Kiryat Gat (Israel): A Gandhi Circle was inaugurated on Monday at a more prominent junction in Israel’s southern town of Kiryat Gat to mark the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Gandhi roundabout, the first in Israel, was earlier inaugurated in Kiryat Gat in January 2016 to mark 60 years of the establishment of the township.
Kiryat Gat is a small township in the south of Israel with about 3000 Indians from the Bene Israel community living here. They are primarily immigrants from the Mumbai region.
At a ceremony organised at the town’s community hall, Mayor Aviram Dahari called it a “historic day” when people in Israel were showing “respect for a great soul”.
“It’s a historic day. During the last sixty years, Kiryat Gat absorbed Jewish immigratnts from all over the world, while carefully preserving their uniqueness and cultural heritage. The monument of Gandhi here is a sign of respect that we feel here for the Indian community in Kiryat Gat and in the world”, Dahari said.
India’s Ambassador to Israel, Pavan Kapoor, described it as another “landmark event in the relations” between India and Israel.
“It is very special that in the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi the circle is being moved to a more prominent junction. This is something unique in Israel and it is something unique which we hope will be seen in many different forms as part of the India-Israel partnership as we go along”, Kapoor noted congratulating the Indian community members assembled from different parts of the country whom he called a “bridge” between the two countries.
“You talked about the values of Mahatma Gandhi. About truth, about non-violence, peace, compassion, upliftment of everyone, dignity to everyone. In India we have caste and people have been treated differently. He talked about bringing them all to the same level. In the same way with the Jewish people coming from all over it becomes important that everyone is treated equally and is empowered”, the Indian envoy stressed.
“These are values that he talked about which are universal and I am sure that with the kind of monument that you have in Kiryat Gat today, his eternal messages will carry on for times to come”, he emphasised.
The Kiryat Gat municipal officials, Mayor Dahari, Indian Ambassador and the community members also applauded the efforts of an Indian community member, Roger Judah, who has been the driving force behind realising the project which he initiated several years ago.
“It is the first of its kind and certainly a proud moment for all of us”, Judah said.
A special booklet depicting the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi was also circulated in the town.
At the circle, Ambassador Kapoor and Mayor Dahari inaugurated the monument which on the one side has Gandhi’s famous quote, “Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny”.
The other side has a picture of the Mahatma with a quote, “satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment”, inscribed under it.
“It is a symbol of the warm friendship enjoyed between the people of India and Israel. It is a proud moment for us, Indian Jews in Israel, to be honouring a leader whose message remains relevant till today,” Aharon, a community member from Ramle, said.
Students from a near by school also participated in the function. Dahari emphasised that it is also an “educational initiative for local children to learn about other cultures and their greats”.
The ceremony was conducted in Marathi, English and Hebrew with the participation of the Indian Jewish community members.
The Indian embassy has also been organizing a series of functions to commemorate Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
Israel has a street named after Indian great Rabindranath Tagore in Tel Aviv but nothing of the sort so far existed in the name of Gandhi before 2016. The Jewish state’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s hut in the Negev town of Sde Boker though has a photo of Mahatma Gandhi hanging on its wall.