Meeting the Jewish Community of Mumbai India

Irene Shaland and guides inside the Mumbai Mogen David Synagogue

Excerpt from Irene Shaland’s book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories.”

Jews settled in Mumbai (Bombay) in the 18th century. First, the Baghdadi arrived in the 1730s. Then, the Bene Israel began migrating from the countryside into the city in the 1740s. Today, Mumbai has the largest Jewish community in India: 3,500 to 4,000 people, most of whom are the Bene Israel. We visited two of the city’s eight synagogues: Kenesseth Eliyahoo and Magen David. Both were built by the Sassons, the wealthiest family of the Baghdadi Jews. The elegant blue structure of the Magen David Synagogue was erected by David Sasson in 1861. Hanna and Eliyahoo were waiting for us inside.

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Join us for a Free Virtual Lecture: Jews and Aborigines

Australian aboriginal man

Jews and Aborigines: Little-Known Stories from Australia

Tuesday, January 26th , 2021, 1:00 PM

Presenter: Irene Shaland

This program is hosted by The Women of Fairmount Temple.    The event is FREE but a Registration is required.  To register: email Janice Hirshon at  jchirshon@gmail.com

Follow Irene Shaland on an exciting virtual trip to Australia to explore this country’s history, its land, and its people. Meet an Aboriginal man, William Cooper, a hero of his people’s human rights struggle and a brave defender of the Jews during World War II.

William Cooper
William Cooper

What inspired Cooper to stand up for the Jews from faraway Europe, while in his own country he and his people had no legal rights, and until 1967 were officially classified as an equivalent of flora and fauna”?  

During Cooper’s life, Australia maintained the “White Australia“policies and considered Jews, though not classified as colored,” to be others” who should not be issued entrance visas. How did Australia become the country that opened its doors to numerous refugees from Europe, second only to Israel by the ratio of the Holocaust survivors to its population?

Irene Shaland in Sydney Jewish Museum
Irene Shaland in Sydney Jewish Museum.
Sydney Jewish Museum, Australia
Sydney Jewish Museum

Was it a coincidence that the Australian Jews stepped into the forefront of the struggle for Aboriginal rights in defense of the indigenous Australians?

Our presenter, Irene Shaland is the author of “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories” and a multitude of magazine articles published in the US, Canada, the UK, and Israel. She regularly presents at conferences, museums, universities, special-interest group events, and other venues throughout the country.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Meet Irene Shaland.

The “Jewish Question” in Vienna (excerpt from The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories)

monument in Vienna, Austria

Don’t look for the Steinedererinnerung in your guidebook: the murdered Jews of Austria have neither a Rick Steves nor a Frommer. And Vienna, basking in its Baroque and Art Nouveau splendor, would rather have you waltzing from Schonbrunn palace to Sachertorte’s shops instead of searching out the synagogues and homes of long-gone Jews. An Austrian sarcastic proverb, as noted by Magrit Reiter in her conference presentation “Antisemitism in Austria after the Shoa,” declares that Germans were the “better Nazis,” while Austrians were definitely the “better anti-Semites.”

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