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Indonesia's Jews mark Passover in low key celebration

Saturday, April 23, 2016 - 01:40

Indonesia's practicing Jews, thought to number less than 200, hope that interfaith events like the one in Jakarta which marked Passover, will help them gain an equal footing in the Muslim majority nation. Mana Rabiee reports.

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The start of Passover, in Jakarta, was a low key, private affair -- in this Muslim-majority nation that officially recognizes six religions -- but not Judaism. There's thought to be less than 200 practicing Jews in the country. Elisheva Wiriaatmadja established a center here to promote understanding of Judaism and says the problems starts with limited interaction between Muslims and Jews. (SOUNDBITE) (English) INDONESIAN JEW ELISHEVA WIRIAATMADJA SAYING: "When they said I hate Jews, Israel, you can't really judge them because they don't actually have met any Jewish at all, many of Indonesians, the vast majority have not." The country's last synagogue was sealed off by Islamic hardlineers a few years ago. But this was the first time in Jakarta Muslim clerics broke Jewish bread with Jews in a Passover ceremony. U.S. Deputy Secretary Of State Antony Blinken was there: (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED STATES DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE, ANTONY BLINKEN SAYING: "Men and women of different faiths gathered to celebrate an ancient Jewish tradition here in the Muslim majority country is a very powerful thing." Passover commemorates the flight of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In Indonesia, where anti-semitism is high, many Jews hide their religious identify by practicing their faith underground -- or claiming they're Christian in their passports. (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) INDONESIAN JEW YUHANES SENGGI SAYING: "We want to be equal. This is our identity, we need to have a faith because this is the basic human right, and our right to connect with God." Their community is small -- but they're hoping events like this will give their faith greater voice in, this, the biggest Muslim nation in the world.

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Indonesia's Jews mark Passover in low key celebration

Saturday, April 23, 2016 - 01:40