Keeping it in the family

By Gabrielle Briner: The Kumar family’s line of work has given the concept of ‘family business’ a deeper meaning.

Three generations of Kumars have taken care of the Judah Hyam synagogue and Jewish cemetery in New Delhi.

Rejinder is one of the five brothers who comprise the second generation caretakers.

“My birth was here and I’ve been living here for the past 49 years of my life,” Rejinder said.

“My father was working here. He has died but me and my brothers still work here.”

His father, Shiv Cheram Kumar, got the job 70 years ago. Shiv has since passed away, and his family are continuing his caretaking duties.

There are currently 10 Kumars living in the three-room house on the cemetery grounds. Three of the sons live onsite, and each are partnered with children.

“Me, my brothers and my wife do the cleaning and caretaking,” Reijinder said.

“Every Friday night, we help Mr Melakar open the synagogue and run the services.”

The Kumar family are Hindu, yet are not phased by serving a different religion.

“Every God is one now. I’m wearing a cross, but I am Hindu and serve Jewish people,” Rejinder said.

 One of the three dozen headstones on the site.

One of the several dozen headstones in New Delhi’s Jewish cemetery.

The Kumar’s family home is located behind the cemetery.

The Kumar’s family home sits behind the headstones.

Rejinder in the succah, which he decorated for the Jewish holiday Succot.

Rejinder in the succah, which he decorated for the Jewish holiday Succot.

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