India is the only country in the world where there has never been an indigenous anti-Semitism. Jews have flourished in India perhaps for 2,000 years, although only around 6,000 remain today.Indian Jews have been Prime Ministers to the Maharajas, the tutor to the Crown Prince of the Mughals, fabulously wealthy industrialists, international spice merchants, modern India's greatest war hero, film moguls and movie stars, celebrated poets, playwrights, Kabbalists and mystics, an environmentalist zookeeper, medical researchers, a concert violinist and the Court Jeweler to the Nawab of Oudh. Indian Judaism developed creatively. Indian Jews have been learned and pious, leaving a body of religious poetry, folk songs, legal and mystical treatises, and some of the most striking synagogues in the world.There have been three major Jewish communities in India.The Bene Israel of Bombay and the Konkan Coast were "lost" Jews who were recognized as Jews by either the 12th century David Rahabi, merchant brother of Maimonides, or the 18th century David Ezekiel Rahabi of Cochin's preeminent merchant house (according to Bene Israel and Cochini traditions, respectively). Their "religious evolution," from an anonymous group of rural oil-pressers into an accepted group in world Jewry, is miraculous and inspiring.
They have been prominent in the arts, professions and government service not only in Bombay, where the great majority live, but throughout India. They built synagogues in Ahmedabad, Pune and Delhi, too - all of which we'll visit.The Cochin Jews date themselves from the destruction of the Temple in 72 CE. From the eleventh century, they lived as an autonomous community of agriculturalists, spice merchants, shipbuilders and soldiers. The 1568 Cochin Synagogue is not only the most famous in India, it is the oldest in the British Commonwealth and one of the most beautiful in the world. Nowhere else has Jewish culture flourished so long in freedom than here. Their unique tradition blends indigenous Jewish Malabari with Sephardic, Yemeni and Iraqi elements.The "Baghdadi" Jews were Middle Eastern merchants, many Iraqi but many also Syrian, Turkish and Persian, who came to India about the same time as did the British. They flourished, and left when the British left - for the most part. But they left their marks, in Calcutta and Pune, but most of all in Bombay, where they built schools, hospitals, libraries, monuments, synagogues, docks and factories. They also left a sense of romance. Starting in Bombay, we will visit all major centers of Judaism in India, visit Synagogues and meet Jewish leaders. We will observe their unique customs and traditions and see historic sites important to Judaism.Trip Highlights:Visit commercial and entertainment capital of India: Mumbai.Explore little Goa of Maharashtra- Navgaon with history of the Bene Isreal.One of the tiniest and most ancient of all Jewish communities in the Diaspora is the Cochinim or the Cochin Jews.Witness stylized classical Indian dance-drama: Kathakali noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music.The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. Paradesi Synagogue and Jew Street in Kochi, Kerala, are two prominent sites which reflect the legacy of a once-thriving Jewish community in India.The House which had been a host to Presidents, Prime Ministers, Viceroys, Ambassadors and prominent dignitaries in Fort Kochi: Koder House the only restaurant in India to serve Jewish food.Former capital of India; Kolkata is known for its literary, artistic, and revolutionary heritage.Keeper and a Muslim guard for Jewish Synagogue that is only in India will you witness such a level of spiritual neighborliness between two religions.The political administration of National Capital: Delhi.Rickshaw ride to give street-level view of Old DelhiMeeting with Honorary Secretary of Judah Hyam Synagogue of Delhi.One state with three UNESCO World Heritage: Taj Mahal, Agra Red Fort & Fatehpur Sikri.Jaipur, pink city, capital city of state Rajasthan, and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis but yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller. The traditional royal ride of Jaipur. A 25-30 minute relaxing ride to the top of the hill and to the Amber Palace.