A Pakistani Jew steps cautiously out of the shadows

Marc Goldberg in The Times of Israel:

ScreenHunter_541 Feb. 28 13.03His real name is Faisal Benkhald, though he has recently adopted the Yiddish first name “Fishel.” He was born in Karachi in 1987, the fourth of five children born to a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. Though registered at birth as Muslim, he considers himself Jewish and is now fighting for state recognition of his chosen religion — an apostasy.

As far as the Pakistani authorities are concerned, Fishel is still Faisal, a Muslim. That’s what’s written on his documentation. But he wouldn’t be the only Jewish Pakistani to have a Muslim identity card: The Jews of Pakistan learned to disappear long ago. Some, like Fishel’s parents, registered their children as Muslims to blend in, and all tried to hide.

Except Fishel.

In a series of Twitter exchanges and emails in recent weeks, The Times of Israel explored Fishel’s unique story.

His earliest childhood memories include the aroma of his mother’s challah, baking in the oven every Friday afternoon. Before dusk he would watch her recite blessings over the Shabbat candles.

“When she used to put her hands over her eyes it felt so serene as if she has no worries of worldly life, reciting the blessing welcoming the holy day. Her lovely eyes and smile looking at me are engraved in my memory, I always prayed with her.”

More here.

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