More and more Jewish youths plan to go back to Israel

There is a sense of cultural alienation among Indian diaspora who make it back to Israel’

Ahmedabad, June 24: Loshana havah Yerusalim (Next year in Jerusalem) — that is how Benson Agarwarkar, head of department of English, H K Arts College, greets community elder Solomon Enoch Samuel, in the only synagogue in Ahmedabad, today.

“The aspiration to make it back to the promised land, Israel is so deeply entrenched our social psyche, that it has become our traditional greeting,” explains Benson.

With a population of little over 200, the Jews in Gujarat (Bene-Israel group) are a microscopic but very close knit community. “We have about 55 Jew families in Ahmedabad and two each in Vadodara, Surendranagar and Rajkot. We have only one Synagogue for the entire community in Ahmedabad,” Benson says. More and more youth are now looking forward to making Aliyah, or the journey back to Israel, he says. For Ellana Shimshon and her sister Adina David Pezarkar, who had made Aliyah seven years back — the journey was not a quest of a better life, but religious gratification. Today, both sisters are proud of their Indian origin and also of the decision to go back to Israel. Ellana informed Newsline from Israel that many Jew youths from the city have settled in Israel in the last 10 years.

“I am afraid to lose my Jewish identity here as the population of the community is steadily dwindling,” says Liora Rubina (25), an educationist, who is all set to go to Israel in next couple of months.

“It gets difficult to get a white collar job for the educated, unless one has good command over Hebrew language,” says Benson, adding that some people, who had shifted at an advanced age to Israel, had found it difficult to adjust there culturally and had come back to India. “There is a sense of cultural alienation among the Indian diaspora, who make it back to Israel,” he adds. Similar sentiments are echoed by Adina David. In an email to this reporter, Adina confesses that in spite of making Aliyah seven years back, she still considers herself as an Indian and is proud of her cultural heritage. She also writes that “Ahmedabadi Jews are more settled in Ahmedabad than in Israel,” and “we do miss India many times, when it comes to food and culture”.

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