Follow-Up Projects: India December 2018

Learn how Project Inspire participants have shared their experience and made an impact in Boston.

Allie L


“One of the most memorable parts of the trip was spending time with the Bene Israel and Baghdadi Jews of India -- two very early Jewish communities. Very few people I talked to back home after the trip were aware that there were Jewish people living in India. My Grandmother, Estelle Levy, teaches a class called "Yiddish in the Pub" at Brightview in Canton. It was through Yiddish that many Jewish families and communities stayed connected for centuries. As Jews settled in different countries, the Yiddish language was and (continues to be) a common thread. In addition to teaching the Yiddish language, my Grandmother talks about current events and topics of interest related to Jewish communities around the world. She invited me to speak at one of her classes because her students didn’t know there were Jews in India, and she thought it would be an interesting topic. I enjoyed presenting and discussing the trip with this engaging group.“   


Alaina & Jen



“A favorite memory from our trip was a Havdalah service at our hotel. It was a great opportunity to look back and reflect on what we had done the past few days and discuss what we were looking forward to in the remaining days of the trip. We decided to do a Havdalah service in Boston/Cambridge to try recreate the moment we had and share our experiences from the trip with our friends back home. We shared a video about the Gabriel Project Mumbai and explained some of the things we learned about the Jewish community before doing the Havdalah prayers. We then had everyone in the room share a little bit about their previous week and what they were looking forward to in the coming week. It was so nice to break up our normal routine that we usually follow at home and have this time to share things about our trip with our friends.”



Allie P & David G


“Two highlights of the trip to India with Project Inspire were learning about the work being done by Israel's Development Agency, MASHAV, and building a new community of Jewish young professionals. When we got back to Boston, we wanted to share our experience with another group of Jewish young professionals - Birthright Israel Excel Alumni in Boston. Birthright Israel Excel is a lifelong business fellowship that engages Jewish young adults interested in business, tech, entrepreneurship, the Jewish community and the State of Israel. We hosted a Shabbat dinner with Excel Alumni who wanted to learn more about the trip. At the dinner, we spoke about some of the highlights of our trip including attending an Indian Jewish wedding, learning about the Jewish community in Mumbai, and visiting the Gabriel Project. Everyone at the Shabbat dinner was excited to learn about a new opportunity to connect with Israel and travel with Jewish peers. Hopefully some will apply for future trips and join the Project Inspire Alumni Community in Boston!”





“After returning to Boston, I wanted to share two of the most memorable moments from my trip - Bollywood dancing learned from my new Indian-Jewish friends and visiting the Gabriel Project Mumbai. In collaboration with YISOD - Temple Emanuel young professional group, I created an India- themed afternoon with an introductory BollyX class and catered Indian Vegetarian lunch followed by a short presentation about the incredible work being performed by the GPM.  The event was hosted at Down the Road Brewery, which opened the attendance up to a more diverse group of people. We had 20+ attendees with a portion of the ticket proceeds going to GPM. It was a day full of delicious food, Bollywood dancing, and fun!”



Clara & Emma


“Food and Shabbat have always been two central pillars in our lives. For our follow up project, we decided to combine the two with a new twist: Indian food! When we spent the day in the Kalwa Slums of Mumbai, we learned about the Masala Mamas, a group of women that makes hot and nutritious meals for the children in the slums. This women’s cooperative, supported by the Israeli NGO Gabriel Project Mumbai, published a cookbook with their recipes which we attempted to replicate for our Shabbat dinner. Last Friday, we gathered over 35 young Jewish professionals to share the incredible story of the Masala Mama’s and women empowerment in the Kalwa Slums. We definitely lived by our trip’s motto: get inspired, inspire others!”





“During my trip to India with Project Inspire I was deeply moved by the diversity of the Jewish community of Mumbai, and the members of the Bene Israeli and Baghdadi Jewish communities I met. For my follow-up project, I shared my experience learning about the Jewish community of India with CJP’s Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Development Series, along with representatives from the past Project Inspire trips to Kenya. I described the day our group traveled to the beach south of Mumbai where the ancestors of the Bene Israeli community are thought to have shipwrecked 2,000 years ago, and the impact standing on that beach had on my connection to Jews in India and around the world. Together with the other Project Inspire alumni from Kenya, I shared my experiences not only learning about the people we met in India and Kenya, but also how it impacted our own identities. We lead the cohort members through an exercise exploring what it means to be a Global Jewish Citizen - what motivates us, as Jews, to work for and care about the developing world.”





“One of the most rewarding parts of the trip was interacting with the Jewish community in Mumbai and learning about the similarities and differences in our traditions. One unique custom of the Bene Israel community is to perform a malida ceremony in times of celebration. The malida is both the ceremony and a sweetened rice dish made from poha, coconut, sugar, and cardamom. As part of the ceremony, a prayer to Elijah is recited and the dish is offered in thanksgiving. After the prayer is recited, the malida is passed around for everyone to taste. I wanted to bring this unique, celebration back to share with my peers. I hosted a brunch where I showed a slideshow of pictures from our trip, performed the malida ceremony, and shared the dish for everyone to try. I asked everyone to share reasons worth celebrating, which ranged from marriage, getting into graduate school, a baby on the way, and even a new car! Sharing this experience with my fellow Project Inspire alumni and friends is something I won’t forget!”





"The eye-opening trip to India exposed me to the developing world and international development in a way I hadn't seen - and I wanted to both learn more and share with future Project Inspire cohorts in advance of their trips. I worked with the CJP team to research and develop content on for a trip participant manual covering international development, ethical engagement and other key topics to serve as a foundation for an even more Inspiring trip experience.”





“Traveling to India with CJP and 13 other young adults from Boston is an experience I will never forget. Mumbai is awash in colors, sounds, sights, and smells - being there is truly a deep sensory experience. Still, it was meeting the people who make such a small Jewish community so vibrant and learning about the inspiring work they do that resonated most deeply. It was a privilege to share their stories at Havurah on the Hill for my follow-up project. I spoke during a Friday night Shabbat service in front of approximately 30 other young people and then we enjoyed dinner together. This project was especially meaningful for two reasons. First, preparing for the talk force me to continue thinking about questions around the meaning of community, Jewish values like tikkun ha’olam, and identity. Second, it allowed me share a unique Jewish story and taught me just how global the Jewish community really is.”





“During our trip, we got to spend time with several members of the Indian Jewish community - from the executive director of the JCC, to our tour guides, to a group of our peers. They shared what it’s like to be part of a 2,000-year-old community that is as culturally Indian as Jewish: to see similarities in Indian and Jewish values, adapt age-old traditions, practice tikkun olam, and wrestle with their connection to the land of Israel. As a former radio reporter, I wanted to bring those stories back to the Boston community. For my follow up project, I created an audio piece that combines the reflections of the Indian Jews we met with the sounds of our trip - songs, prayers, playing with school kids, participant reflections, and the ever-present honk and whir of Mumbai traffic. I hope this soundscape makes listeners feel like they are on-the-ground with us, connecting to the familiar and the new. Listen here!





“My follow-up project was an extension of a powerful highlight from the trip – a conversation about the future of Jewish life and identity in India with Maayan Shapurkar, a Jewish Indian woman who accompanied us during the trip. Her presence enriched our experience with insightful observations on Jewish life in India. I recorded a podcast with Maayan that offered a window into her world as a future leader of the Jewish community in Mumbai. The podcast focuses on contemporary issues concerning Jewish life in the diaspora, relationship to the state of Israel, and more.”