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Indian Jews

Reader comment on item: Musharraf's Historic Speech

Submitted by Swahili Dinaz (India), Sep 23, 2005 at 03:52

Nobody can question India's long-standing record on Jews settled there for centuries, esp. the 2000-year old Bene Israelis. There has not been a single conflict noted between the gentle Jews and Hindus of India, perfectly assimilated to each other.

Jews settled in Konkan on the west coast of India speak Marathi as well as Hebrew, and bear Marathi last names, like Aptekar, along with their traditional names like Reuben and Jhirad. Dr. Erusha Jhirad of Mumbai was among the first woman gynecologists in British India at the turn of the 20th century, a gentle and much-loved doctor and social worker. There have been intercaste marriages between Jews and Hindus, like the well-known Bhendes, and neither the couples nor their children have suffered as a consequence. To the contrary, they are celebrated for their progressive and egalitarian outlook. Sir Victor Sassoon and David Sassoon were well-known Jewish Indian industrialists and philanthropists in Mumbai, with scores of cherished heritage institutions standing in their name to this day.

There are many similar Jewish communities that have lived in harmony and peace in different parts of India. Jewish settlers from northeast India were recently evicted from Gaza and West Bank in Israel. No Jewish community in India has ever suffered that fate! Scores of synagogues dot the Mumbai and Konkan landscape, and Indian Rabbis have often made public declarations to the effect that India is the only country on earth where the Jewish communities did not face a single instance of religious or racist harrassment. This record is the pride of Indians and no amount of motivated slander from the evil-minded will ever change the fact.

On the other hand, barbaric Muslim invaders wiped out the pacifist Buddhists and their settlements from across the length and breadth of India in the medieval days, while Hindu warriors withstood their atrocities and nurtured the seed of universal tolerance that is at the heart of Hinduism, which gave birth to so many genuine faiths including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and so on. It was only after witnessing the 9/11 burning in modern times, could we understand the old descriptions of how smoke continued to rise from the rubble for six months after the burning of the Buddhist libraries at Nalanda and Takshashila in ancient India!
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