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Defying terror, Jewish group in India to bond with bretheren

Defying terror, Jewish group in India to bond with bretheren

Author: Mouparna Bandyopadhyay
Publication: Expressindia.com
Date: February 9, 2009
URL: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/defying-terror-jewish-group-in-india-to-bond-with-bretheren/421003/

Terror strikes at the heart but cannot quite kill the spirit. This is exactly what a group of Jewish tourists from the US are out to prove.

Two months after the Mumbai terror attacks, a group of ten are touring various cities in India for over a month to show solidarity with the Indians and the Jewish community settled in Indian cities.

In Kolkata, they found a small dwindling Jewish community of 35 people, three synagogues and a couple of Jewish schools.

Interacting with the community, the group explored possibilities of extending help so the synagogues could be upgraded and better maintained.

"After 9/11, many of our friends from across the globe visited us to show that they were with us in the hour of gloom. Today, it is our turn to come back to India and show that we are not scared to visit our favourite destinations," said Jane Gershon, a member of the group.

A night at the newly-opened Taj Mahal, Mumbai and a quiet dinner at Wasabi, the two sites of the November massacre, was their way of saying that terror attacks can never kill the spirit.

"We had tight security on our floor. We spoke to the Taj staff at length and tried to share their sorrow," said a member.

"There were some of us who cancelled at the last moment as they felt uncomfortable about coming to India after 26/11," said a member of the group. The group had arrived in Delhi on January 14 and went on to visit places like Rishikesh and other destinations in the Garhwal before proceeding to Mumbai and Cochin.

"We visited Jewish families in Mumbai but also visited Sikh Gurdwaras, temples and Christian Churches across India," explains Jane. "It is not about one community but each and every person is affected by terror," she adds.

The group arrived in Kolkata on February 2 and stayed for a day. Between sampling culinary delicacies at the "Nahoums" - the oldest and the only bakery owned by Jews - and Flury's confectionery in the city, they visited three synagogues and a Jewish girls' school located on Park Street. "I am told that 90 per cent of the students are Muslims. That speaks volumes about the spirit of tolerance India has," says Jane. At the school, the children presented a short cultural programme including songs in Hebrew.

The group also met some Jewish families. "India is a lovely place and I want to visit it even more," says Jane. A Bollywood movie buff, she is carrying home the lastest flicks and some old classics including Sholay, Dewar, Bobby, Devdas and Mughal-e-Azam.

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