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The Jews of India

by Benjamin J Israel

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Though many may be aware of this. India has had resident Jewish communities for more than a millennium. Regular visits by Jewish merchants and sailors from West Asia go back two millennia and more. This book tells the story of the three strands of Indian Jews--the ancient Bene Israel and Cochini Jewish communities and the more recent (18th-20th century) community of West-India Jews, the 'Baghdadis', their inter-relations and interactions, both among themselves and with the Hindu and Muslim communities among which they lived and worked in peace and harmony.

Never numerous, the number of Jews in India has dwindled, especially of the Cochinis and Baghdadis, who are now so few that they find it extremely difficult to maintain any community activity, religious or otherwise, without the support of the Bene Israel of Maharashtra who, though a fraction of their original number, are still numerous enough to sustain a viable community life.

The second part of this book is devoted to this small but surviving India Jewish community, their religious evolution after years of total isolation from all centers of world Jewry, and the surnames they adopted which link them for all time with their ancient village homelands in the coastal Konkan region of Western India. Few though they are, they remain a continuing demonstration of how a miniscule community, long subject to discrimination and persecution elsewhere, could live in India with honor and in complete harmony with its fellow Indians over almost two millennia, in spite of its centuries-long complete isolation as a religious group.


Table of Contents:

Foreword
Foreword by Ezra Kolet to the 1982 edition

THE JEWS OF INDIA
Introduction
Indian Jewish Communities
The Bene Israel
The Cochin Jews
The Baghdadis
Concluding Remarks
Supplement: The Jewish Contribution to India

TWO BENE ISRAEL STUDIES
MAP: Kolaba District
Religious Evolution among the Bene Israel of India since 1750

Appendix: Moses Maimonides and the Bene Israel
Bene Israel Surnames and Their Village Links
Map: Kolaba District--Village

Appendix 1: Bene israel Surnames
Appendix 2: Tahsilwise List of Villages with Populations

(The Once Bene Israel) Habitat
Bibliography
Glossary of Jewish Terms
Index


About the Author:

BENJAMIN J ISRAEL studied in the Elphinston College, Bombay, where he was College Scholar and Dakshina Fellow. A member of the Bombay Philosophical Society, he wrote several papers and reviews for the Society. After retirement, he made a deep study of the Bene Israel community and his knowledge and observations were often drawn upon by scholars and even by Encyclopedia Judaica.

 

 

 

 





Detailed Product Info:

Title: The Jews of India
Author(s): Benjamin J Israel
ISBN: 8185398433
Year of Publication: 2001
Bibliographic Information: Pages:149
Format: Soft Cover
Language: English
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Vedic Society Book Review(What's this?)
Review of The Jews of India
India has one of the most beautiful and ancient Jewish communities. Jews came here first it is said after the destruction of the 2nd temple. Some people say there were Jews in India even before this but this history has been all but forgotten. They have lived peacefully in India and many of the most ancient traditions that have been lost in other Jewish communities are still preserved. In Cochin one of the oldest synagogues in the world is there, it is also one the most beautiful with its hanging lights and ever burning oil lamp. The Aron Kodesh (altar where the torah is kept) is still touched by the congregation as an act of devotion to Hashem. Many of the men remove their shoes before coming in to pray. The traditional melodies of the song are very sweet and carry thousands of years of unbroken tradition, something quite rare to find. Besides the small community in Cochin there are beautiful thriving communities in Bombay and elsewhere in Maharashtar. This book is a magnificent introduction to the Jews of India. India can be proud for protecting and honouring all religions and helping people walk their path in peace.
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