Aish UK kicks off its 30th anniversary with trip to India

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Aish UK kicks off its 30th anniversary with trip to India

Around 35 young professionals experience historical Jewish wonders from the Malabar Jews of Cochin to the Tiferet synagogue of the ancient Bene Israel community

Aish, India, 2023
Aish, India, 2023

Educational charity Aish UK kicked off its celebratory 30th anniversary year with an incredible eight-day trip to India for 35 young professionals.

Starting their trip in Mumbai, the group’s first visit was to the Tiferet Israel Synagogue of the ancient Bene Israel community, before travelling to the Kenesset Eliyahu Synagogue, built by the famous Sassoon family and servicing the Baghdadi community that moved to India in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The day included a trip to the Chabad Centre of Mumbai, where participants heard the tragic story of the 2008 terror attack and how the centre had rebuilt even stronger since it occurred.

Aish India Tea Plantation, 2023.

A short domestic flight took the group down to the south-west coast of Kerala, where they explored the incredible history of the Malabar Jews of Cochin, whose heritage, according to legend, traces back to the Temple Era. Their second day took them on a visit to the Chendamangalam Synagogue, built in the Portuguese colonial style and the oldest, fully intact synagogue in the Commonwealth.

After this, they took in the bustling markets of Jew Town across the waterway in the neighbourhood of Mattancherry. Education sessions focused on the importance of community and what Jewish identity means in the modern era.

A visit to Kerala included  a visit to the historic ‘Babu’ Synagogue of Cochin, restored by local resident Mr Elias Josephai together with his wife Ofrah.

Mr Josephai owns and operates an aquarium shop located inside the entrance hall to the synagogue, through which he raises funds for the upkeep of the interior. The group enjoyed a keynote presentation outlining the major differences between Judaism and other faiths, as well as the central importance of the National Revelation at Sinai to our belief system.

Friday night davening was led by Rabbi Shmuely Kott as the ‘Babu’ Synagogue was brought back to life with singing and dancing. The young professionals shared a Friday night meal and ‘Oneg’ together with their Indian hosts and their families.

Participant Jonah Moore said: “During my journey through India with Aish UK, I discovered a vibrant tapestry of culture and spirituality that ignited my Jewish soul. It was an experience that transcended boundaries and truly enriched my life.”

Nathan Graff said: “Exploring the rich and ancient Jewish culture in India, with Aish, is a journey of a lifetime. From the bustling synagogues of Mumbai to the quaint Jewish quarters of Kochi, you will be transported to a world of captivating stories, delectable cuisine, and age-old traditions that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.”-

Rabbi Eli Birnbaum director of Aish UK young professionals said: “Our first organised trip to India was one that offered a unique experience in every sense of the word. Together, we explored and learned about a totally different culture and way of life. The places we visited and people we met provided the perfect opportunity to delve into Judaism’s core ideas and values from a radically different angle to the western ‘norm’. A truly unforgettable journey.”

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