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City Moment – Joshua’s Bar Mitzvah, Chabad House

The remarkable Delhi instant.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

This does not happen often in Delhi.

One afternoon The Delhi Walla attended Joshua’s bar mitzvah, the coming of age ritual that every Jewish boy undergoes on turning 13. One of the 20 Jewish residents of Delhi, the boy had his bar mitzvah ceremony held at the Chabad House in Paharganj.

The book-lined Jewish center teemed with a couple of tourists. Among the attendees included Joshua’s immediate family — his father, David; mother Leah; brothers Rafael and Michael. The other notables were grandmother Segula (aka Sheila) from Poona and an aunt who feels too shy to be named. Another important guest was Zekiel Isaac Malekar, the rabbi of Judas Hyam Synagogue, Delhi’s only Jewish temple near Khan Market.

Over a spread of challah, hummus, tahini, eggplant dip, and the bar mitzvah chocolate cake, grandmother Sheila, who gifted an iPad to Joshua, told me: “We are most fluent in Hindi and English but Marathi is our mother tongue and we pray in Hebrew.”

Speaking on the occasion, rabbi Malekar told the bar mitzvah boy that so far all his actions and thoughts – good and bad – were transferred to his father, but from now onward, they would be his responsibilities alone.

As if on cue, everyone yelled mazal tov, ‘congratulation’ in Hebrew.

Being watched by everyone, Joshua, on the verge of becoming a man, simply blushed. It was a beautiful moment.

A rare Delhi heritage
















4 thoughts on “City Moment – Joshua’s Bar Mitzvah, Chabad House

  1. Mayank, I started searching where the Judas Hyam Synagogue is located and if i have understood correctly from google maps, its the place where the flower vendor behind khan market sits, and you turn left to enter Khan market/amrita shergil marg. Please correct me if I am wrong. Also would you happen to if ‘visitors’ are allowed there? I plead complete ignorance about judaism.

    1. Yes, it’s the one near Khan Market. Usually they don’t allow entry to new visitors because of security concerns.

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