Since 2001, Israel has seen an increase in the amount of Indian Jews that are visiting the Jewish state each year.
The Indian city of Mumbai, where a majority of Jews reside in the country, is home to 4,000 Jews, according to J Space News.
From June 5-14, 22 young Indian Jews visited Israel on a free Taglit-Birthright trip to travel the Jewish state and meet with Israelis.
“It was an amazing trip,” said Adina Tambde, 21, from Mumbai in an interview with Tazpit News Agency. “I didn’t feel like a tourist here; I felt very at home. Israel is very welcoming,” she told Tazpit. “The moment when we first landed was very special.”
In India this is a highly respected community and the culture is embraced to the best of their abilities, but the balance between the two traditions often proves to be difficult. So it’s no wonder the participants were happy to find kosher food everywhere.
“It’s easier to keep kosher here – you can eat almost anywhere,” Tambde said. “Although 10 days, without spicy food was a bit hard,” she joked.
Tambde recently completed her college studies in business in Mumbai and is currently exploring options to pursue her master’s degree in Israel. “In India, people admire you for being Jewish and it’s safe for Jews there,” she says. “But it’s difficult to fully follow Judaism and traditions too.”
The group traveled to several parts of the country, including Tiberias, Golan Heights, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem,Yad Vashem, and an Indian spice shop in the Ramle market.
The first Taglit-Birthright trip for Indian Jews started with 12 participants in 2001. It has grown to 40 people in some years, and 32 members taking part in the trip in 2014.