Sunday, March 12, 2006

Use It or Lose It

I've had these links sitting on my computer for awhile, and kept planning on writing an insightful and fascinating blog post about them. Alas, that never materialized. So now, I just want to get them down so I don't lose them forever. They're reviews of two books on the Jewish community in India. Very interesting.

The first is of the book "Who Are The Jews of India", and the second is of "Burnt Bread and Chutney: Growing Up Between Cultures--A Memoir of an Indian Jewish Girl". The former got a great review, the latter got a more lukewarm reception. But in general, the topic is one I find fascinating.

Particularly interesting was the relative lack of anti-Semitism against Jews in India (compared to the murderous violence they faced in Europe and the Middle East). Several hypothesis have been forwarded for this fact--India's polyglot nature being more tolerant of diversity in general, the lack of Abrahamic roots in either Buddhism or Hinduism checking against minor theological disputes turning into holy wars, or more generally the polytheistic nature of Hinduism allowing for other Gods to co-exist in peace. Irregardless, the Jewish community in India is a relatively happy story for our people, and proof positive that being in the diaspora does not have to mean either assimilation or persecution.

I'll admit I know very little about the Indian Jewish community. I did know it existed, and I knew that it's presence had heavily contributed to the thawing of India/Israeli relations after the cold war, as well as the burgeoning tourism industry in India catering to Israeli civilians. If I get time, I'd love to pick these two books up.


Ruchira Paul said...

I am very pleased you enjoyed the book review.(I wish you had left a comment). I very much enjoyed writing it. Nathan Katz's book is indeed worth reading if this bit of Jewish history interests you.

The current relation between India and Israel is interesting too if you read the last paragraph of my commentary. In 2003, when Sharon visited New Delhi (the first visit by an Israeli head of state), the Indian govt. presented him with the original land grant that was awarded to the Cochin Jews by the local Maharajah.

Ruchira Paul said...

Just a trivial point. Tourism industry in India is not exactly "burgeoning" - it has been around for a long time. Israelis partaking of it is relatively new.

David Schraub said...

that's what i meant. The tourist industry catering to Israeli civilians is what's burgeoning.