On October 22 CAMERA’s Emet for Israel supported organization at Brandeis University, the Students for Accuracy about Israeli and Palestinian Affairs (SAIPA) brought Dr. Maina Singh to campus, along with co-sponsor, South Asian Student Association (SASA), to hear her discuss her discoveries during her three years of research in Israel.
At the start of her lecture, Dr. Singh revealed some of the “discrepancies and misconceptions she encountered during her initial arrival in Israel.” The Indian community in Israel is made up of around 80,000 people, not an insignificant number for a country the size of Israel. Dr. Singh talked about the way that their community was marginalized in Israeli society. The Indian Jews that came to Israel were put aside in the 1960s while Israel was trying to build up the population of this country.
Dr. Singh discussed the interviews that she conducted over her three years in Israel. The interviews revealed that while some of the Indian-Jewish community assimilated into Jewish culture, many of them held true to their Indian culture which has lasted even through the current generation of Indian-Israeli Jews. For example, Dr. Singh showed photos of celebrations at the Indian Embassy that had both Israeli and Indian flags, kids dressed in the Indian tri-color and doing Bollywood dances.
Dr. Singh was able to connect the event’s audience, filled with Indians, Jews and other allies of Israel, with an Israeli minority that most of them had not even considered, and that many of them didn’t know existed. The audience’s questions showed their genuine interest in Dr. Singh’s lecture.
“I would recommend Maina to any student group interested in creating dialogue between Jews and Indians. She is an amazing individual, personable, and lectures energetically and engages the audience well,” said CAMERA Intern, Misha Vilenchuck, “For the first time, SAIPA was able to bring a portionable Indian population out to an event. We were able to show a subculture of Israel that even us Jews had little to no knowledge of. I believe the event furthered many people’s understandings of Israel.”