About the Book
I photographed the only three synagogues in Mumbai, India; Keneseth Eliyahoo, Magen David, and Magen Hassidim. Very few Jewish people remain in India - 4,000 in Mumbai and 1,000 elsewhere. The majority of the population left when India gained its independence and Israel became a state in 1948. In 2006, "about 20 people attended services, mostly visitors" at the Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue (Schoenberg).
All three synagogues I visited in Mumbai were painted blue either on the exterior, somewhere in the interior, or both. The color blue has several significant meanings in Judaism. The Talmud writes that there should be blue thread on the tzitzith, " 'The blue wool resembles the ocean, the ocean resembles the color of the sky, the sky resembles the purity of the sapphire, and the sapphire resembles the throne of G-d' (Chullin 89). Along similar lines, Israel's leaders get a vision of G-d on His Throne during the revelation at Sinai. The throne room is seen as being paved with 'sapphire brick, like the essence of a clear sky,' (Exodus 24:10) and the Midrash writes that the two tablets themselves were sapphire" (faqs.org).
The synagogues reflect the influence of colonial European and Indian architecture, layout, and decoration of the time.
My original plan in Mumbai was to photograph Israeli tourists visiting India, and the large majority who passed through the Chabad House or Nariman House, as it's called in India. Unfortunately, the Bank of India took the building that the Nariman House occupied, and now, consequently, there is no Chabad community in Mumbai. I photographed the Jewish synagogues instead. My affinity towards my religion, Judaism, has familial cultural and historical heritage. I like being Jewish, but I don't feel it necessary to practice. As long as I marry Jewish and have Jewish babies, then I feel Jewish. Photographing synagogues is my way of practicing Judaism; my way of praying. I think it's my duty to document, so that the images can live on; it's my way of preserving the religion and my heritage.