Saturday, March 05, 2011

Our culture is lost, says Pakistani Jew's descendant

Karachi synagogue in the 1970s

The history and plight of Pakistan's vanished Jews has elicited much interest on this blog, especially from Pakistani Muslims. Point of No Return was therefore excited to hear from Yifa Yaacov, the great grand-daughter of a Karachi Jew called Rachael. But we were also sad to learn from Yifa that their specific culture has been lost to Jews like herself. Yifa invites comments from interested readers:

"I am the great-granddaughter of a Karachi Jew named Rachael. Her father was a jailer in Karachi. She moved to Mumbai and Gujarat and died in Ahmedabad in 1973. My great-grandfather, a Maharashtran Jew, died in Israel. I visited her grave this past summer. It touched me deeply and I started to learn Urdu (maybe I will get to Marathi someday). I only wish I could visit Rachaelbai's birthplace in Karachi. What kind of a world is it where a great-granddaugher cannot see the birthplace of the great-grandmother after whom she is named.

"The family today is scattered between southern Israel, the East coast of the US, Dubai and Mumbai. Our Indian Jewish culture is almost completely lost to us. Over 50 years after my grandfather sailed for New York from Bombay's Sassoon Docks (named, of course, after a Baghdadi Jew, two of my other grandparents were these), all we have is threads of the culture of our forefathers.

"It seemed hysterical to the point of sadness to me that my Indian relatives would refer to the synagogue as both "mandir" and "masjid." So lucky to have ended up in a territory characterized by a confluence of Hindu and Muslim cultures, so unlucky to have been encouraged to leave, hide, intermarry or die out.

You are welcome to share your thoughts with me at yifa.yaakov@mail.huji.ac.il.

Bahut shukriya."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My dear friend,

it is unfortunately the fate of us
Jews. We must have strong shoulders to bear all this and to maintain our Jewishness
But please remember that anything that does not kill us, makes us stronger and that is what we need to be as Jews!
suzy vidal aka sultana latifa

Atta Rasool said...

Shalom. I wonder can I interact with Pakistani Jew who has migrated to Israel? It would be greatly beneficial for my thesis Pakistan-Israel Relations, I am currently engaged in. This interaction would give credibility to my work and great effort for peace. Atta rasool malik
Islamabad
attarasul@hotmail.com

bataween said...

Hello Atta
I think your best bet would be to contact Yifa at the email above - hopefull she will be able to give you a few leads.
Bataween

Shaul said...

Hello Atta
I was referred to this blog by a very good Pakistanian friend of mine (studied Law together 20 years ago in Sheffield...)
Another avenue you might want to pursue is contacting "Beit Hatfutsot":
http://www.bh.org.il/default.aspx
Wish you best of luck
Shaul Cohen
Israel

Anonymous said...

My Dear Friend

As a Pakistani, I almost feel shame that my own people cannot return to their ancestral homeland. By the way, there still remains an old Jewish cemetery in Karachi (preserved to date). I wish you best of luck, reviving your heritage.

Sincerely

A fellow Pakistani :)

bataween said...

I have just had to delete a vile, racist comment. Such comments are not allowed on this blog.