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From Ganapati to Shabbat: Exploring Hindu-Jewish Harmony with John Perry

May 5 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT

From Ganapati to Shabbat: Exploring Hindu-Jewish Harmony with John Perry

“We grew up in such a way that we never felt we are different from each other because of religion. So much so that when they would have the Ganpati festival in their houses, the Hindu neighbors, we would join them. It made me a good Jew.”

In an enlightening conversation on “Dharma Explorers,” John Perry, a Bene Israel Indian Jew, shares his life experiences and insights into the deep connections between the Hindu and Jewish communities. Hosted by Jai Bansal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), the discussion delved into Perry’s multifaceted background and his efforts to foster bonds between these two ancient communities.

John Perry’s journey began in a middle-class, Marathi-speaking Jewish family in India. His early life in India was marked by a vibrant coexistence with Hindus, Christians, and others in his building, symbolizing a microcosm of harmonious multicultural living. This environment played a pivotal role in shaping his worldview and his understanding of communal harmony.

Perry’s professional trajectory led him from journalism in India to taking Israeli citizenship, followed by a move to the United States in 1979. Throughout his career, he not only contributed to various newspapers but also became actively involved in strengthening U.S.-India relations, earning recognition from both the New Jersey State Assembly and the U.S. Congress.

A key aspect of the conversation highlighted Perry’s foundational work in establishing organizations that link the Indian Jewish community with Israel and India, such as the International Organization of Bene Israel and the India-Israel Friendship Association. His firsthand experiences, including accompanying Shimon Peres in 1972 to establish diplomatic ties between Israel and India, provided valuable historical insights.

The discussion also touched on the cultural and religious intersections that define and enrich the Hindu-Jewish relationship. Perry reminisced about his childhood, where Jews and Hindus celebrated each other’s festivals and respected each other’s traditions, a testament to the mutual respect and integrated living that defined his early years. This cross-cultural exchange was a two-way street, with Jews participating in Hindu ceremonies and vice versa, illustrating a profound mutual respect and integration.

Perry spoke passionately about the role of education and family values in both communities, which he believes are the bedrock of their success and cohesion in foreign lands. The interview also shed light on the broader implications of such intertwined living, suggesting that these relationships can serve as models for peaceful coexistence globally.

This conversation not only provided a historical overview of the Hindu-Jewish relationship but also painted a picture of potential future collaborations that could further enrich both communities. It’s a compelling narrative of unity, respect, and the continuous effort required to understand and appreciate the depth of our diverse world.


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