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2017-11-03 digital edition

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November 3, 2017  RSS feed

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Weekend scholar to share heritage of Jews of India

Rahel Musleah Rahel Musleah Rahel Musleah, award-winning journalist, singer, speaker and educator, will take congregants and guests of all ages on a personal, historic and musical journey to Jewish India as scholar-in-residence at Congregation B’nai Israel of St. Petersburg from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 8-10

Born in Calcutta, the seventh genera- tion of an Indian family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad, Musleah will share the lyrical songs and distinctive customs of her community, complemented by personal anecdotes, memorabilia and authentic photographs.

Throughout the synagogue’s Great Ideas Weekend events, Musleah will introduce the history, music and daily life of Indian Jewish communities and chronicle her own personal journey from India to America with candor, humor and poignancy. Her programs weave a rich tapestry of heritage and culture little-known to most, and offers a compelling legacy of memory for the Indian Jewish communities whose population has dwindled to 5,000 today.

In addition to her programs, Musleah keeps the heritage of the Indian Jewish communities alive through the tours she leads there.

Musleah contributes regularly to Hadassah magazine and numerous other publications. She is the author of several books, including Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah, and Why On This Night? A Haggadah for Family Celebration. Her CD, “Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India,” was named one of the 10 best CDs of 2004 by the New York Jewish Week. She lives in Port Washington, NY.

All events during her visit are free and open to the community unless otherwise noted.

On Friday, Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. there will be Kabbalat Shabbat services focusing on, “Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India.” This will be followed by a vegetarian Indian Shabbat dinner featuring authentic flavors of India without the fire. The cost is $18 per family. RSVP by Friday, Dec. 1 by calling (727) 281-4900 or by emailing

On Saturday, Dec. 9 at 9 a.m., Shabbat services are on “Recreating Community Through Prayer,” featuring a Sephardic-style Torah service followed by Indian kiddush lunch, with salad, latkes and chutneys hosted by the Sisterhood. That evening at 6 p.m., there will be Masala Havdala: Spice & Spirit Young Families PJ Party. Children are encouraged to come dressed in their pajamas as congregants say farewell to Shabbat and make besamim, spice sachets, with fragrant Indian spices.

On Sunday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. there will be minyan followed by an audio-visual presentation and brunch on “Jewish Calcutta Through Music & Memory,” hosted by the Men’s Club. This is free for congregants and members of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Club and $5 for non-members, and an RSVP deadline of Dec. 1. CDs will be available for purchase.

For more information, visit and For more information about Great Ideas Weekend, contact Congregation B’nai Israel at (727) 381- 4900,, or visit

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