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


Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion