Dont worry. All OK are the few words Jonathan Bhonkar and his wife wait for all day. The short message from their son fighting for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) brings them peace. The Bhonkars, who moved to Israel nearly seven years ago, came to Mumbai hoping to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and renting out their house in Wadala when the war in Israel threw their plans haywire.
“Our wedding anniversary is in November. As I work for the government and we got leave now, we decided to have an early celebration. We were planning to visit Delhi and Jaipur, among other places. We were really looking forward to visiting Rajasthan but the mood changed. We now hope to fly back on October 16,” said Bhonkar, 51, who undertakes safety inspections of ships.
Family moved to Israel when Jewish population dwindled in India
Bhonkar and his family moved to Israel when the Jewish population in India was dwindling. “We wanted to follow Judaism. Over a period of time, many synagogues here became like historical monuments as hardly any Jews were left to attend them. It is only in places like Thane where you see synagogues full,” said Bhonkar.
In Israel, Bhonkar lives in Yavne with his parents who are in their seventies, his wife and three children. While his son works for the IDF, his daughters are still studying. “Yavne is 90 minutes away from the Gaza strip and an hour from Ashkelon and Ashdod where rockets from Gaza have hit,” said Bhonkar who got to know of the strikes shortly after the attack.
“My children called me to inform me about sirens blaring. The mood changed when we saw TV. Every half an hour or an hour I talk to them. It is only my son who we cannot talk to as he is a commando and messages those few words. We wait all day to look at them,” said Bhonkar Life, Bhonkar said, was more luxurious in India. “In Israel you have to do most work yourself unlike here, where you can have help,” said Bhonkar.
But safety and security is something, he said, the family has got used to in the seven years of their stay. “It is not easy but it is part of our life and we have accepted it. Had we known of this happening, we would have not travelled. Now we are just keeping our fingers crossed that flights will not get cancelled and we will reach there,” said Bhonkar.
While Bhonkar is here, the FPJ spoke to a few other Jews whose families have migrated. They said that in the early days of the attack connecting to them was difficult. “My own friends and relatives are safe but we have heard of stories of some people losing a family member,” said a Jew who did not want to be named.