As American Jewish institutions continue to grapple with “Jewish continuity,” they may want to look to Jewish communities elsewhere that have employed successful models.
In India we find two such models: the learned Jews of Kochi (Cochin) and the vibrant community known as the Bene Israel in Mumbai (Bombay) and surrounding areas. These two distinct communities lived in India for centuries, if not millennia, interacting harmoniously with their Hindu, Muslim and Christian neighbors, contributing to their host societies as well as to Jewish literature and customs, all the while maintaining their identities as Jews.
This talk will analyze the mechanisms each employed so successfully for so long.
According to a recent Pew study, a quarter of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” What do they mean? Can spirituality be separated from religion?
This talk will demonstrate that the two can be distinguished, for psychological, historical, and neuroscientific reasons. After suggesting a definition of spirituality, the concept of “applied” or “secular” spirituality will be employed to analyze its interactions, with medicine and heath care, entrepreneurship, education, and warriorship
Today we see many “emerging Jewish communities” or “Judaizing movement” around the globe.
Two hundred years ago, the Bene Israel of Maharashtra state in India were such a movement. Having forgotten Hebrew and most Jewish practices, they nevertheless were recognized as Jews by Jewish and Christian visitors.
This talk explores how this anonymous caste-group gradually came to be accepted by world Jewry.
Why do two cultures, with such deep affinities and deep fraternal bonds, become diplomatic foes? Why do Indian politicians simultaneously profess admiration and understanding of Jewish civilization, and at the same time demonize Israel so brazenly? It was India that co-sponsored the infamous 1975 United Nations declaration identifying Zionism as a “form of racism.”
Yet it was this same India that led the move to rescind this calumny, and it is this same India with which Israel has such important commercial and security links today. In this lecture, the tumultuous, torturous, and ultimately triumphant relationship between two of Asia’s leading democracies is traced.
As the spiritual and temporal leader of a people who were defeated by Communist China nearly 60 years ago, the Dalai Lama wanted to learn the “Jewish Secret” for surviving in exile. After all, he reasoned, the Jews had the expertise: 1,900 years of living in the Diaspora, all the while preserving their distinct religion. Surely the Tibetan people could benefit from Jewish experience, he reasoned.
Hear a first-hand account of this remarkable dialogue, one that spurred both Tibetans and Jews to understand not only one another, but themselves as well.
The tiny, far-flung Jewish community in Kochi, South India, not only survived for at least 1,000 – possibly 2,000 – years, but also flourished. They were learned, pious Jews. They were successful in the spice trade and thrived as merchants, artisans, and in the local military and politics.
How did they do it? How did they establish and maintain an identity that wedded their Jewishness with their Indianness?
While this talk focuses on the Kochi Jews, it is also about Jews everywhere. In fact, it is a prescription for acculturation without assimilation.