August 24, 2020
I met Ben and Dave at a hostel in Amritsar, India while traveling through the region in the spring of 2017. They were complete strangers, but I immediately recognized them as fellow Jews, the first I’d seen in months. We exchanged numbers, and after a few weeks, when we were all back in Mumbai recovering from our respective travels, they invited me to their going away party. It was there I met their best friend from college, a writer from Delhi, who would become my boyfriend for the remainder of my time in Mumbai.
It struck me during our relationship that not only were most of my partner’s college friends from the U.S. Jewish, but that Hindu-Jewish couples were more common than I had initially thought. Judaism is part of the Judeo-Christian tradition that also encompasses Christianity and Islam, and South Asian-origin religions, such as Hinduism and Sikhism, don’t share the same books or stories. According to a 2014 Pew study, 91% of U.S. Hindus and 65% of U.S. Jews were married or living with a partner of the same religion. Yet, these unlikely couples have somehow found their way to each other. Though both groups may have other things in common — from historical upheavals to an emphasis on education — most couples said it was their diasporic bonds that tied them together.