Jewish candles in the window

Fishel Benkhald

To be honest, these thoughts are not from an expert, but are heartfelt wishful thinking.

Besides the reality of extremism and debate on lack of law and order, let’s share which candles Pakistan might put in the window for the lost Pakistani Jewish community. At this hour of night while we all await for that sun to shine again on all of us which Pakistan’s non-Muslim and Muslim founding fathers and mothers thought of.

Jews have lived among different Islamic cultures and got accustomed to it, at times total assimilation of different cultures and religions may not be completely possible but multicultural societies while keeping their distinctive individual identities intact exist and are doing well. This was the atmosphere in which Jewish community were living in the pre-partition Pakistan.

There are few articles addressing fleeing of the Jewish community years after independence of Pakistan, toward India, Israel and the west. This migration was not for a better economy it was toward better tolerance of Jewish faith and stigma associated with it which each time grew darker in Karachi-Pakistan against TelAviv-Israel 3,240 kilometer away.

Whenever Arab Israel conflict intensified, for example, during establishment of Israel May-1948, throughout the six day war of June-1967, and Yom Kippur war of October-1973, later first Lebanon war May-1982, along with each Intifada-unrest, imported anger grew in Pakistan against Jews because Arabic wordings of news by Arab media and Arab leaders of that time were used in Urdu in Pakistan, hence the name of a religion “Jewish-یہودی” was gradually ostracized from Pakistani national identity.

One way or another each nation carry sins of their fathers, ours is also not an exception, it’s also true that the past cannot be undone nor most of us individually has powers to bring about change in the area that we have concerns about. Still, even then our area of influence, where one can bring about change is not that small and one of that small area is the Jewish cemetery in the larger Mewah Shah graveyard in Karachi Pakistan.

A little candle in the window is lit at night by inhabitants of the home for those loved ones who are far or lost, its metaphor here of cleaning Karachi Jewish cemetery. It’s obvious to you, the reader, that as a Pakistani nation this little gesture of preserving once forgotten part of history and heritage is as important for diversity as it is to the Pakistani Jewish community whose loved ones are buried in the motherly embrace of Pakistan.

These graves are of the same Jewish Pakistanis, who once dwelled in the same city and called it home, they found it safe and nurturing enough to choose it to raise a family, earn a living and made their memories in it. Now we together by improving aesthetic view of Jewish cemetery our generation can make and connect our memoires with of theirs. Their living relatives can at least find some peace of heart knowing that there are some prayers and services done over the graves of their relatives in Pakistan.

 

You can find Fishel Benkhald on Twitter: @Jew_Pakistani

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