IJC member Elizabeth Garlick reports
The Judah Hyam reform synagogue In Delhi lies mid-way between the chic Khan Market area and the India Gate monument, a peaceful oasis within the delightful chaos that is modern Delhi. I’d had an exchange of emails with Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar (see photo) prior to my arrival and eagerly looked forward to experiencing a Shabbat service in India.
For many years this congregation has been in decline and they can regrettably only provide a Kabbalat service, never having the required Minyan for the Shacharit service.
Arriving early, I was given a tour of the synagogue by Rabbi Ezekiel. The synagogue was built in 1956 (with a communal hall added in 1972) and lies adjacent to a Jewish cemetery dating back more than 90 years. From the pictures you can see the beautiful interior of the synagogue with its bema and Aron Kodesh (the Sefer Torah scrolls were donated from Shuls in the US).
The Rabbi was assisted during the service by his two sons with myself, a local lady and 2 Canadian walk-ins as the congregation. It was a very emotional service and I could almost hear the voices of what was once a vibrant community.
Rabbi Ezekiel devotes his time to inter-faith projects in India and has received numerous awards for his work including being presented to both the Dali Lama and Pope Jean-Paul II. He is a prolific author and provides Indian Jewish commentary in his frequent articles for the Indian Times.
Rabbi Ezekiel is stoical about the future of his synagogue, knowing that when he’s no longer there, it will be relegated to a museum like so many other synagogues in India, notably Cochin. If any of you are in Delhi, be sure to experience a service in this amazing synagogue. You would be very welcome.
Rabbi Ezekiel Issac Malekar with Dali Lama Judah Hyam Synagogue interior with bema and with Aron Kodesh