A Report on the Lecture - Jewish Urban Bombay Dr. Shaul Sapir
The Jewish Influence on the Urbanization of Bombay
Hod ve-Hadar Synagogue, Kfar Saba, November 12, 2014
Close to a hundred attendees filled the grand Hod ve-Hadar synagogue, Masorti (Conservative) Movement. There were members of the synagogues congregation, those from Indian Jewish backgrounds and otherwise. All were greeted with hot Chai and some typical Indian snacks, and an exhibition of architectural highlights from Mumbai connected to the lecture.
Avner Isaac, Chairman of the Indian Jewish Heritage Center opened the evening with an introduction to the organization and its various activities over the last number of years in preserving and presenting the Indian Jewish Heritage to the Israel public and the younger generations from Indian Jewish descent.
Mark Sopher (Baghdad community of Bombay), lived in the bustling metropolitan till his late teens. He sketched his Jewish and Zionistic life growing up in the city from the 1940s till the early 60s.
Dr. Sapir then made his presentation transposing the audience to his early childhood in Bombay, his immigration to Israel in the sixties, and his ever-burning desire to go back to the city of his birth – Bombay. Well equipped with his academic qualifications especially in architecture and history – Dr. Sapir does make it back to Mumbai. His adventurous path and Israeli Chutzpa took him from the libraries of London, through the many corridors of the Indian Governmental offices, all the way to the desk of the Chairman of the Bank of India. The road was a long 8 years of research and more.
With a slide presentation of his journey and the various structures, Dr. Sapir carries us through the compilation of his book with historical events, historical structures, people and time. They all culminate in his wonderfully graphed book – Jewish Urban Bombay.
Raba Yehudit Edelman-Green took the stage and with a colorful slide presentation shared with us her experience praying and serving a section of the present Bnei Israel community in Mumbai.
Florie Shimoni finally closed the evening with an ancient Bnei Israel chant and prayer that she learnt from her grandfather. Her peaceful voice and sincerity modulates from the heart of a Jewish community that for hundreds of years inhabited the western coast of Bombay and India.