The Sacred Rock in India Revered by Both Jews and Hindus

According to their own traditions, the Bene Israel—an ancient Jewish community living on the western coast of India—are descended either from one of the Ten Lost Tribes exiled in the 8th century BCE, or shipwrecked refugees who fled persecution around the time of Maccabean Revolt. In Maharashtra state, the historic home of the Bene Israel, there is a holy rock they have long venerated along with local Hindus. Sharmila Ganesan Ram writes:

Known locally as “Ghodyacha Tap” and internationally as Prophet Elijah’s Chariot Site, Prophet Elijah’s Rock leaps out amid the synagogues, libraries, cemeteries, and schools that are part of the Jewish Route, a recently inaugurated tourism initiative comprising 26 Jewish heritage structures across the state.

When the Bene Israel, [according to legend], arrived at the Konkan coast 2,000 years ago, the Prophet Elijah is believed to have revived the unconscious members who had washed up on the beach. Shipwrecked at Nagaon, the community sought help from the locals who employed them as oil pressers.

“The Bene Israel legend narrates two occasions when Elijah the Prophet visited India and ascended to heaven. The first account recounts his stop at Talvali,” says [Hebrew University’s] Shaul Sapir. “It is said Prophet Elijah took off from here into the sky on a chariot of fire. The chariots’ wheels and horses’ footprints, visible at this site, are imprinted on a large rock,” he adds.

Bene Israelis come down to [the rock to] perform malida, a thanksgiving ceremony meant to celebrate new babies, anniversaries, or other simchas (happy events) by invoking Prophet Elijah.

Read more at Times of India

More about: Bene Israel, Elijah, Hinduism, Indian Jewry

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy