HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION STRESSES COMMON LINEAGE OF JEWS AND HINDUS TO SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH LEADERS
DATE: October 20, 2004
Addressing a meeting of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on September 20, 2004, Mihir Meghani, M.D., President, Hindu American Foundation (HAF) (www.hinduamericanfoundation.org), highlighted the common values shared by the two communities and stressed the need for Hindus and Jews to work together to promote understanding, tolerance, and pluralism.
“Both communities are inspired by more than 5000-year-old heritages,” said Dr. Meghani in his address. “Family values, tolerance and acceptance of other religions, cultures, and customs are defining characteristics of the two,” he added.
Detailing some of the critical issues faced by the Hindu community in the United States and in India, Dr. Meghani discussed the increasing population of both Indian and non-Indian heritage Hindus in the United States and their efforts to add their voice to the American mainstream. This was contrasted to the recent census report from India that indicated negative demographic trends for Hindus in India.
“The declining number of Hindus in India owing to a slowed growth rate and dubious methods of conversion to other faiths is a phenomenon that will require careful analysis,” Dr. Meghani noted during his speech. He recognized the potentially similar consequences of demographic shifts faced by Jews in Israel and Hindus in India and the shared risks they face from hostile neighbors with long histories of terrorism.
Highlighting the inconspicuous influence Hindu Americans exercise over the portrayal and academic study of their religion in academia, Dr. Meghani indicated that his community had much to learn from the Jewish community in shaping their own narrative in American society. “The U.S. academia is not sensitive to Hindu concerns,” Dr. Meghani said. He added, “Hindu education is controlled today by a majority of academics who have no faith or abiding respect for the subtleties and traditions of the religion they profess to teach.”
In a letter appreciating Dr. Meghani’s remarks, the AJC Board wrote, “You spelled out the relevant data about the Indian community and filtered in several overviews which gave our Board a portrait of the central issues which are primary for the majority of Hindus and/or Indians.” The letter went on to reemphasize the shared commonalities, perspectives and challenges both communities face.
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HAF is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization not aligned or affiliated with any political entity, party or organization.