| What prompted your decision to leave India for Israel?
The main reasons to leave India were multiple. First of all I always was under a very large shadow of my late father. Secondly the Jewish community was dwindling in India . Thirdly I was just 27-28 years old and felt that I need additional training. In those days I met a young surgeon by the name of Dr. Manoj Mehta who implored me to do something better for myself and attain higher goals. In those days there no further training programs available in India.
I held on to my Indian Passport for 3 years but in those days there was no dual citizenship and then had no way to return. Coming back for a visit was practically very difficult. It was not till the early 1990 that things stated to change.
Going to Israel or any foreign country is a very traumatic experience. In 1979 very little was known about India in Israel. Nothing was taken for granted, the challenges are immense and you have to prove that basically you can perform better than three local persons put together. I passed my entire exams at first attempt though they were in Hebrew.
No doubt, Israel is a targeted nation, and working as a surgeon there is full of challenges. How has it been working in
There was never any racial discrimination to our community in India.
Where in India are your roots?
Our children were born in Israel. We eat Indian food at home, but mildly spiced. We listen to Indian music and see Bollywood movies. Here we are Jews of Indian Origin. We hail from the Bene Israel Community. Our community comes from the villages around Mumbai on the Konkan coast. As per reports we have been around in India for about 2000 years. Our original family name is
I always make it a point to meet with teachers. My parents are buried in the New Jewish Cemetery in
You appear to be a frequent visitor to India. What kind of impressions of the country have you carried back as of late?
India has been changing recently. In 1996, I returned to India for the first time. I felt that India had regressed since I had left. Since the turn of the century, though, slowly and steadily the country has been changing for the better. The airports, shopping malls and new hospital wings as well as renovations to old buildings are stunning. The people are prosperous and living at a higher standard.
I have attended scientific meetings in India. I cherish visiting the Alma Mater where I studied and worked. I find them academically sound and well informed of all the changes occurring in the world.
What are your expectations out of your interactions and engagement with India?
India is marching forward it has a long way to go but it is trying to progress in the right direction. Environmental hygiene is a very major problem and hope that it will be overcome. Once adequate infrastructure is placed I suppose things will change.
We have trained a number of physicians from India in our institution and this time I met four of them. There have been major groups from the AIIMS and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospitals. They underwent training in Trauma management.
Each time an Overseas Indian is recognized in some capacity in India, it must be motivating. Your comments on this…
It is a great honor to recognized by your home country. I was born here and educated here. Being appreciated and then returning to Ahmedabad is rewarding. As if to say, “here you see. I went out to the great world made my mark.” There was no cover of an illustrious father to help me out here. I did it on my own with the blessing of my parents and teachers.