Ambassador Speeches

Address by Ambassador at Hanukkah Celebrations in Capitol Hill, Washington DC

12 December 2019


Namaste and Shalom

Let me start by wishing all our guests today

Chag Urim Sameach

This evening we are here together to celebrate Chanuka, a holiday commemorating the Jewish people's victorious struggle, over 2000 years ago! for independence in its homeland.

Chanuka also commemorates a miracle that occurred during those historic times, when the sacred temple in Jerusalem was lit for 8 days with oil poured from a small jug, that would miraculously be refilled on its own every day.

And so today, in these very different times, for the Jewish people, the Indian people and for people all over the world, we can and should celebrate on these days of Chanuka, the light that has been granted to us. And also remember and pray for those that are still awaiting for their miracle of light.

Today’s event, being organized at this revered institution- the US Capitol Hill- is a testimony to the shared values and beliefs of the people of India, the United States and Israel.

The tradition of celebrating Hanukkah by the Embassy of India, in partnership with our friends from the Jewish community, goes back to 2002. This event celebrates the Jewish heritage linking the people of India with the Jewish diaspora across the globe – a link that goes back thousands of years when the first Jews landed on India’s south-western coastline. Since then, the Jews have flourished, and their traditions and practices have thrived in India.

The Indian Jewish tradition, reflected in the invocation you just heard, is a living embodiment of this shared history. India is one of the few countries with no record of anti-Semitism, either historically or in modern times. It is because Indian society is known for its openness and compassion, embodying the core principle of- “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam”, meaning the world is one family.

Since the upgradation of diplomatic relations in 1992, India-Israel relations have achieved great heights with the first ever visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in 2017. In recent years, relations have seen rapid growth across a broad spectrum of areas and the future of vision of a strong hi-tech partnership as befits two knowledge economies.

The strong bond between India and Israel is also reinforced by the closer partnership of Indian and Jewish communities in the US. Both communities share a deep sense of cultural affinity and friendship which has helped in advancing the India-Israel-US relationship. The four million-strong Indian-American community that you also see represented here – enthusiastic and dedicated Indian-Americans like Dr. Bharat Barai- are playing an increasingly vital role in expanding the numerous connections, making our foreign policy and our relationships with the US and Israel “people-centric”.

The goodwill between our peoples is reflected in the strong bipartisan support for the India-U.S. strategic partnership as well as in the thriving multi-faceted relationship between India and Israel.

I would like to thank the talented artists from the Makela Jewish Young Professionals Group, who will be presenting melodies celebrating Hanukkah. Our heartfelt thanks also to Mr. Nissim Reuben, Assistant Director (Asia), American Jewish Committee for his contribution in organizing this event.

With these words, I once again wish you all a Happy Hanukkah and peace and joy to all.