Arts Exhibition: Lost and Found: Jewish Communities of India


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When: Jun 10 2018 (All day) until Sep 9 2018 (All day)
Where: East-West Center Gallery, John A. Burns Hall, 1601 East-West Road

The East-West Center Arts Program presents --

Lost and Found: Jewish Communities of India

Exhibition: Sunday, June 10—Sunday, September 9, 2018

Benjamin Waskar praying, Bethel (House of the Lord) Synagogue, Revandra, Konkan Region, 2017. Photographer: Michael Schuster

Curator: Michael Schuster

Consultant and Scholar: Kenneth X. Robbins

Photographer: Gayle Goodman

Installation Design: Lynne Najita

Coordinator: Eric Chang

India has long been a diverse region made up of different peoples, customs, religions, languages, and ethnicities. The majority of people are Hindu, with large Muslim, Christian, Jain, Sikh, and indigenous tribal communities. There are also three small historic Jewish communities. Two of the communities trace their domicile in South Asia to over two millennia. There is physical and written evidence of the Jewish presence in India for at least a thousand years.

This exhibition, focuses on the following historic groups: the Cochini Jews (also known as the Kerala or Malabari Jews), the Benei Israel Jews, and the Baghdadi Jews. There are no instances of indigenous anti-semitism in India. Although the majority of Indian Jews have migrated to Israel, there is still a presence in India. Through photographs, paintings, video, ritual objects, and historical artifacts, the viewer will learn about the customs, rituals, and synagogues of these unique communities. The exhibition will explore the contributions of Jews to Indian society and the impact of Indian culture on Jewish life there.

This exhibition is entitled “Lost and Found” because over centuries of time there has been a continuous if often disrupted communication with the larger Jewish population centers in the Middle East and Europe. Some of the Indian communities describe their ancestors as having been lost at sea or even lost tribes of Israel. Since Indian independence in 1947, the majority of Indian Jews have “returned” to Israel.


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