevity)” magazine from 2019.

I have recently involved myself in community projects with the Alliance of Bukharian Americans; they are looking into long-term political structuring to benefit and empower the community as a whole.

I am also a member of the Congress of Bukharian Jews of the USA and Canada, which is familiar with issues and interests since our community’s emigration to America. I also see the importance in the various cultural events held in the Bukharian Jewish community of New York—the International Music Festival Shashmaqam Forever, Women of the Year, etc.; I make an effort to sponsor them.