Cutting hair was a popular Jewish profession in Uzbekistan when Daniel Fuzaylov grew up near Tashkent, capital of the then-Soviet republic, nearly three decades ago. His father, Rafael, was a barber. His grandfather, too.
So Fuzaylov, who came to the United States with his family in 1988, became a barber, learning from his father. They are among the latest émigré groups to pass a trade among themselves, like Korean groceries, Chinese dry cleaners and Greek diners.
Father and son opened Rafael’s Barber Shop in the Plainview Shopping Center, on Long Island, 11 years ago. A few years later Fuzaylov’s sister, Marina, joined the staff.
Today, the business has eight barbers on staff — all fellow Bukharian Jews, as Jews from Uzbekistan are known — and a dozen chairs, eight for adults, four for children. Not all the barbers are related to the owners, but “they have become like relative,” Fuzaylov says.
The barbers are, from left, Sergey Kayumov, Marina Fuzaylov, Daniel Fuzaylov, Arthur Rubinov, Eli Bakaev, Roman Kayumov and Aron Bakaev. Raphael Fuzaylov wasn’t in the day the photograph was taken.
Twelve chairs, no waiting?
For some customers, those waiting for a particular barber, there’s sometimes a short wait, Fuzaylov says.
The customers are “99 percent” Americans. Many are Muslims, continuing the good relations the two groups enjoyed back in Uzbekistan, Fuzaylov says.
He and his father hope to open more shops on Long Island. “We’re looking to grow,” Fuzaylov says. Most likely, they’ll hire more barbers who come from Uzbekistan. Which should not be hard, with Bukharian barbers now as common as Italian barbers were a few generations ago. “All the barbers,” Fuzaylov says, says with a bit of hyperbolic pride, “are Bukharians.”