Second Hindu Jewish Solidarity Day Educational, Interactive

Dharminder Dargan (left), Swami Nikhilanand Ji, Ira Blewiess, Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe.

HOUSTON: On a nice sunny Sunday afternoon on January 5, the Second Hindu Jewish Solidarity day was held. This event was organized by Hindus of Greater Houston and Bridge Houston at Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community center. It was a gathering of two communities buffeted and persecuted by religious extremists over several centuries.

The “Hindu-Jewish Solidarity Day” brought together leaders and youth from Houston’s Hindu and Jewish communities for an afternoon of strategic networking and inter-cultural synergy. Both the Hindu and Jewish communities have not only a 2000-year old history of living in harmony with each other, but also share prolific proclivities and common challenges in the current global scenario.

Linda (left) , Malka Levy , Ira Blewiss , Marcia , Karen, Dharminder Dargan, Sharad Amin , Swami Nikhilanand Ji, Ravi Raghvan

About 150 Hindu and Jewish community leaders came together to build and strengthen the bond of friendship. The event was organized by Dharminder Dargan and Ravi Raghvan, from Hindus of Greater Houston, and Ira Blewiess, Linda Franklin , Marcia and Malka Levy, from Bridge Houston. The organizers cheerfully mingled with guests and community leaders during the reception social hour held before the start of the program.

Ira started the program and invited Lee Wanch, president of Jewish Federation, and Sharad Amin, president of Hindus of Greater Houston to say a few words. Both community leaders emphasized building strong relationships between two communities and promoting harmony. A Sanskrit invocation was given by Swami Nikhilanand and later he spoke to his Jewish brothers and sisters on behalf of Hinduism. Two Rabi’s from the Jewish community gave a small talk promoting bonding among the Hindu and Jewish people in the Houston Area.

Towards the end of the program, members from both the Hindu and Jewish communities took part in musical performances reflecting their individual yet similar cultures. From the Hindu community, dancers from Yamuna Dance Academy showcased the Bharat Natyam form of Indian traditional dance through 2 performances, while a female acappella group from the Jewish community sang a Jewish song based on the themes of unity and friendship in the community.

Ravi Raghvan gave a well researched and detailed presentation outlining how Jewish families and have individuals have been able to live in India peacefully in the past and how they still continue to do so in the present. Presentation was very well received.

A major highlight of the afternoon was event called “Rakhi”, Dharminder Dargan explained the significance of this symbolic Hindu event to members of the Jewish community. According to traditional Hindu practices, “Rakhi”, a small piece of string, is tied by a sister on her brother’s wrist as a way to imply that the brother be there to protect and care for her. Dargan then invited everyone in the audience to come up and tie “Rakhi’s” to one another as a way to portray the unity and bonding of the two separate yet strikingly similar Hindu and Jewish communities.  Soon members in the audience got up and took red and yellow strings and started to tie them on each other’s hands. Later everyone posed for the camera with their hands with “Rakhi’s” in the air.The event was well received and enjoyed by the audience.

At the end of the program, Ira and Ravi concluded with a short message “This is just the beginning. We all hope to continue on Hindu Jewish Solidarity day for many years to come. Both communities have more similar aspects than previously thought and it is essential for us to come together to tackle the prevalent issues facing both communities together.”

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