Jerusalem: Despite becoming Israelis, Jews from India have not forgotten their country of origin, and amid a growing sense of engagement, concluded a gathering with a pledge to strengthen political and cultural ties between the two nations.
The elaborate ‘Hoduyada’ (literally the gathering of the Indians), capped by a three-day celebrations recently in the southern coastal city of Eilat, drew more than four thousand people, transforming a part of the beach into ‘mini-Chaupati of Mumbai’. Indian songs reverberated the air with several cultural programmes, including performances by well known singer Amit Kumar and other artists like Junior Govinda, Sumit Kumar and a Meenakshi look-alike, enthralling the unprecedented crowd in this annual affair.
Indian snacks were also available all around.
Addressing the community, India’s Ambassador in Israel, Arun Kumar Singh said, "You are a very important link between India and Israel. While contributing and integrating with the Israeli society you have continued to maintain the Indian tradition. We have always taken pride in our Indian origin. We never faced any discrimination, the sort of anti-semitism in Europe, during our days of exile and have brought the message of peaceful co-existence that can be of immense help in resolving conflict surrounding this region," Noah Massil, President of the Central Organisation of Indian Jews (COIJ) said.
Commenting on the growing ties, Massil said the Indian Prime Minister should pay a reciprocatory visit to further strengthen the strategic relationship.
A series of events organised by the Indian mission here, prior to the departure of a group for the Pravasi Diwas and a two-week long film festival, including some new Bollywood blockbusters, has led to a sense of intensifying engagement among Indians in Israel to their country of origin.
"Indianness gives us a unique identity. Amid growing acceptance of our culture in Israel it gives us a great sense of pride in participating in cultural activities when others in this country are also flocking to be a part of it", said Yona Chandgaonkar, explaining the growing enthusiasm among youngsters in the community towards Indian cultural programmes.
There are 70,000 Jews of Indian origin living in Israel and about 30,000 Israeli youngsters travel to India every year, most of them immediately after their compulsory army service.
25th JAN 08:33 hrs IST