Sunday, June 1, 2008

Indian economy bringing Jews back to India

I’ve always thought that the Indian Jewish community was very interesting. I have heard that they and the Chinese are the only two countries who never persecuted their Jews (I have no idea if this is true). So, I have thought it a shame that there were so few Jews remaining there (Actually, I tend to have that feeling about any shrinking Jewish community -IMO a wide variety of community minhagim are to been encouraged, the more the merrier). But it seems that in India, this trend may reverse itself.

Seeing a bright future in their native land, young Indian Jews increasingly are remaining in India, which has the world’s fastest growing major economy after China. India’s 9 percent growth rate in 2007 was four times that of the United States and nearly twice that of Israel.

…Most young Jews are educated in Indian schools where English is the language of instruction and are highly proficient in English and technology. They see their country as a place of opportunity, especially in high-tech jobs and “call centers which pay extremely well,” according to Antony Korenstein, country director of the JDC in India.

…Jews live in the cities where incomes are rising fast to catch up with international standards and reflect a higher standard of living.

With the call centers providing jobs for young adult Jews at night — it’s daytime in the United States — synagogue leaders say it is difficult to attract them to activities. They sleep during the day and are working at night.

…Jews have been a part of the Indian mosaic for more than two millennia. This “land of the Ganges” was known to the Jews of antiquity as well as to those of the Middle Ages. The Talmud contains several references to India.

… India boasts the largest number of indigenous Jews of any country east of Iran.

Not only are young Jews staying in India, a few Jewish families have returned from Israel.

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