India to start Jewish heritage tours for Indian-origin Jews

With India renovating Jewish heritage sites in the country, India's envoy to Israel has appealed to young Jews of Indian origin to utilise the ease of travelling to the land of their forefathers and to contribute in strengthening bilateral ties by connecting to their roots.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 16, 2015, 15:02 PM IST

Ramla: With India renovating Jewish heritage sites in the country, India's envoy to Israel has appealed to young Jews of Indian origin to utilise the ease of travelling to the land of their forefathers and to contribute in strengthening bilateral ties by connecting to their roots.

"We want to tell the world proudly about the rich Jewish life in India with your efforts we are working to preserve the Jewish heritage in India. We hope to have a package tour to Jewish heritage sites in Mumbai and elsewhere by early next year," Ambassador Jaideep Sarkar told more than 3,500 Indian- origin Jews gathered here from all over Israel to celebrate the 3rd National Convention of Indian Jews in Israel.

Earlier this year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during his visit to Israel had said that his government would?take initiatives to preserve the Jewish heritage sites in the state as it looks to promote tourism.

"The state government is planning to celebrate the year 2017 as 'Visit Maharashtra year'. By that time we would create lot of circuits for tourism. I feel that if we could preserve the erstwhile?Jewish?heritage, lot of tourists could come there," Fadnavis had said.

The Paravoor and Chennamangalam synagogues in Cochin were recently renovated and could emerge as major attractions for the 25,000-strong Cochini Jews living in Israel.

Encouraging the members of the community to pass on their rich tradition to generations to come, the Indian diplomat told the gathering about various schemes launched by the Indian government like e-visa, and Know India Programme for children of Indian origin.

He also urged them to consider the option of taking advantage of quality education at affordable prices available in India in the field of science, engineering and medicine which is recognised the world over.

"The important thing is to continue what you began so well?and pass on the spirit and idea behind the convention to the next generation. The house of Indian Jewish unity has a strong foundation. Now we have to build upon it," Sarkar told the members of all the four Indian Jewish communities who attended the event earlier this week.

There are about 85,000 Jews of Indian origin living in Israel from four different communities - Bene Israel from the Maharashtra region, Cochini Jews from Kerala, Baghdadis from the Kolkata area and Bnei Menashe from Manipur and Mizoram.