Oil Pressers, Alibag, India, 2001
Oil Pressers, Alibag, India, 2001Click to Enlarge
This Jewish family lives in Alibag, India, a small village outside of Mumbai. Many of the Jews from the towns and villages around Mumbai have worked as oil pressers for generations. In fact, they were sometimes known among their non-Jewish neighbors as Shanwar Telis, or “Saturday Oil Pressers,” because they didn’t work on Shabbat. In this picture, you can see some symbols of Jewish life—like the Magen David (Jewish star) and Hamsa (good luck sign in the shape of a hand)—alongside the traditional tools of the oil pressers’ trade.
Jews have lived in India for 2,000 years. Unfortunately, the country’s Jewish community is shrinking. Most of India’s Jews have immigrated to Israel, and only a few thousand are left in the entire country.
וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם–עַל-לְבָבֶךָ. וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם, בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ, וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ.
Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children.
Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.
– Deuteronomy (Devarim) 6:6-7
אַשְׁרֵי, כָּל-יְרֵא יְהוָה– הַהלֵךְ, בִּדְרָכָיו.
יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ, כִּי תֹאכֵל; אַשְׁרֶיךָ, וְטוֹב לָךְ.
אֶשְׁתְּךָ, כְּגֶפֶן פּרִֹיָּה– בְּיַרְכְּתֵי בֵיתֶךָ:
בָּנֶיךָ, כִּשְׁתִלֵי זֵיתִים– סָבִיב, לְשֻׁלְחָנֶךָ.
הִנֵּה כִי-כֵן, יְבֹרַךְ גָּבֶר– יְרֵא יְהוָה.
A song of Ascents.
Happy are all who fear the Lord,
who follow His ways.
You shall enjoy the fruit of your labors;
you shall be happy and you shall prosper.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your sons, like olive saplings around your table.
So shall the man who fears the Lord be blessed.
– Pslams (Tehilim) 128:1-4