September 29, 2009 – Washington – The Hindu American Foundation has honored AJC “for its work in building bridges between the Jewish and Hindu communities.” The HAF’s Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Advancement of Religious Pluralism was presented to AJC at a dinner reception held at the Library of Congress.
Richard Foltin, AJC’s Director of National and Legislative Affairs, and Nissim Reuben, AJC’s Program Officer on Indian-Jewish and American Relations, accepted the award on behalf of the global advocacy organization.
Foltin praised the HAF, calling the advocacy group working on behalf of the nation’s two million Hindus a valued partner in the struggle against discrimination and persecution.
"We seek a more just world allowing us to promote universalist values even as we work to strengthen the viability of our discrete communities, to be both particularistic and universalistic at the same time,” said Foltin, speaking of values shared by both the Jewish and Hindu faith traditions.
“AJC has stood up when Hindus have been victims of bigotry and discrimination, and HAF has done likewise for Jews,” said Foltin. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with HAF in the cause of religious liberty – on behalf not only of our respective communities but also for all people – for many years to come.”
Reuben, a native of India’s Jewish community, said: “India is perhaps the only country in the world where, in their 2000-year history of exile, Jews never experienced any anti-Semitism. All of the world's faiths – be they Judaism, Christianity or Islam – came to India and became part and parcel of the country. Lying behind this environment of tolerance is the majority Hindu faith's belief: ‘Atithi Devo Bhava - My guest is my G-d’.”