October 18, 2018

Jews of Ahmedabad, India, welcome Torah scroll

The small Jewish community of Ahmedabad, India, where a store called Hitler recently changed its name, held a synagogue celebration to dedicate a new Torah scroll.

The community of some 125 Jews in this capital city of the western Indian state of Gujerat dedicated the kosher Torah on Sept. 9 after discovering recently that the Torah scroll in its synagogue, Magen Abraham, was not kosher.

Ahmedabad Jews also said they were happy to learn that the clothing shop in their city that carried the name Hitler had agreed to change its name.

“We stood up and roared like a lion,” said Esther David, a well-known Indian author and a lifelong member of the Ahmedabad Jewish community.

“It is a kind of early Purim,” said David Benjamin, a doctor in the community.

It was Jews from Ahmedabad, part of India’s Bnei Yisrael community, who first called attention to the Hitler store, bringing it to the attention of the Israeli consul general in Mumbai, Orna Sagiv. A synagogue delegation later met with the shop owner to convince him to change the name.

International media outlets picked up the story.

“Being a microscopic community of 125 people living in a city of millions, we do not like to stand out. This was the first public storm we have ever faced,” David said. “But it was clear that we could not stay silent.”

David added that the local Jewish community has never experienced any anti-Semitism.

“Like all Indian Jews, we live in absolute peace and tolerance with our neighbors — Hindus, Muslims and Christians,” she said.