B'nei Menashe caught in cross-fire
More than 150 breadwinners of the B’nei Menashe Jewish families were caught in the recent crossfire of violence in Manipur, India.
According to reports, one B’nei Menashe, a father of four, was killed and four more people were injured as a result of the shooting. Ten others are missing after fleeing the violence.
We extend our deepest concern to the B’nei Menashe community at this heart-breaking turn of events in India, a country that is known for its tolerance and inclusivity of the Jewish communities of India. We appeal to IJAANZ members, and to the Australian and international Jewish communities to support our Jewish brethren. Donations to support the families can be made via this link (in Hebrew).
Kenesseth Eliyahoo wins UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award of Merit
The historic Kenesseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in Mumbai was awarded UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Award of Merit in December 2022.
First built in 1884, Kenesseth Eliyahoo has been a sacred gathering place and the pride of the Indian Jewish Community for generations. In 2010, the World Monument Fund, which has helped preserve sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, drew up a plan to restore the synagogue. In 2017, the JSW Foundation stepped in to fund the project, seeing its value not just to the Jewish community but to all Indians.
Sangita Jindal, Chairperson of the Jindal South-West Foundation (JSW) and visionary, saw a need to aid the Jewish community and was compelled to help. “I am a Hindu, but…I will try and help people in my city. It was a dire need. They did not have the facility to do it on their own because they have a very small community….they are our neighbours.” The project completed in two years under the direction of architect Abha Lambah.
Today, Kenesseth Eliyahoo once again as it boasts the most extensive stained glass windows in India, thanks to artist Swati Chandgadkar.
The Jews of India celebrated in Australia’s capital
IJAANZ, the Australian Jewish Historical Society, and the ACT Jewish Community celebrated the Jews of India with a talk and Exhibition on the afternoon of 7 May, 2023. The event was attended by His Excellency High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra, High Commissioner of India, Her Excellency Mrs. Vohra, and more than 50 ACTJC congregants and friends.
In her talk, “Not a People Apart – The Jews of India”, IJAANZ Sydney President Angelica Jacob told the audience the relationship between Jews and India dates back to Biblical times.
The audience heard of the significant contributions the Jews of India made to Indian life in art, literature, science, engineering, the armed forces and Government services. Remarkably, Hebrew was added as a second language in 1870 for the national matriculation examinations and higher courses – India was the only country in the world to do so.
The event was enhanced by the ‘Journeys in Watercolours – The Synagogues of India’ Exhibition of artworks which line the ACT Centre’s curved gallery wall.
The event concluded with an afternoon tea of delicious Indian treats generously prepared by the Joshua family. The Exhibition can be viewed at the ACTJC until 31 December, 2023.
Constituted in 1951, the ACTJC welcomes all Jewish people to Canberra. It offers a diverse range of religious, educational, cultural and social activities. The community currently has around 200 membership units and is home to Orthodox and Progressive congregations.
Rabbi recites Torah at new Parliament
CJHC-IJHC celebrate major milestone
The Cochin Jewish Heritage Center and the Indian Jewish Heritage Center celebrated a major milestone with the ceremonial Laying of the Foundation Stone for the Auditorium on Thursday 8 June at 17:00 IST at Moshav Nevatim.
This takes CJHC-IJHC closer to its goal to set up and raise funds for the Heritage and Cultural Center of the Jews of India.
The situation in the south is more challenging than other parts of the country. “The people of the south deserve a healthy and happy lifestyle. Their children and families deserve a better standard of living. We need to confront the root of the financial problems that are faced by the disadvantaged people, and give them tools to support and meet the financial needs of their households,” CJHC-IJHC said.
Indian Jew represents Israel to the UN
“Growing up in India, I never imagined that I would one day represent Israel in the United States. I take real pride in being Indian, but I have always taken real pride in being Jewish too. Coming to Israel was like finding a new home..I am so proud to be an Israeli citizen.”
The Art of Siona Benjamin
It has been said artistic diversity transcends borders and builds bridges and Siona Benjamin’s art does just that, exquisitely. Siona’s prolific portfolio intersects contemporary themes through a Jewish lens and asserts feminist perspectives.
Curators and organisers alike say Siona’s Exhibitions “created understanding across difference, facilitated vital conversations with students and produced new insights, research, experiences, and questions”. (Samantha Basskind, 2022).
Siona Benjamin, who is of Indian Jewish heritage now living in the US, is inspired by the style of Indian/Persian miniature paintings, Sephardic icons, the socio-political climate of today and in exploring the cultural boundary zones of her immigrant self.
Siona’s impressive portfolio and myriad achievements include two Fulbright Fellowships to India and to Israel. She has held residencies, solo and group exhibitions, including “Beyond Borders: The Art of Siona Benjamin” in numerous museums around the world including the US, India, and Israel.
B’nei Menashe culture celebrated
The culture and traditions of the B’nei Menashe was celebrated at the Nof Hagalil community centre in cooperation with the Indian Jewish Heritage Center and Shavei Israel.
The beautiful photos by Dorit Lombrusco, as well as explanations of the B’nei Menashe history and culture, were impressive and very well received.