10 August 2008

Jews in South India - Part 1: Tisha B'Av & Chabad of Bangalore

A good friend wrote me today: "Amazing realization that with you being a physical and mental world away from us, we will still both be observing Tisha B'Av..."

Some background: today is the fast of Tisha B'Av (the 9th of the month of Av), the saddest day of the Hebrew year. Basically the story is that today marks the destruction of both the first and second temples, the 2000 year exile of the Jewish people from the land of Israel, and numerous other tragedies we've suffered. So we fast (no food, no water 25 hours and change), sit on the floor, try not to smile, and generally think sad thoughts. Although usually by mid-afternoon most of us are exhausted and end up sleeping or watching TV.

It's also the only Jewish holiday that will be happening while I'm in India (we came right after the Shavous holiday and will be leaving 2 days before Rosh Hashana - the new year). I figured I'd spend it alone (Linda's away in Jaipur) and read Aicha (the sad book we read on Tisha B'Av), which made me sad. But it turns out ironically that there was something to make me happy - the newly launched Bangalore Chabad - through which now I could share my sadness with other Jews. We had initially searched for Chabad (Chabad is an emissary organization launched many years ago by the Lubavitch sect to provide religious/cultural services to Jews in far flung places spiced with mild internal proselytizing called "kiruv") a couple of months before we came to Bangalore, but no dice. Then a couple of weeks ago in at the Synagogue in Cochin, we met two young Lubavitch men who told us a Chabad Bangalore was fortuitously just starting up!

So I managed to get in touch with them (now they've got a spiffy blog at jewishbangalore.blogspot.com ) and Mendel and Moshe immediately invited me over for a kosher meal that could have come straight from Crown Heights (ah, the oily taste of home - tasty but from a time before people understood why heart disease happens ;-)
I had a great time chatting with them, both New Yorkers - it's so nice to hang out with folks from back home, shout out to our new homegirl Jayce from Brooklyn whom we met in Cochin (great times in Cochin) - and am looking forward to sharing more meals with them and possibly a shabbos (Sabbath) before I leave.
Anyway, last night I was able to got hear Aicha which Mendel read wonderfully, and if I have the energy will return this afternoon for prayers, Israel solidarity of some sort, and breakfast.

It's nice that even in such a far place as Bangalore there's a bit of Jewish life to be found.

1 comment:

  1. Shalom Haber, I'm Heriberto from Mexico I'm new here in Bangalore, i want to learn torah. I'am a Sefaradi. Contact me sabbothiel@gmail.com