Weeklong JDC journey provides connection with subcontinent
By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
Allyson Taylor Schwartz didn’t realize everything she would see when she traveled to India in September with the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
Schwartz expected to see a new country, travel and learn about Jewish life in India. But the Fort Worth resident, who recently moved to Texas from Los Angeles, was surprised how much she was able to learn in just a week.
“Sometimes on a short trip you can miss out and not learn some of the things you should,” she said. “But, the biggest takeaway for me was, we had several young adult members of the Jewish community in India traveling with us, and it allowed us to keep asking questions.
“It created a sense of belonging,” Schwartz added. “To be able to talk to someone and not feel like a tourist. You feel at home for a little bit and you really get to know the people.”
It helped Schwartz better understand life for Jews in India and gave her an expanded look at what it means to be a global citizen.
“They go through many of the same things,” she said. “Many of the same thoughts and worries, things that we have in common that you don’t even think about. I think it’s important that we understand that and it helps give you a better picture of the world we are in.”
Schwartz said India overall was a very interesting culture. The group toured museums, ate traditional Indian food, and watched a traditional martial arts demonstration that dated back to the Middle Ages during the weeklong trip.
“It was busy for sure; it’s one of those trips you wish could have been longer,” Schwartz said. “We saw a lot of things, and I think there was even more we could have seen if we didn’t have to take time to sleep.”
It was also a work trip for the group, but the JDC didn’t make it feel like work as Schwartz and the rest of the travelers helped make connections between Jews in two very different, but similar, countries.
“We talked a lot on the trip about why we were there,” Schwartz said. “What our goals were and how we were connecting with the people over there. We saw one of the oldest active synagogues, visited many from the community and exchanged thoughts and ideas. It really gave new perspective.”
It was an experience that has helped Schwartz’ transition to Texas. After living in California she relocated to Fort Worth last year, and has been working on getting involved with the Jewish community in the area.
“It’s been a soft landing (in Texas),” she said. “The people here are very friendly and the community is one that is very welcoming.”