Feature Stories

Young Leader Brings Jewish Inspiration Home to India

“After each JDC leadership program, I come back home to Mumbai with added enthusiasm to do something in my own community,” says Meirah. “And this keeps us growing.”
“After each JDC leadership program, I come back home to Mumbai with added enthusiasm to do something in my own community,” says Meirah. “And this keeps us growing.”

Hailing from a small and distant Jewish community like India’s, 21-year-old Meirah Bhastekar called JDC’s leadership training programs an opportunity to “discover the global Jewish community and embark upon building an international Jewish identity” with other leaders her age.

Meirah’s own strong Jewish identity began with her family. She fondly recalls Shabbat and holiday services at her grandparents’ home with her cousins, aunts, and uncles. “Being Jewish in a country where almost no one knows who Jews are can be very difficult, but my mom made sure we were always informed and were proud of our culture and tradition.”

And with that pride her family instilled a call to action. “Words like ‘responsibility’ came early to my ears,” she says. Active as a volunteer since 2005 and a graduate of JDC’s youth leadership training sessions, Meirah has been involved in almost every youth program and Jewish Community Center event in Mumbai. She credits her teenage youth group experience with keeping her “connected to my Jewish world” amid the struggles of adolescence and the start of an advertising career.

JDC invited Meirah to take part in a special session of the Buncher Community Leadership Program in Israel designed for the Indian community. She says that in addition to giving her an exhilarating first taste of Israel, “the inspiring program made me look at myself as a Jewish educator.”

Buncher also enhanced Meirah’s commitment to serve her community. She is now secretary of the local Jewish youth movement, which is spearheading a fundraising campaign to aid young people who need help paying for their schooling.

In 2010, Meirah received additional training at JDC’s international Jewish youth camp in Szarvas, Hungary, where she and other leaders from India met counselors from other countries and received key pointers from Jewish educators. Meirah returned from Szarvas “determined to take this experience forward in our community, for our kids’ day camps and youth camps.”

Further enrichment for Meirah and five of her peers came this past January at the Hadracha Training Institute in Turkey. She welcomed this opportunity to explore “an alternative community model that seemed to us the ideal Jewish community”—tightly knit, with a variety of institutions and an abundance of dedicated volunteers.

“After each one of these programs, I come back with added enthusiasm to do something in my own community,” says Meirah. “And this keeps us growing.”

Tags for this story: Youth / Young Adults

Subscribe to our RSS feed: Feature Stories – JDC Around the World

An error occurred during your login.


JDC, Cookies, and Your Privacy

Cookies are small pieces of information sent by our web server for storage on your computer, to be retrieved when you return to this site. We use cookies to allow you faster, more convenient access, and to prevent you from being required to log in on every page of our sites.

For more information on JDC’s use of cookies, read our Privacy Policy.


An Error Occurred


Logging In With One of Your Social Web Site Logins

Instead of trying to remember a bunch of special username/password combinations to log in to different web sites that you visit, you can now link your account on this web site to your account on one (or more) of the social media web sites shown and log in with the same username/password combination that you use on that social web site to log in to our site.

To provide this connection in a secure manner, we use Gigya, a social network connection provider that works behind the scenes to make safe, secure connections between user accounts on different systems, such as popular social media web sites like Facebook and web sites like ours where you are actively involved in social issues and causes.

Each time you log in, Gigya uses special application programming interfaces (APIs) to establish the connection between the sites and validate your username and password. Neither our web site or Gigya receive or store your social network passwords.

In addition to reducing the number of logins you have to remember, connecting your accounts can make it quicker and easier to share an activity or cause you feel passionately about from our web site with your friends on your social web sites.

You can break the connection between your accounts at any time.