25 October, 2020

Lighting The Menorah

The restored Magen David synagogue, built by Sassoon in 1864, is set to open its doors

Apoorva Salkade
Lighting The Menorah

“Before, so many people used to come,” says David, says Chaim, say Tzion and Bentzion, say Dina, Moshe and Hazel. Anyone connected to the Magen David Synagogue in Mumbai’s Byculla area says the same thing, almost word for word, about the place: “There wasn’t  even room on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath, on Saturday) for everyone to come inside. And on the high holidays of New Year, Yom Kippur and Passover? Forget about it! The number of people who had to remain outside was at least double that of those inside.”

Usually, the conversation ends here; nostalgia for the past seems to be the only relevant topic of conversation. Most of Mumbai’s once-thriving Jewish community has emigrated to Israel and there are so few worshippers here now; not even always the mandatory 10 men who need to be present in order to take the Holy Torah Book out of its ark and read it. The once truly grand sky-blue Gothic building fell long ago into a state of decay and disrepair, with no one left among the scattered and...



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