Mumbai, India

Jewish life in India can be traced back a thousand years to the B'nei Yisrael sect, a sect that has, for all intents and purposes, been cut off from all things Jewish for nearly that long. There also exists a population of Iraqi Jews who were able to maintain aspects of their heritage for many years but have recently been faltering. In 1949, 100 Iraqis and 20,000 B'nei Yisrael Jews immigrated to Israel. They left behind a mere 7,000 Jews in Bombay with no spiritual leadership.

Seven years ago, the SSC answered their plight and sent Rabbi Zion Cohen (may God rest his soul) to lead them. In six months time, he strengthened the minyan and other Jewish activities. He diligently worked with six young men, teaching them about shehita (ritual slaughtering) and instructing them on the fundamentals of living a Jewish life. Most of all, he imparted a love of Judaism, which held fast.

Three of the students went to Israel to study at the SSC. They were educated about many other Jewish rituals including baking matzot, the art of the scribe and brit milah, developing leadership qualities and religious know-how. One student, Yehoshua Kolet, earned his teaching certificate and returned to Bombay to teach Jewish studies. He has since been traveling back and forth to Israel studying for his rabbinical certificate and upon completion will return to Bombay to lead his community. Yet another student became a scribe and still another, a mohel.

As a result of the SSC's intervention, the level of religious practice in Bombay has risen dramatically. As a direct result of the SSC's training of the shohatim; kosher meat has now become readily available. SSC has also helped to forge a spiritual link between Bombay and Israel that did not previously exist.