Jaishankar urges Indian Jewish community, Indologists to document the heritage of community

Jaishankar urges Indian Jewish community, Indologists to document the heritage of community

Jerusalem/New Delhi, Oct 18 (UNI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar urged the Indian Jewish community in Israel and the Indologists to better document the heritage and history of the community and the societal cross flows.

In a meeting with the Indian Jewish community here on Sunday, Jaishankar said there is an urgent need to tap the community and the Indologists in order to preserve the memory and experiences of the community elders and understand the aspirations of the younger generation of the community and make them a part of the living bridge between the two countries.

“How do we enhance the reach of the work being done by the Indologists both within the community and outside? We will be happy to hear from you and would support your endeavours in this direction,” he said, adding that the Indian Embassy has already offered to devote a corner in its Cultural Center to house the work being done by the community so that it is available and accessible in one place.

Jaishankar, who is here on a five-day official visit, said that four years ago he had accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his historic visit to Israel.

“And at that time, he said that “हमारा संबंध परंपरा, संस्कृति और एक दूसरे के प्रति भरोसे और मित्रता का है।” that is, “We are joined by traditions, culture, mutual trust and friendship.” Indeed, our bilateral relations have been in a qualitatively different trajectory in the last few years.

“Our two countries share values of democracy and pluralism. We also share some of our guiding civilizational philosophies: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in India, or the world is one family, and Tikun Olam in Israel, or heal the world. We also share similar challenges to our society from radicalism and terrorism, apart from many other emerging developments on the geopolitical landscape.

“The real thrust, however, is to expand the innovation and trade partnership between our two knowledge economies. For example, while we collaborated to tackle Covid-19, can we take that to the next level? How should we further augment the contact and collaboration between scientists, students and start-ups? ,” he said, adding that he will be discussing these issues, and others, in his meetings here during the visit.

“Next year marks the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel. India is celebrating the 75th year of our own independence. In 2023, Israel too would be celebrating the 75th year of its independence. These occasions are significant milestones to start new voyages and to cover new horizons,” he added.

Earlier in the speech, talking about the connection with Israel, he said India’s connections with Jerusalem goes back 800 years in time.

“One of our revered Sufi saints, Baba Farid, meditated in a cave inside the city walls in Jerusalem. And this place later has become a shrine and a pilgrim lodge for travelers from India. Today, this Indian Hospice symbolizes India’s presence in the Old City. Further, hundreds of Indian soldiers fought in this land during the First World War, and many of them actually made the supreme sacrifice. The tale of the valiant cavalry charge by Indian soldiers that liberated the city of Haifa on September 23, 1918 is of course very well known.

“What is less well known are the sacrifices made by other soldiers in other parts of the land. Or how some of these soldiers actually ensured the safety of the spiritual leader of the Baha’i Faith in Israel at this time. In modern post-Independence times, there are also the relatively less known aspects of how major socialist political leaders and streams in India felt a kinship with the kibbutz movement (worker-controlled, agricultural production cooperative movement) in Israel.

“And, in a quest to build on the Gandhian concept of ashram or village as a self-sustaining unit of development. Jayaprakash Narayan, one of our most prominent political leaders and theorists associated with our Independence struggle, visited Israel in 1958, and many followers of Vinoba Bhave, another towering leader of our independence movement, visited Israel in 1960 to understand the kibbutz movement here. I will have the honour of visiting some of these sites hopefully later in this visit,” he added.

He also noted the contributions of noted Indian Jewish community members to India and to Israel, and how the members of the community have “carried some flavours of India with it here, but they have retained, or assimilated in some form, Indian traditions that in many ways now have become yours”.

“You also adopted that very Indian tradition of removing shoes before entering the synagogue. And you all still remember our way of life, our languages, our festivals, and, I am told about the Maiboli journal in Marathi. And I recently saw pictures of Onam being celebrated with a saadya meal, not to forget the flower rangoli! It’s not just Onam, Holi is celebrated here, also Purim, Diwali, Hanukkah. And, as I said, the community is really today an organic bond between our two peoples. It is, therefore, not surprising that you people say, “Israel is my fatherland and India is my motherland”,” he said.


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