KOCHI: “The Hindu society of India has been a home to all the persecuted minorities of the world, be it the Jews, Parsees, Tibetans, among others,” said author and former Member of Parliament Tarun Vijay. He was speaking while highlighting the shared history of Indian and Israelites at the ‘Jews of India’ conference organised by Sri Vishnu Mohan Foundation and Indian Council for Philosophical Research (ICPR) on Wednesday. The foundation was involved in the renovation of the Kadavumbhagam Synagogue in Kochi. Tarun said India is the only place where the Jews fleeing persecution were welcomed with open arms and co-existed with the local communities for centuries. “The engagement between the two communities goes back 2,000 years with Kochi being the centre where Chera King Bhaskara Ravi Varma gave Jews a place of honour next to his place and temple.”
When Jews were tortured in 86 countries around the world, in Kerala, there was not even a single instance of violence reported in recorded history,” said Tarun. He added the reception they enjoyed was so warm making them term India their motherland and Israel being referred to as the blessed land.
Similarly, Israel’s contributions to making India a force to reckon with in the sub-continent was acknowledged at the event.
“The strategic partnership in fields of defence cooperations, technology and agriculture has helped India become a force to reckon,” said S R Bhatt, chairman, ICPR. “In the cultural sphere, the community has produced finest authors like Nissim Ezekiel, cinematographers and intellectuals who have contributed to the advancement of the Indian society,” said Tarun.
The seminar was part of a series aiming at emphasising the contribution of ethnic minorities in the cultural development of India.A conference highlighting the relevance of the Parsee community in the country’s history will be held in Mumbai next month. “In the times of rising intolerance across the world, our rich history of co-existence should hold a beacon to fellow citizens to become more open-minded,” said Tarun.
Jewish history is the source of much debate as few scholars claim Jews arrived in India at the time of Biblical King Solomon (970-930 BC) to trade in gold, ivory, spices and peacock feathers. Second version points at Jews arriving in Cranganore, 25 miles north of Kochi, around 70 BC, after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.