Sunday, November 27, 2016

India on My Mind

Putting the New York Times on a vacation hold; see to it that the post office holds mail until further notice; apply for our requisite visas (a complicated task in this case);make sure all accounts are on automatic payment; buy and have new clothes dryer installed (doesn't something always break down just when you need everything in perfect order). These are just a few of the zillion matters to take care of before our trip.

This time we're going to India. When Ted told me about organizing a tour to SE India last year, I told him that he should keep us in mind if he ever decided to do it again. This past spring he asked if we were interested, because he was organizing another journey. I didn't even have to consult with Carol. I knew she'd be up for this adventure.

Ted is an instructor at Concordia University, one of several Lutheran ministers teaching a required course for all undergraduates in World Religions. For the past few years I have been invited to the classes to give a single class session on Judaism, otherwise known as Judaism while standing on one foot. In addition to reading a chapter on Judaism the students come to a Friday night service at Neveh Shalom. While it's not much, I am nevertheless impressed. Here is a school created by the religiously conservative Missouri Lutheran synod that requires all their students to be exposed not just to their brand of traditional Protestantism, but to broaden their exposure to Judaism, Islam, Eastern religions as well as other forms of religious expression.

Ted Engelbrecht speaks Tamil, the most common language of SE India, because as the son of a missionary, he grew up there. Having spent years living in several SE Asian countries, in a recent conversation he confided that he really feels no sense of particular allegiance to any particular nationality. I would suspect it is more his religious faith that grounds him rather than attachment to a particular place.

The tour will be for 13 days with only 10 participants. We are restricted to no more than a carry on each since we will travel together in a small vehicle. That will be challenge and a learning experience for us, because we normally travel with too much. Carol and I are leaving a week before the tour begins and we will stay for somewhat over two weeks after, because it's not every day that you get a chance to go to India.

India is a very big and diverse country. We know even with 5+ weeks, we will only see a piece, but we are very excited. And believe it or not, India has Jews and Jewish history. There is a synagogue in Delhi, Jewish history in Chennai, history and a lone remaining synagogue in Cochin and Jews in Mumbai. Unbelievable!

Please come along vicariously. We depart December 6. My hope is to blog at least every few days.