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Asian Jewish Life - A Journal of Spirit, Society and Culture

The India Issue - Autumn 2010

Cover Story:
Siona Benjamin's Interviews on Canvas

Faces of the Bene Israel
by Erica Lyons

When artist Siona Benjamin, an American, set out on her trip back to the India of her childhood in 2010, she arrived with an intense sense of purposefulness heavily laden with nostalgia. She was intent on rescuing the stories and narratives of these people, her people, the Jews of India. Benjamin was awarded the Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship 2010-11, which enabled her to embark on […] [read online...]

Secrets of Ceylon
What happened to the Jews of Sri Lanka?
by Andrew Harris

Shabbat at Chabad Colombo. Ceiling fans whoosh languidly overhead, muffling the crowd of us individual daveners; four men–me, a backpacking Israeli father and son, and Rabbi Mendie Crombie - not even half a minyan, working our way through kabbalat shabbat, concluding roughly together. On the other side of the loungeroom mechitzah are the rebbetzin and my wife, Naava. At the only synagogue in the country, this, Rabbi Crombie later tells me, is an above-average turnout.

Rabbi Crombie’s Chabad House is set up to serve the needs of
[…] [read online...]

The Tomb of Rachel - The Bene Israel Connection
Wanderers, emissaries, matriarchs and a holy site
by Dr. Shalva Weil

In 1856, Rabbi Yaacov Sapir, an emissary from Eretz Israel, departed on a five-year tour of far-flung Jewish communities, including Yemen, India, Australia and New Zealand. Sapir had been born in Oshmiany near Wilna, but his parents, fired by messianic and religious motivations, had come to Palestine and settled in Safed. Upon his return to Jerusalem from his long mission, he published an amazingly detailed travel log, with first-hand descriptions of the life of the Yemenite Jews, as well as the appearance of the pseudo-Messiah Judah ben Shalom. In 1866, he published an invaluable work called “Even Sapir” in which he details all three communities of Indian Jews: the Bene Israel, the Baghdadis who had settled in Bombay (today Mumbai) and Calcutta, and the Cochin Jews.

In 1859, Rabbi Sapir stayed six months in Bombay. He was hosted by the Baghdadi community, but,
[…] [read online...]

A Vision of China - Israel Academic Interchange
by Carice Witte

In early 2010, I met Zhang Yangjia, a graduate student in economics from Nanjing University who was preparing a presentation for a class on the development of the Israeli economy since the state’s beginnings in 1948. [read online...]

Best of AJL
Visit to the IDF Field Hospital in Minami Sanriku

An Insider's View
by Philip Rosenfeld

It was early in the morning on April 5th when I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mission had on the lives of the Japanese. These were people among the most severely affected by the tsunami. It was also a look at the power and potential of organized cooperation in the Jewish world.

I left the safety of Tokyo and met Israeli Ambassador Ben-Shitrit in Sendai and
[read online...]

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Asian Jewish Life shares regional Jewish thoughts, ideas and culture and promote unity. It also celebrates our individuality and our diverse backgrounds and customs.
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Articles from the Current issue


by Allison Heiliczer
Hanoi and Counting

by Raquelle Azran
Holy People in the Taxi

by Erica Lyons
Letter from the Editor

by Erica Lyons

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