(JNS.org) The Indian state of Maharashtra has become the second Indian state to grant official minority status to its Jewish community, which contains about 3,000 of the approximately 4,500 Jews who live in all of India.
Among other new state benefits for Maharashtra's Jews, the ruling means that those Jews will join Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsees, and Jains in being counted as an official minority population in the Indian census.
Judah Samuel, president of Shaare Rason Synagogue in Mumbai, along with the Indian Jewish Congress, collected unofficial figures on Maharashtra Jewry and submitted them to Indian Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla as part of a request for minority status.
“The contribution of the Jews was no less than what the Parsees did for India,” said Solomon Sopher, president of the Indian Jewish Congress.
“The Jews feel very connected to India, which is our motherland, while Israel is our fatherland,” Samuel said. “Our loyalty also lies with India, this being the country that accepted us almost 2,500 years ago, and one of the only countries in the world which never persecuted the Jews in all these years.”
“We’re a very small community and we’ve never asked for anything special. But we’re elated with the new status,” Samuel added, the New York Times reported.
The first Indian state to bestow such a status on its Jewish community was the state of Bengal a decade ago, according to the Indian Express.