After arriving at Shalom Hotel we took a drive to the Indian Ocean. Stretching our legs and playing in the ocean was just what we needed! Seeing the countryside during the ride was beautiful.
After many preconceived notions about what Shabbat would be in India we came to find many similarities and some cool new traditions we are excited to bring home. The service was led by the Indian and American community switching off prayers and tunes. After services we moved into a delicious dinner that was ran by some traditions led by the Indian community such as a prayer said before the hamotzi, it’s the prayer that we say in our Shabbat service but they say it as they bless the bread. Although Kiddush was very similar the taste of the wine was special, they have a 2000 year old tradition of making their wine from raisins, making it much sweeter than our wine. Many Indian Jewish families still make this wine in their homes. They squeeze the raisins with their hands…not their feet, that would be disrespectful to the food. We hope to have some event at home trying to replicate this non-manischevitz experience. On Saturday we had many learning break out sessions, from learning Hindi or Parsha to improve. Together we had a Love and Marriage session realizing a lot of similarities and differences. It brought up how teenagers are teenagers no matter where they are and Jews all over have similar pressures from their Jewish parents, some more strict than others.
Ending Shabbat with the Havdalah service was beautiful. Indians and Americans stood arm in arm and sang together ending the night on he rooftop with more conversations that sparked earlier.
Sunday we headed to Alibag where we had lunch and saw the Arabian Sea. Next we visited the gravesite where the seven original Jewish families are buried. They were merchants that were shipwrecked and landed here in Alibag where they started the Jewish community that still exists today. Seeing graves with both Hebrew and Hindi writing was interesting. We spent the evening at a synagogues 100th anniversary. Walking to the ceremony we passed small village homes with mezuzot from past communities. It was so neat to see Jews from Israel, America and all over the world to celebrate this momentous occasion. Malida was given to us, a traditional celebratory dessert, with each food representing a different blessing. Malida is used for many celebrations. We ended up leaving early since the celebration started at 4 and was probably going to continue until midnight, where dinner was to be served after. After eating we headed to Shalom Hotel #2 which is serene and lovely.
Today we are visiting a synagogue where it is thought that any wish you make there comes true. We will be visiting an old age home where we will eat dinner with them after spending some time with them. Old age homes are very rare in India, most elderly live with their families. The Jewish community recognized there were some elders without family and care and decided this was a worthwhile investment.