After the Terror

Members of the Jewish community in Mumbai, are shaken, but confident of their place in India

19umb224 (photo credit: AP)
(photo credit: AP)
Cover story in Issue 19, January 5, 2009 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. "Wake up, Mumbai! And stay awake!" reads the stark black and white billboard on Mumbai's elegant Marine Drive, only minutes away from the sites of the November 26th terrorist attacks. "We sure have been woken up. Who would have thought that it would happen here, in Mumbai?" mutters the cab driver, his turban indicating that he is a Sikh, as he honks and curses through the endless, chaotic traffic in this surging, unwieldy city of nearly 19 million people, ranging from the immensely rich to the desperately poor. The coordinated terrorist attacks that began on November 26 and lasted for three full days, during which 188 people were murdered and almost 400 injured, struck a frightening chord in the rhythm of Mumbai. Mumbai, which was known as Bombay until 1995, is the economic and social hub of India, home of the brash and glitzy Hindi mega movie industry, Bollywood, and some of Asia's most elegant hotels. It is India's most cosmopolitan, frenetic, Westernized and self-satisfied city. And it is also India's most multi-religious city - members of dozens of religions live here in relative harmony, much like the branches of a banyan tree, dropping their own roots until the parent trunk is lost in the thicket of later growths. And that, apparently, is what the terrorists, presumably members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure") in Pakistan, wanted to destroy. This isn't the first time that Mumbai has experienced terror. And the death toll in November's attacks isn't even the highest ever. On March 12, 1993, 257 people were killed and 713 were wounded in a series of blasts across the city, apparently in revenge for previous rioting by Hindus against Muslims. And on July 11, 2006, bombs in local trains at seven locations across the city killed over 200 and wounded 890, again a result of Muslim-Hindu conflict. But 26/11, as Mumbaikars have come to refer to the murderous events of late November, was different. This time, the violence wasn't the "usual" Hindu-Muslim violence to which they have become accustomed. This time, the terrorists, by singling out Westerners, tried to cut off the oxygen that fuels this hyper-city. And for the tiny Jewish community of Mumbai, which numbers less than 4,000, 26/11 was especially different. In their three-and-a-half day highly-sophisticated and meticulously organized murderous rampage, the terrorists attacked two hotels, a leading tourist restaurant, two hospitals, a major train station - and, deliberately and decisively, one Jewish center. The Indian Jewish community, some of whom date their presence in India back at least 2,000 years, is the only Jewish community in the world whose identity has never been shaped by persecution or fear. In Mumbai, Jews have lived peacefully with their Hindi and Muslim neighbors for generations. Most Jews speak Maharatti (the local language) as their first language; the men dress in Western clothing and the women wear saris; they eat Indian food and listen to Indian music. Explains Victor David Sassoon, General Manager, in charge of International Media Representation at the Times of India, sitting in an office decorated with Indian and Israeli motifs and pictures, "Just as Sree Krishna had two mothers, we, as Indian Jews, do, too. India is the mother that has cared for us. Israel is the mother that gave us birth." But now, following the attacks, the Jews of Mumbai are suddenly fearful, confused, and ill at ease. The alleyways leading up to the Chabad House, locally known as Nariman House, are narrow, twisting, and confusing. It was in this building that the terrorists killed Chabad emissary Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife, Rivka, who was six months pregnant, and four other Jews who were staying there. The house could not have been chosen by chance. Before it was nearly destroyed by bullet holes, blown-out window frames and massive holes in the ceilings during the three-day terrorist takeover and the abortive rescue attempt, the five-story beige-stucco building was indistinguishable from the other buildings in the cramped, dense compound. The media continues to refer to it as "Nariman House" and this infuriates Rachel Ezra Shirkolkar, 61, a retired civil servant. Dressed in an apricot-orange sari, her jet-black hair pulled back in a long braid, she says forcefully, "'Nariman House' makes it so neutral. They [the terrorists] didn't choose that house just because it was there or by chance. They chose it because Jews lived there. When the terrorists talked on the phone, they called the hostages Yehudi - Jew." Shikolkar had known "Rivki," as Rivka Holzberger was known, quite well. "My daughter is in Singapore, and she reminded me of my daughter. So I feel that I lost my daughter. Rivki was a loving, laughing, smiling and helpful young woman, who was polite to every guest and taught us about our Judaism." Shirkolkar lives quite a distance from here in a building with six other Jewish families, once a common way to live but now a rarity as Jews have spread out to live throughout this megalopolis. On Friday night, as the terrorists still held control of Chabad House, the women had gathered together in her apartment to light the Sabbath candles. "We were watching the scene on TV and they showed Chabad House. The whole house was dark, except for the floor where the Holtzbergs' apartment was, and there was a soft light coming from there. We all saw it on TV. And I thought, maybe Rivki is lighting candles, too. Maybe she is safe. We prayed. But God didn't answer our prayers at all. I don't know why. Now I know that she was already dead by then." The neighborhood in which she lives, and where she has lived most of her life, is rapidly becoming predominantly Muslim. Muslims make up approximately 12-13 percent of the population of India, but given that India's total population exceeds 1 billion, even this minority percentage makes India the country with the second largest Muslim population in the world (after Indonesia.) "I think that we will continue to have good relations with our Muslim neighbors," Shirkolkar says decisively. "We always have, for generations and generations." A dark-bearded elderly man, wearing a long white robe and a traditional Muslim head-covering, leads visitors along Mohammed Shahid Road, in the Agripada neighborhood, a densely populated Muslim section of Mumbai, to what he calls "the Jewish house" - the Magen Hassidim Synagogue, one of the largest in the city. Like many of the synagogues, Magen Hassidim is located in a compound of several buildings, surrounding an unpaved courtyard-parking lot. In the early winter heat, Muslim families, the women veiled and wearing traditional dresses, the men in long, white robes, congregate outside the synagogue and Muslim families live in the buildings adjacent to it. The imposing exterior of the massive building, built in 1904 in a colonial style, is painted in a mauve color against a background of white marble. Wide stairs lead to the main sanctuary, with its dark wood benches, heavy wooden doors, and brass poles surrounding the bima, located towards the center. The massive crystal chandeliers have been electrified. Upstairs, in a building off to the side of the synagogue, a dozen men, the Mumbai representatives of the Indian Jewish Federation (IJF), a national umbrella organization, are conducting what they insist is a previously scheduled meeting. But first they heatedly talk about 26/11. There is little new to say, and the men all agree with each other, but each one says his piece. The tearing apart of their formerly seamless Indian-Jewish identity has been traumatic. "A tradition that has lasted for thousands of years has been broken - for the first time in Indian history, Jews were targeted as Jews," says Jonathan Solomon, a prominent lawyer. "None of the Jewish people killed at the Chabad House were Indian citizens, but they were Jews." Rabbi Gavriel, as members of the community had called the Lubavitch emissary to Mumbai, had regularly conducted Sabbath and holiday services at another house of worship, the imposing Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue, built in 1883 and located in the central financial district of Fort. With its beautiful turquoise façade and high stained-glass windows that cast a rose tint throughout the massive interior, Knesset Eliyahoo, built in 1883, is one of Mumbai's largest and best-maintained synagogues, often drawing 60 or more worshippers on a Shabbat morning. Solomon, a self-described secular Jew, says that he, like most members of the Jewish community, had not been involved with Chabad House and had not known the ultra-Orthodox hasidic Holzbergs. But he attended the community's memorial service for them and says that in the future, when Chabad House reestablishes itself somewhere in the city, he will make it a point to visit and to be involved. "It is important to show our solidarity," he says. Members of the Jewish community, says Abraham Samson Mhedekar, 55, president of both the Magen Hassidim Synagogue and the IJF, helped the Israeli consulate staff during and after the attacks to care for the orphaned child, Moshe. He points out that when the authorities wanted to perform autopsies on the victims, "members of the Jewish community acted as liaisons, to explain to the Indians that this was not acceptable for religious reasons." "We all feel so close to Israel, and so united as Jews, that it doesn't matter if the Chabad House was attacked because they were Israelis or because they were Jews. It's the same thing to me," says Noel Jacobs, an accountant and active member of the Progressive (Reform) Jewish congregation, which has several hundred members, in Mumbai. "I have always thought of myself as an Indian first and a Jew second, but still in a way that was actually inseparable." The sound of a muezzin calling the faithful Muslims to prayer streams in through the open windows. Jacobs smiles knowingly. "This is part of the background of sounds that we are used to here in Mumbai, where there are so many different religions." And Mhedekar adds, "These barbaric acts won't disrupt our good relations with our Muslim neighbors. Muslims live here in this compound. The caretaker of the synagogue is a Muslim. It has always been this way." Like most Mumbaikars, Mhedekar attributes the attacks to outside influences. "Jews have always been treated with love and affection by everyone in Mumbai, especially by the Muslims," he says. "There are outside influences that are trying to destroy our life here. They are trying to create envy and fanaticism among the Muslims here." "The average Muslim and the average Jew will continue to get along," says Sassoon. "We have a commonality of customs, traditions and habits. Our way of life is similar and we are both non-idol worshiping religions. And most of our synagogues are in Muslim communities. This may seem strange in Israel or America, but it's always been like that for us here. It is the outsiders, the fanatics from other countries, that infiltrate into our country and cause these disruptions." But at the same time, Jews are forced to face a persistent, terrifying fact: The terrorists must have had help within Mumbai, especially to help them target and locate the Chabad House. "It is frightening to think that there is someone here in Mumbai, someone we trusted, who gave them instructions. Some who knows our houses, our schools, our synagogues," says Yael Jhirad, 41, a tour guide and active member of the Jewish community. Israeli sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledge that officials from the Israeli consulate are discreetly advising members of the Jewish community to help them set up security systems for the synagogues and other Jewish institutions. But while they recognize the need for such security, the Jews are also concerned that prominently increased security measures might actually exacerbate their vulnerability. "We are in a dilemma," says Jacobs. Our synagogues and institutions are surrounded by Muslims. If we show them that we are worried, then they may perceive us as a threat," says Jacobs, alluding to the Muslims' fear of living next to institutions that may be targeted by terrorists. "But if we don't worry and don't increase security, we will remain vulnerable." Indeed, several meters from Chabad House, which police have cordoned off, locals and tourists come to pray, gawk, and take pictures. An apparently young Muslim woman, her face heavily veiled and wearing a traditional, shapeless full black dress, gives her name only as Shabana, clicks her tongue and shakes her head. "So sad, so sad. The lady with the sweet little boy," she says, referring to Rivka Holtzberg as she points to the ruined building. "They were nice. Why would anyone want to hurt her? Because she was Jewish? So what? I am Muslim." But as she refuses to give her full name or any other identification, she adds, "It's not that I have anything against Jews. But now I am frightened by my Jewish neighbors - no, not by them, actually, but by the bad people who want to attack them - and could hurt others, like my family, at the same time. A local man was killed here - he wasn't part of the conflict, he was just caught in the crossfire. We will be put in danger only because there are Jews living here. That isn't fair to us, either." The history of the Jews of Mumbai is the history of two major communities - the Bene Israel Jews (not connected to the Bene Menashe of northern India, who have only recently embraced modern Judaism) and the Baghdadi Jews. According to Bene Israel legend, a ship bearing Israelite travelers sunk off the Konkan coast of western India in 175 BCE. The seven men and seven women who survived began Jewish life in India. The first members of the Bene Israel community moved from the Konkan villages south of Bombay to the growing city in the mid-18th century. At about the same time, the first "Baghdadi Jews" began to move in, too. The Baghdadis, Jewish merchants from Iraq, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, quickly established themselves as leading businessmen, with textile mills and profitable international trading companies. The Sassoon dynasty was the most prominent Baghdadi family in Mumbai. Their philanthropy is famous, and they constructed synagogues, libraries, cultural institutions, schools and hospitals, most of which served then and continue to serve Jews and non-Jews alike. Members of the Sassoon dynasty also financed the construction of numerous city landmarks, including the well-known, magnificent Flora Fountain and the Sassoon Docks, near Colaba, where the terrorists may have landed in their rubber dinghies. Members of the family were also major donors to the Gateway of India, Mumbai's most famous landmark, constructed at water's edge to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, just a few steps away from the still-smoldering, still imposing Taj Mahal Hotel. At its height, in the early 20th century, the Jewish community throughout India numbered some 65,000. By the time of Indian independence from British colonial rule, in 1947, the community had dwindled to some 25,000, as Jews emigrated, primarily to the United States, in search of better economic opportunities. After the establishment of the State of Israel, in 1948, large numbers of Jews emigrated to the Jewish state. Today, almost every Jewish family in Mumbai has at least one or two close relatives who now live in Israel. Today, there are less than 5,000 Jews in all of India, the vast majority of them in Mumbai. Of these, only about 200 are Baghdadis, while the remainder are Bene Israel. The tides of emigration slowed down, however, as economic prospects improved. By the 1990s, while over half of the population of Mumbai continued to live in slums or on the streets, others began to enjoy Mumbai's miracle boom, which offered seemingly unlimited economic opportunities and fast-paced, Western-oriented modernity. The Jews, with their superior education and fluent English, were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the economic changes. Many have grown wealthy with the city. In Mumbai, even the ubiquitous Israeli-owned restaurant, found in every third world city - here's it's called Moshe's - isn't a falafel joint, but a chain of upscale restaurants, located in prime shopping locations that serves dishes like carrot marzipan and blueberry cheese cake. (The local falafel joint is actually an Indian-owned franchise.) The city suffers from all the problems of too-fast development, including crumbling infrastructure, civic mismanagement, and widespread corruption. But the promise of wealth draws thousands into the city each day, and the Jews are staying. Some are even coming back from Israel. The Jewish community, undeterred by fear or social restrictions, has spread throughout the vast city, especially into the northern suburbs. Like so many small Jewish communities throughout the world, there are internal tensions, especially over the vast, community-owned trusts and properties worth fortunes in a city where rents can be as high, or higher, than those in major European or American cities. And there is still some residual friction between the Baghdadi Jews, who are fairer skinned and never adopted the Indian style of clothing, and the indigenous Bene Israel. But the Baghdadi community is so small that these tensions are increasingly insignificant. Most members of the community are traditional (they tend to reject the term Orthodox, which they feel is irrelevant to their historical experiences) or Reform and affiliated with the World Union of Progressive Jewry. Despite this first terror attack in India that targeted Jews, none of the members of the community interviewed expressed any desire to leave Mumbai. "I would never live anywhere else," says Sassoon, echoing sentiments expressed by many. "I love my city - its total cosmopolitan character, the freedom, the lack of commercialization even though this is India's major business center. The pace, the diversity, the history - this is my city." But as Mumbai has progressed, some Jews have been left behind financially, with no way to cope with the demands of heightened urbanity. And many elderly Jews have been left alone, as their children left for Israel in the years that preceded the boom. "Today, we have to deal with our dwindling community," says Jacobs. "We have to make sure that we pass on our traditions and educate our youth, so that we will not disappear through lack of knowledge or intermarriage." Although the Jewish community did not dwindle due to persecution or adversity, the 11 synagogues of Mumbai exude a certain sadness, as if they themselves were remembering their former glory and vibrancy. A tree is growing out of the clock tower of the magnificent Magen David synagogue in the Byculla neighborhood. The façade is turquoise blue, with imposing front pillars. Bamboo scaffolding surrounds the structure, but no work is in evidence. The unarmed, elderly guard at the entrance, who speaks no English, is anxious to show visitors the sanctuary and the Torah scrolls in the Holy Ark - but points to a sign warning that picture-taking costs 100 rupees (about $2). The long interior, once elegant with its marble plaques, frescoes depicting figs and grapevines and high neo-colonial columns, is now dusty and the paint is chipping. Swallows swoop through the ceiling beams, while crows caw aggressively outside. One marble plaque, in English, notes that "this stone is set as a monument to bear a sign that this house is called the house of prayer, erected at the expense of David Sassoon, Esq. Completed 5621 - 1861." Another plaque informs visitors that as the building became "insufficient to accommodate the increasing Jewish congregation, it was enlarged and renovated by Sir Jacob E. Sassoon, in 5670 - 1910. Yet a third plaque reveals that Eugene Schildkraut, of Great Neck, N.Y., donated the ceiling lights in 5717 - 1956. On the bulletin board in the entrance, there are photographs of Israeli politician Eli Yishai, head of the Shas party, who as deputy prime minister and minister of industry, trade and labor, visited Magen David in 2006, posted next to a colorful El Al calendar from the same year. Like Magen Hassidim, Magen David is located in a compound, set off from a busy street by an unlocked gate. The Jacob Sassoon school is also on the grounds; once dedicated to the study of Torah, its student population is now mostly Muslim. As the Jewish population dwindled, numerous once-Jewish schools have had to accept a broader population. Behind the synagogue, the E.E.E. Sassoon Trust maintains a small guest house for Jewish travelers. On Shabbat mornings, after services that are attended by 20 or so men are concluded, the "Hadassah Ladies Group" meets in an ante-room of the synagogue. The 10 or so women, most of them elderly, come from all over the city to this synagogue, which is centrally located for them. They sit around a large table covered with a colorful vinyl tablecloth and take turns reading from Bibles and books of Psalms transliterated phonetically into Maharatti, so they can pronounce the Hebrew words, but most of them do not understand what they are saying. They also giggle a lot, joking about families, husbands, children and grandchildren and shaking their heads for emphasis in a characteristically Indian way and chiding each other affectionately. Says Sofia Malyankar, 71, a retired bank clerk and an unofficial leader of the group, dressed in a red sari with heavy gold earrings, "This is our study group. We come and read in our own language, and some of the women know enough to translate some of the stories, so we can learn. And we are friends now - we all come from different parts of the city, and many of us are alone for most of the week - and many of our children live in Israel with our grandchildren. So it's good that we get together and help each other if we need something, or if one of us is sick. This is our way to be Jewish." Towards the end, as a group, they approach the Holy Ark and touch the Torah Scrolls reverently. Then they return to their table and treat themselves to the kiddush (festive snack) that they have brought for themselves - sugar cookies, sweet handfuls of cardamom and caraway seeds, and jackfruit, a pineapple-like fruit grown in the region. When asked, the women, like the others, say that they are comfortable in Mumbai, and that the recent events, frightening as they were, will not make them leave and will not harm their relationships with their Muslim neighbors. Says Daina Samson Corliker, 73, a retired clerk who lives not far away, "India is the only country where Jews have never suffered because of our religion. As a woman, I think that I have a particularly important role - I learned to read Hebrew as a child, so I can teach the other women. Our religion is still alive because of women and Shabbat and we will continue that way." And then, to conclude, the women stand at attention and sing Hatikvah. International Jewish Organi-zations such as the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) have established programs in Mumbai, providing cash assistance, medical programs and medication to poorer and elderly Jews, life-cycle and holiday celebrations for the community, and leadership training for young Indian Jews. The JDC also brings in Jewish Service Corps volunteers for two years to provide informal Jewish education programs. At the Evelyn Peters Jewish Community Center, the JDC has organized a meeting room for young people, a popular computer facility and a library that hosts a religious school program for children. Teens and young adults meet together in the "Pioneer Group." They are a savvy group, secure in their future in Mumbai despite the events of 26/11. Their parents made it into middle or upper middle class status by owning businesses, directing companies, or working in the professions, especially as lawyers, and the civil service. But for these kids, information technology, software, and international finance in one of the world's fasting growing economies entice them in ways that their parents could not even imagine. They say they are close to Israel, visit frequently, and follow what happens. But they do not intend to leave Mumbai, either. Netasha Joseph, 20, is a strikingly pretty young woman. A student in psychology and literature at Mumbai University, dressed in low-cut jeans and a T-shirt, she hopes to design high-class jewelry in the future. She describes herself as "simultaneously very Indian and very Jewish. I wear saris, but I prefer jeans because you have to hold up saris with safety pins and I don't have the patience." Joseph edits a new Jewish magazine for teens, Kol India, sponsored by the JDC. She talks blithely about the many Jewish activities in Mumbai: the Khai Fest, a Hanukkah festival sponsored by the Jewish Youth Pioneers; communal Passover Seders in the city and elsewhere; children's day camps; and youth leadership programs. "Being Jewish in India is cool," she says. "I always thought of myself as Jewish, and then I went on Birthright [a subsidized trip to Israel] and I became even more of a Jew. I'm not religious, but I want to be part of the Jewish tikkun olam (repairing the world), and that's why I come to the youth group. But I love Mumbai, too - the night life, the people, the pace. This will always be my home, although I'd like to learn more about the prayers and about my Jewish heritage, I already know that, as a feminist, I can't agree with the patriarchy in Judaism and in Indian culture." Nethaniel Jhirad, 17, a serious-looking commerce student in the 12th grade, is proficient in five languages, loves classical music, plays the viola - and even once met Indian-born Zubin Mehta, musical director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. "I'm proud to be a Jew in India. I wear a kippah and I'm proud to publicize my Judaism - being Jewish is being different among so many different peoples. All Indians are 'different.' So we are simultaneously Indian and connected to the whole Jewish world. If anything bad happens to Israel - I feel sad. When good things happen, I am delighted. I am an Indian and an Israeli patriot." He continues, "I put on tefillin every morning, because as a Jew, I must express my Jewishness in my daily life. Most of my friends aren't Jewish. And that's one of the best things - we all wish each other a happy New Year three times a year - the Hindu new year, the Christian new year, and the Jewish new year. And we all greet the Muslims on their holidays, too. "But the attacks tried to fragment Mumbai, by selecting one group - our group. By attacking one set of Jews - Israelis - they attacked all of us. But I know that I will continue to feel at home in Mumbai. I will always love Mumbai's hospitality and warmth." But first, Jhirad says, he will travel and, maybe, live in Israel for a while. He wants to study international commerce, "and both Israel and Mumbai are good starting points for that," he says. The terrorist attacks, says Sassoon, will serve to reinforce India's Western orientation and commercial and security connections with Israel. "India was always afraid of the Muslim boycott, and that's why it took it so long to recognize Israel," he explains, alluding to the fact that India only established formal diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. "But it is now clear that buttering them up has not gotten us anywhere, so we might as well realize who our true friends are. The Arabs will side with the Arabs - it is as though we are clapping with one hand. India is a traditionally peace-loving country, but we should welcome assistance from the United States and Israel - we must rid ourselves of these terrorist camps - too many people are living in fear." Although both governments decline to be specific, unofficial estimates indicate that arms deals with India have earned Israel some $5 b. over the past five years. And since Israel doesn't impose political conditions on the use of the weapons against Kashmiri insurgents or regional enemies, such as Pakistan and China, and since Israel is reported to have also helped with training and equipment for fighting terrorism - the Indians are, as expected, quite pleased with the arrangements. Most Indian Jews, like most Indians, are taking a belligerent stand towards Pakistan, where the terrorists are assumed to have trained and grouped. "India has never attacked another country unprovoked," observes Yael Jhirad. "We have never gone to war against any other country. Never! But now it's time to change that. And that is very sad. That is something else that the terrorists destroyed. As Indians and as Jews, we have been rudely woken up. And we will have to respond, together with our allies, the United States and Israel." And the leaders of the Jewish community will now demand official minority status, Sassoon says. "We had not pushed for it before, because the Indian government contended that there are too few Jews here to grant us minority status. "Now they will have to. If foreign countries are looking at Indian Jews as a separate entity, then the Indian government must also." Official minority status confers a series of benefits, including affirmative action quotas for admission to universities and government jobs. Most importantly, however, it would require the Indian government to protect and provide security for the Jewish community. Despite the signs warning people to "beware of suspicious objects" and "report suspicious strangers to the authorities," security in Mumbai remains lax. At the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly known as Victoria Station), where the terrorists killed 10 people, there are metal detectors at some of the many entrances - but they are unmanned and, anyway, the alarms couldn't be heard over the noisy din. In front of some official buildings, uniformed guards patrol, armed with bamboo sticks. "What are they going to do - beat the bullets away?" Sassoon asks wryly. Mumbaikars are proud of what they refer to as the "Spirit of Mumbai" - the get-back-up spirit that had the trains running in 2006 just hours after the bombs went off. The Leopold Café, one of the sites attacked and popular with tourists, had already reopened days after the attack. And the extravagant Oberoi hotel is expected to open within a few weeks, although it will take months before the Taj Mahal Hotel will be fully functional. Storefronts damaged by the shootouts have been replaced and along Colaba Causeway, the open street market just past the Taj Mahal, business is roaring as usual. Mumbaikars move on quickly, pulled by the surge of the city. But, Sassoon says, "this time, something is different. There's a lull in enjoyment, in the carefree atmosphere. We all have to wake up somehow to a new reality. The Jews have to wake up, too - we're just not sure to what." • Cover story in Issue 19, January 5, 2009 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.