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India’s President Attends Ceremony for Centenary of Synagogue in Bombay

June 6, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

President Zail Singh of India, opening the centenary celebrations of the Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue here, kindled a menorah and lauded the contributions of India’s Jewish community to the nation in business, industry, civil service, the armed forces and scholarship.

The Jewish community will continue to receive the government’s support and the nation would always acknowledge and respect the rich contribution made by Jews to India’s heritage, the chief of State told the members of the 100 year-old congregation, the World Jewish Congress reported.

Mrs. Sophy Kelly, president of the synagogue, noted that the President of India “was with us for two solid hours and expressed great interest in Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel.” She added that the function was covered by the major media and “the publicity created great sympathy for the Jewish religion, the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

Singh’s remarks were in sharp contrast to those of India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in an interview published in the Paris daily Le Monde yesterday, in which he called Israelis “too bellicose” and said India would not establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish State until “it will change its attitude on a number of issues.” Gandhi is due in France Thursday on an official visit. The Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue was built in 1884 by Jacob Sasson to commemorate the name of Elias David Sasson who fled to India from Iraq to escape persecution. The Jews who came to India from Baghdad are known as “Baghdadis” and have two synagogues. Jews who immigrated earlier are known as Bnei Israel and have five synagogues in Bombay.

The commemoration ceremonies attended by Singh included the singing of the Indian and Israeli national anthems.

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