Jews in Maharashtra have finally found much reason to rejoice after their long-fought battle for recognition resulted in the Maharashtra Government granting them minority status.
The decision was announced on the 21st of June by the former State Minority Affairs Minister, Eknath Khadse. The move marks the end of the battle for recognition that began last year.
In a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis lobbying for the minority status, the Jewish community had highlighted their rich history and priceless contribution to the country:
“The Jews of Maharashtra can trace back their history 2,000 years and so they should get minority status,” it said.
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They also highlighted the current plight of the community, mentioning that ‘Judaism’ was not included as a religion in the Census.
The move will benefit the 2,466 Jews that reside in the state. The community will now be able to set up their own educational institutes and avail of concessions and scholarships earmarked for minorities. They will also find it easier to obtain their official documents and to practise and promote their culture.
As a minority community, Jews will also be able to apply for leave on Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, something they were unable to do before today.
The decision has been dubbed a long-overdue one and has been well received by the community. Solomon Sopher, Chairman and Managing Trustee of Sir Jacob Sassoon Charities and Allied Trusts and President of the Indian Jewish Congress, told The Times of India, “We are grateful to the government of Maharashtra, and specifically the governor, as he was the one who helped us in a big way.”
Says Judah Samuel, president of The Shaare Rason Synagogue, “India is home to us and means a lot to us. We have been living here for so many years but there are no records to show that Jews live in India.”
With the minority status, Jews in Maharashtra join the list of minority communities that includes Jains, Parsis, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.