This tale begins with a shipwreck, but there was no Skipper, Professor or even a Gilligan.Â What there was, about 2000 years ago, was the beginning of an amazing culture- Bene Israel of India- that has kept its ties to the land of Israel over the millenia.Â Sounds too incredible, but it is true.
Meet Yael- Yael Jhirad, a decendent of the original shipwrecked group of Jewish families who were escaping Spain and in search of a new place to live. Â Today, there are approximately 6000 Jews living in India, split into three distinct groups â€“ the Bene Israel the Cochin Jews, who descended from Europe and the Baghdadis, who were originally from Iraq.Â The common thread among them is their love and commitment to Israel.Â
Together with her husband Ralphy and their children, Yael makes up a vibrant force for positive community activism for women at home in India and in Israel.
"We grew up with two identities, with India and Israel. And people know that we have family in Israel. In Indian homes, there is always a little temple, with pictures or statues of the gods. When they come to our home they look for it and canâ€™t find it."
Now Yael Jhirad wants to reconnect the Indian Jewish women to Israel and the entire Jewish Diaspora. This is a daunting challenge to be sure as a new member welcomed into the international WIZO family. But her experience in the travel business serves as a fine base of operations she conducts tours of Jewish India, and she even guided Ehud Olmert when he was the Vice Prime Minister. Self-identity as a woman, a Jewish woman, a woman of India, allows Yael to negotiate and advocate for a diverse population of women who have unmet physical, psychological, financial, legal and emotional needs.
Within every woman lies the potential and the strength to undertake a journey of personal empowerment. The progression is built in such a way that each woman can decide where and how much she wants to move forward. from WIZO