The road towards a renewed Jewish community - Jewish in India

On a sunny and humid day in December 2013, a group of Jewish young adults from San Diego and Mumbai traveled on a full size bus through the windy and narrow roads of Cochin, located in the state of Kerala. It was the second and last day we would spend together and we all wanted to make the best of it by connecting with each other.

On the trip between visiting two synagogues, I randomly sat with Shimon, a 24 year old Indian engineer from Mumbai. I could tell Shimon was fun, open, and friendly. Shimon and I embarked on the "getting to know each other" road by asking the usual questions. I learned about Shimon's career, family, and friends. He learned about mine. As we conversed, we stumbled upon one thing that we are both passionate about: Israeli dancing. We started to name tunes we knew and to my surprise he had a playlist on his phone. We played the songs and compared notes on which choreographies we both knew. The bus was moving fast and the roads kept getting windier and more difficult to navigate. Yet, that did not stop Leya, a Cochini Jew and Kimberly, a JDC Jewish Service Corps volunteer from Orange County from showing us some moves to the Israeli and Indian tunes at the front of the bus.  

During our time together, we learned that Mumbai and San Diego Jewish young adults share similar challenges. In Mumbai (as in other cities in India), the Jewish community is rapidly dwindling. Many moved to Israel while others have assimilated. Nevertheless, JDC is providing an independent and secular space in Mumbai (Evelyn Peters Jewish Community Center) as well as staff support to implement a leadership development program for young adults: Young Jewish Pioneers (YJP). YJP is led by Salome Abraham, a vibrant, smart, and passionate young woman who is the driving force behind it.  

Back in San Diego, our Jewish community is also threatened by assimilation. Yet, JDC Entwine is revitalizing the San Diego Jewish young adult scene by providing us with opportunities to explore Jewish communities around the world. As we learn and explore, we find ourselves reflected in them, strengthening our sense of Jewish global responsibility. 

By the end of a full and meaningful day in which each and everyone one of us made a conscious effort to connect with one another, we gathered at the hotel multipurpose room. Shimon connected his phone to the speakers and played Israeli and Indian songs. Leya, Shimon, Kimmy, and Salome showed us different choreographies. Some, more than others, graciously succumbed to the music and effortlessly connected with each other by dancing and laughing.

Both Mumbai and San Diego Jewish young adults face narrow destinies, but we've learned that we have each other and JDC to help us navigate the windy roads. 

Written By

October 29, 2014 at 12:44 AM



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