Sunday, June 25, 2017

'Minority status' has not benefited Indian Jews

A year after India passed a law giving minorities enhanced status, nothing much has changed for the 5,000 Jews of India. The Hindustan Times reports: 
Young Jews visiting Israel from India do a Bollywood flashdance in Jerusalem

Exactly a year ago on June 24 , the Jews of Maharashtra embraced the minority status hoping to find wider recognition in the society with better opportunities. While the provision has successfully made its way to the official records, not much has changed in the lives of the people from the quaint community.
As per the census of 2011, there are 4,650 Indian Jews in India with Maharashtra still holding 53% of it with 2,466 Jews. In Pune, which houses two prominent synagogues (building where Jews meet for religious worship), the Ohel David Synagogue and the Succath Shelomo Synagogue, their numbers dwindle to less than 200.

Dr Irene Judah, who has recently released her book - 'Evolution of the Bene Israels and their Synagogues in the Konkan' - expressed, “A minority status like this affects every section of the community from the most basic level, recognition of our religious holidays being one of them. The fact that we don’t even get optional leaves on the days of our religious festivals is not very pleasing. We have to attend them by using casual leaves, which we could have preserved and used in case of an urgency. This, especially, when other religions in the country are not devoid of that privilege is disheartening.” 

She further adds how the thought of this provision in India, is not a new concept, and existed some decades ago, rather successfully. “It’s surprising now because in the olden days till the 60s almost, optional holidays on Jewish festivals were given. I don’t know why it all stopped,” Irene said.

While it has been a year since Maharashtra bestowed this status to the Jew community, West Bengal with only a Jewish population of 43, had presented the minority status to them almost a decade ago.

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