'Umblical cord': In Israel, Jaishankar hails contribution of Indian Jewish community
External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Sunday interacted with the Indian Jewish community in Israel where he hailed the huge impact it has made in Israel. Jaishankar said that the community has been, in many ways, "an umbilical cord" that has nourished the ties between India and Israel.
The foreign minister said that the Indian Jewish community carried some flavours of India with it to Israel which they have retained, or assimilated in some form. "I am told, for example, that the distinctive Malida thali made by the Bene Israelis - and Malida is now officially incorporated in the local calendar here. Likewise, the influence of the mangalsutra and the mehendi among Bene Israelis, the practice of baat pukka for formalizing marriages among Baghdadi Jews, and symbolic adorning of the Torah arks with jasmine garlands and the use of manara by the Cochini Jews," said Jaishankar.
"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," he added.
Talking about the festivals, Jaishankar said Onam, Holi and Diwali are celebrated in Israel along with Purim and Hanukkah.
Citing ancient connections between the two civilizations - both cultural and religious, Jaishankar applauded the contribution of Indian Jews in the nation building process of India, describing them as "one of us".
"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," said Jaishankar.
Jaishankar also highlighted the community's contributions in enriching India's literature and arts with the likes of Nissim Ezekiel who was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi award.
Later, he posted about the interaction on Twitter and said he is confident that the Indian Jewish community will bring the two countries closer.
"Very pleased to meet the Indian Jewish community in Israel. Valued their manifold contribution to India-Israel ties. Confident that they will bring us even closer together in the coming years," said Jaishankar.
Jaishankar started his three-day visit to Israel on Sunday during which he will meet President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and foreign minister Yair Lapid.
The basic purpose of the visit is to engage the new coalition government and provide a fresh impetus to bilateral ties with Tel Aviv. India has very close security relationship with Israel that ranges from top-of-the-line drones, loitering ammunition, radars, state-of-the-art missiles and border sensors.
Both the countries elevated bilateral relations to a strategic partnership during the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017.