Delhi’s Jewish community ready to reform

Delhi’s Jewish community is bracing for landmark reforms to save itself from a possible extinction.

Now the community plans to give women a larger role in religious functions.

Judah Hyam – Delhi’s only synagogue – has just turned 50. History seeped in its very bones.

“Much of the relationship between the Indian government and Israeli government prior to the establishment of diplomatic relation was done through the syanagogue which unofficially acted as the embassy of Israel,” said Nissim Moses, President, Liaison Affairs.

Small group

Today, the synagogue has just 25 worshippers – descendants of the Bene-Israel tribe that arrived in Mumbai 2000 years ago.

Delhi’s Jewish community may be a small one, but it says that makes it easier to modernize traditions like giving women a larger role in religious rituals.

“If I want Judaism to survive in India, I must shed all the religious beliefs which are not practical in today’s world. So women are included in the mineyan, a congregation of 10 righteous men that is required to read torah,” said Ezekiel I Malekar, Rabbi.

“My daughter was the first one to step on the platform, where sacred text was read and after that there have been many girls participating,” said Sharon Lowen, community member.

As the community gets ready to celebrate Rosh-Ha- Shannah – the Jewish New Year – it reveals its next goal, which is to have a woman serve as the next Rabbi of the synagogue.

They expect a tough fight, but the group says it sticks together and that’s half the battle won.

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