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The history of the Jews in India dates back to
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts *Antiquities Antiquities are objects from antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or arti ...

antiquity
.''The Jews of India: A Story of Three Communities''
by Orpa Slapak. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. 2003. p. 27. .
Weil, Shalva. ''India's Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art, and Life-Cycle''. Mumbai: Marg Publications irst published in 2002; 3rd edn. 2009.
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
was one of the first foreign religions to arrive in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
in
recorded history Recorded history or written history is a historical narrative History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the History of writin ...
.
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
n
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jews
are a religious minority which has lived in India since ancient times and they have experienced very sparse instances of
anti-Semitism Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an ...
from the local non-Jewish majority. The better-established ancient Jewish communities have assimilated many of the local traditions through
cultural diffusion In cultural anthropology Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology Anthropology is the Science, scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior, human biology, cultures, and society, societies, in both the present and pas ...
. While some Indian Jews state that their ancestors arrived in India during the time of the Ancient
Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 ''Ya'uda'' 'ia-ú-da-a-a'' arc, 𐤁‬𐤉‬𐤕‬𐤃𐤅‬𐤃 ''Bēyt David, Dāwīḏ'') was an Israelites, Israelite kingdom of the Southern Le ...
, others claim that they are the descendants of Ancient Israel's
Ten Lost Tribes The ten lost tribes were the ten of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that were said to have been Resettlement policy of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, exiled from the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Israel after its conquest by the Neo-Assyrian Emp ...
which arrived earlier. Some Indian Jews claim descent from Ancient Israel's
tribe of Manasseh According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusiv ...
and they are referred to as the
Bnei Menashe The Bnei Menashe ( he, בני מנשה, "Children of Menasseh") are an ethnolinguistic __NOTOC__ Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
. It is estimated that India's Jewish population peaked at around 20,000 in the mid-1940s, but it began to rapidly decline due to its emigration to
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
after Israel's establishment in 1948.


Jewish groups in India

In addition to Jewish expatriates and recent immigrants, there are seven Jewish groups in India: #The
Malabar Malabar may refer to the following : People * Malabars, people originating from the Malabar region of India * Malbars or Malabars, people of Tamil origin in Réunion * Malabar Singh Thapa (fl. from 1994), a Nepalese politician Places * Malab ...

Malabar
component of the
Cochin Jews Cochin Jews (also known as Malabar Jews or Kochinim, from ''Yehudey Kochin'') are the oldest group of History of the Jews in India, Jews in India, with roots that are claimed to date back to the time of King Solomon. The Cochin Jews settled ...

Cochin Jews
, according to
Shalva WeilShalva Weil is a Senior Researcher at The Seymour Fox School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. In 2017, she was GIAN Distinguished Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi. She has researched History of the Jew ...
, claim to have arrived in India together with the Hebrew King
Solomon Solomon (; he, , ), ''Šlēmūn''; : سُلَيْمَان ', also : ' or '; el, Σολομών ''Solomōn''; : Salomon) also called Jedidiah (, ), was, according to the and Christian , a fabulously wealthy and wise monarch of the who suc ...

Solomon
's merchants. The Cochin Jews settled in
Kerala Kerala ( ; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Kerala
as traders. The fair-complexioned component is of European-Jewish descent, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi. # Chennai Jews: The
Spanish and Portuguese Jews Spanish and Portuguese Jews, also called Western Sephardim, Iberian Jews, or Peninsular Jews are a distinctive sub-group of Sephardic Jews Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberi ...
,
Paradesi Jews Paradesi Jews were Jewish people who immigrated to the Indian subcontinent during the 15th and 16th centuries following the expulsion of Jews from Spain. These Sephardic (from Spain and Portugal) immigrants fled forced conversion, persecu ...
and
British Jews British Jews (often referred to collectively as British Jewry or Anglo-Jewry) are British citizens British nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern ...
arrived at
Madras Chennai (, ), also known as Madras (List of renamed Indian cities and states#Tamil Nadu, the official name until 1996), is the capital city of the states and territories of India, Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The state's largest city in area ...
during the 16th century. They were diamond businesspeople and of
Sephardi Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas or Hispanic Jew ...
and
Ashkenazi Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jews, Jewish Jewish diaspora, diaspora population who Coalescent theory, coalesced in the Holy Roman Empire around the end of the first millennium. The traditional diaspora language of Ashkenazi Jews is Yiddish (a Ger ...
heritage. Following expulsion from
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a penin ...

Iberia
in 1492 by the
Alhambra Decree The Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, ...

Alhambra Decree
, a few families of
Sephardic Jews Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas ...
eventually made their way to Madras in the 16th century. They maintained trade connections to Europe, and their language skills were useful. Although the Sephardim mostly spoke Ladino (i.e. Spanish or Judeo-Spanish), in India they learned Tamil and Judeo-Malayalam from the Malabar Jewish.Katz 2000; Koder 1973; Thomas Puthiakunnel 1973. # Nagercoil Jews: The
Syrian Jews Syrian Jews ( he, יהודי סוריה ''Yehudey Surya'', ar, الْيَهُود السُّورِيُّون ''al-Yahūd as-Sūriyyūn'', colloquially called SYs in the United States) are Jews who lived in the region of the modern state of Syria ...
,
Musta'arabi Jews Musta'arabi Jews (Musta'aribun in Arabic, Musta'arabim or (less common) Mista'arvim in Hebrew) are the ancient Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an int ...
were Arab Jews who arrived at
Nagercoil Nagercoil ("Temple of the Nāgas", Nagaraja- Jain Temple) is a city and administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu, India. Situated close to the tip of the Indian peninsula, it lies on an undulating terrain between the W ...

Nagercoil
and
Kanyakumari District Kanyakumari district is one of the 38 list of districts of Tamil Nadu, districts in Tamil Nadu state and the southernmost list of districts in India, district in mainland India. It stands second in terms of population density among the districts ...
in 52 AD along with the arrival of St. Thomas. Most of them were merchants and had also settled around the town of
Thiruvithamcode Thiruvithamcode (also spelled Thiruvithancode, Thiruvithankodu, Thiruvithangodu),തിരുവിതാംകോട്, திருவிதாங்கோடு is a small panchayat town A nagar panchayat (town panchayat; ) or Notifie ...
. By the turn of the 20th century, most of the families made their way to Cochin and eventually migrated to Israel. In their early days, they maintained trade connections to Europe through the nearby ports of Colachal and Thengaipattinam, and their language skills were useful to the Travancore Kings. As historians Rev. Daniel Tyerman and George cited the reason the Jews selecting Nagercoil as their settlement was for the town’s salubrious climate and its significant Christian population. # The Jews of Goa: These were
Sephardic Jews Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian Hebrew, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas ...
from Spain and Portugal who fled to
Goa Goa () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Col ...

Goa
after the commencement of the
Inquisition The Inquisition, in historical ecclesiastical terminology also referred to as the "Holy Inquisition", was a group of institutions within the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1. ...

Inquisition
in those countries. The community consisted mainly of Jews who had falsely converted to Christianity but wanted to continue taking advantage of being Portuguese subjects, instead of emigrating to countries where they could practice Judaism openly (e.g. Morocco, Ottoman Empire). They were the primary targets of the
Goa Inquisition The Goa Inquisition ( pt, Inquisição de Goa) was an extension of the Portuguese Inquisition in Portuguese India. Its objective was to enforce Catholic Orthodoxy and allegiance to the Apostolic See of Rome (Pontifex). The inquisition primarily ...
. As a result, its members fled to parts of India that were not under Portuguese control. # Another branch of the
Bene Israel The Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel", also the "Shanivar Teli" caste (Saturday Oil Presser caste) or "Native Jew Caste") are a community of Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardi ...
community resided in Karachi until the
Partition of India The partition of India was the division of British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcon ...

Partition of India
in 1947, when they fled to India (in particular, to Mumbai). Many of them also moved to Israel. The Jews from the
Sindh Sindh (; sd, سنڌ; ur, , ; historically romanized as Sind) is one of the four provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, ad ...

Sindh
,
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

Punjab
and
Pathan Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghans Afghan (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a s ...

Pathan
areas are often incorrectly called Bani Israel Jews. The Jewish community who used to reside in other parts of what became Pakistan (such as
Lahore Lahore (; pnb, ; ; ur, ; ) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of east ...

Lahore
or
Peshawar Peshawar (; ps, پېښور ; hnd, ; ; ur, ) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its List of cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by population, largest city. It is the List of most populous cities in Pakistan, six ...

Peshawar
) also fled to India in 1947, in a similar manner to the larger Karachi Jewish community. #The
Baghdadi Jews The former communities of Jewish migrants and their descendants from Baghdad and elsewhere in the Middle East are traditionally called Baghdadi Jews or Indo-Iraqi Jews. They settled primarily in the ports and along the trade routes around the In ...
arrived in the city of Surat from Iraq (and other Arab states), Iran and Afghanistan about 250 years ago. #The
Bnei Menashe The Bnei Menashe ( he, בני מנשה, "Children of Menasseh") are an ethnolinguistic __NOTOC__ Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
meaning "Sons of Manassah" in Hebrew, are Mizo and Kuki tribesmen in
Manipur Manipur () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Manipur
and
Mizoram Mizoram () is a state in northeastern India Northeast India (officially North Eastern Region, NER) is the easternmost region of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the ...

Mizoram
who are recent converts to the modern form of Judaism, but claim ancestry reaching back to one of the lost ten tribes of Israel; specifically, one of the sons of Joseph.Weil, Shalva. "Lost Israelites from North-East India: Re-Traditionalisation and Conversion among the Shinlung from the Indo-Burmese Borderlands." ''The Anthropologist'', 2004. 6(3): 219-233. #Similarly, the small
Telugu Telugu may refer to: * Telugu language, a major Dravidian language of India *Telugu people, an ethno-linguistic group of India * Telugu script, used to write the Telugu language ** Telugu (Unicode block), a block of Telugu characters in Unicode S ...
speaking group, the
Bene Ephraim The Bene Ephraim ( he, בני אפריים) ''Bnei Ephraim'' ("Sons of Ephraim"), also called Telugu Jews because they speak Telugu Telugu may refer to: * Telugu language, a major Dravidian language of India *Telugu people, an ethno-linguistic ...
(meaning "Sons of Ephraim" in Hebrew) also claim ancestry from Ephraim, one of the sons of Joseph and a lost tribe of ancient Israel. Also called "Telugu Jews", their observance of modern Judaism dates to 1981. #European Jewish immigrants to India escaping persecution during World War II account for a small portion of Jewish Indians today. From 1938-1947, about 2,000 Jews fled from Europe and sought asylum in India. Over seventy years later, the descendants of these Jewish migrants have made their own Jewish-Indian mixed community and culture within India.


Cochin Jews

The oldest of the Indian Jewish communities was in the erstwhile
Cochin Kingdom Kingdom of Cochin (also known as ''Perumpadappu Swaroopam'', ''Mada-rajyam'', or ''Kuru Swaroopam''; ''Kochi'' or ''Perumpaṭappu''), named after its capital city of Kochi (Cochin in English), was a Medieval India, late medieval kingdom and ...
. The traditional account is that traders of
Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrolog ...

Judea
arrived at Cranganore, an ancient port near Cochin in 562 BC, and that more Jews came as exiles from Israel in the year 70 AD, after the destruction of the
Second Temple The Second Temple (, ), also known in its later years as Herod's Temple, was the reconstructed Jewish holy temple that stood on the Temple Mount The Temple Mount (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , ; "Mount of the House f God, i.e. the Temple in ...

Second Temple
. Many of these Jews' ancestors passed on the account that they settled in India when the Hebrew King Solomon was in power. This was a time that teak wood, ivory, spices, monkeys, and peacocks were popular in trade in Cochin. There is no specific date or reason mentioned as to why they arrived in India, but Hebrew scholars date it to up to around the early Middle Ages. Cochin is a group of small tropical islands filled with markets and many different cultures such as Dutch, Hindu, Jewish, Portuguese, and British. The distinct Jewish community was called
Anjuvannam Anjuvannam (in Tamil language, Tamil and Malayalam, from Persian language, Persian anjuman, and hanjama or hanjamana in Telugu language, Telugu or Kannada or hamyamana) typically refers to a medieval merchant guild, consisting of non-Indian tra ...
. The still-functioning synagogue in Mattancherry belongs to the
Paradesi Jews Paradesi Jews were Jewish people who immigrated to the Indian subcontinent during the 15th and 16th centuries following the expulsion of Jews from Spain. These Sephardic (from Spain and Portugal) immigrants fled forced conversion, persecu ...
, the descendants of
Sephardim Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas or Hispanic Jew ...
that were expelled from Spain in
1492 Year 1492 ( MCDXCII) was a leap year starting on Sunday A leap year starting on Sunday is any year with 366 days (i.e. it includes 29 February) that begins on Sunday, 1 January, and ends on Monday, 31 December. Its dominical letters hence are AG. ...
, although the Jewish community in Mattancherry adjacent to Fort Cochin had only six remaining members as of 2015. Central to the history of the Cochin Jews is their close relationship with Indian rulers, and this was eventually codified on a set of copper plates granting the community special privileges. The date of these plates, known as "Sâsanam", is contentious. The plates themselves provide a date of 379 CE, but in 1925, tradition was setting it as 1069 CE,
Joseph Rabban Joseph Rabban (old Malayalam Old Malayalam, inscriptional language found in Kerala from ''c.'' 9th to ''c.'' 12th century AD, is the earliest attested form of Malayalam language, Malayalam. The language was employed in several official records an ...
by Bhaskara Ravi Varma, the fourth ruler of Maliban granted the copper plates to the Jews. The plates were inscribed with a message stating that the village of Anjuvannam belonged to the Jews and that they were the rightful lords of Anjuvannam and it should remain theirs and be passed on to their Jewish descendants "so long as the world and moon exist". This is the earliest document that shows that the Jews were living in India permanently. It is stored in Cochins main synagogue. The Jews settled in
Kodungallur Kodungallur, , (also English: Cranganore; Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portugu ...
(Cranganore) on the
Malabar Coast The Malabar Coast is a region of the southwestern shoreline of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of South India, southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, e ...

Malabar Coast
, where they traded peacefully, until 1524. The Jewish leader Rabban was granted the rank of prince over the Jews of Cochin, given the rulership and tax revenue of a pocket
principality A principality (or sometimes princedom) can either be a monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political le ...
in
Anjuvannam Anjuvannam (in Tamil language, Tamil and Malayalam, from Persian language, Persian anjuman, and hanjama or hanjamana in Telugu language, Telugu or Kannada or hamyamana) typically refers to a medieval merchant guild, consisting of non-Indian tra ...
, near Cranganore, and rights to seventy-two "free houses". The Hindu king gave permission in perpetuity (or, in the more poetic expression of those days, "as long as the world and moon exist") for Jews to live freely, build
synagogues A synagogue, ', 'house of assembly', or ', "house of prayer"; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches ...
, and own property "without conditions attached". A link back to Rabban, "the king of Shingly" (another name for Cranganore), was a sign of both purity and prestige. Rabban's descendants maintained this distinct community until a chieftainship dispute broke out between two brothers, one of them named Joseph Azar, in the 16th century. The Jews lived peacefully for over a thousand years in Anjuvannam. After the reign of the Rabban's, the Jewish people no longer had the protection of the copper plates. Neighboring princes of Anjuvannam intervened and revoked all privileges that the Jewish people were given. In 1524, the Jews were attacked by the Moors brothers (Muslim Community) on a suspicion that they were tampering with the pepper trade and the homes and synagogues belonging to them were destroyed. The damage was so extensive that when the Portuguese arrived a few years later, only a small amount of impoverished Jews remained. They remained there for 40 more years only to return to their land of Cochin. In Mala, Thrissur District, the Malabar Jews have a Synagogue and a cemetery, as well as in Chennamangalam, Parur and Ernakulam. There are at least seven existing synagogues in Kerala, although not serving their original purpose anymore.


Madras Jews

Jews also settled in soon after its founding in 1640. Most of them were coral merchants from , the Caribbean, London, and Amsterdam who were of Portuguese origin and belonged to the Henriques De Castro, Franco, Paiva or Porto families.
Jacques (Jaime) de Paiva (Pavia) Jacques (Jaime) de Paiva (Pavia, Paivia), a Paradesi Jews, Paradesi Jew of Madras, was a Portuguese Jewish diamond and coral merchant from History of the Jews in Amsterdam, Amsterdam belonging to the Western Sephardim, Amsterdam Sephardic commu ...
, originally from
Amsterdam Amsterdam (, , ) is the Capital of the Netherlands, capital and Municipalities of the Netherlands, most populous city of the Netherlands with a population of 872,680 within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the City Region of Amsterdam, urban ar ...
belonging to Amsterdam Sephardic community, was an early Jewish arrival and the leader of Madras Jewish community. He built the Second
Madras Synagogue The Madras Synagogue is the only synagogue in Tamil Nadu and it was built by Jacques (Jaime) de Paiva (Pavia) a Paradesi Jews, Paradesi Jew of Madras. Madras Synagogue was also known as the Esnoga, or Snoge, ''Esnoga'' is synagogue in Judaeo- ...
and
Jewish Cemetery Chennai The Jewish Cemetery is a cemetery for the Paradesi Jews of Chennai, India. It is located off Lloyd's Road. The cemetery remains the only memoir of the once significant Jewish population of Chennai, which has now almost become extinct. Burials ...
in Peddanaickenpet, which later became the South end of Mint Street.
Jacques (Jaime) de Paiva (Pavia) Jacques (Jaime) de Paiva (Pavia, Paivia), a Paradesi Jews, Paradesi Jew of Madras, was a Portuguese Jewish diamond and coral merchant from History of the Jews in Amsterdam, Amsterdam belonging to the Western Sephardim, Amsterdam Sephardic commu ...
established good relations with those in power and bought several Golconda diamonds mines to source Golconda diamonds. Through his efforts, Jews were permitted to live within Fort St. George. De Paiva died in 1687 after a visit to his mines and was buried in the Jewish cemetery he had established in Peddanaickenpet, which later became the north Mint Street. In 1670, the Portuguese population in Madras numbered around 3000. Before his death he established "The Colony of Jewish Traders of Madraspatam" with Antonio do Porto, Pedro Pereira and Fernando Mendes Henriques. This enabled more Portuguese Jews, from Leghorn, the Caribbean, London and Amsterdam, to settle in Madras. Coral Merchant Street was named after the Jews' business. Three Portuguese Jews were nominated to be aldermen of Madras Corporation. Three - Bartolomeo Rodrigues, Domingo do Porto and Alvaro da Fonseca - also founded the largest trading house in Madras. The large tomb of Rodrigues, who died in Madras in 1692, became a landmark in Peddanaickenpet, but was later destroyed. Samuel de Castro came to Madras from Curaçao and Salomon Franco came from Leghorn. In 1688, there were three Jewish representatives in the Madras Corporation. Most Jewish settlers resided in the Coral Merchants Street in Muthialpet. They also had a Jewish cemetery, cemetery, called
Jewish Cemetery Chennai The Jewish Cemetery is a cemetery for the Paradesi Jews of Chennai, India. It is located off Lloyd's Road. The cemetery remains the only memoir of the once significant Jewish population of Chennai, which has now almost become extinct. Burials ...
in the neighbouring Peddanaickenpet.


Bene Israel

Foreign notices of the
Bene Israel The Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel", also the "Shanivar Teli" caste (Saturday Oil Presser caste) or "Native Jew Caste") are a community of Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardi ...
go back at least to 1768, when Rahabi Ezekiel wrote to a Dutch trading partner that they were widespread in Maharatta Province, and observed two Jewish observances, recital of the Shema and observation of Shabbat rest.Nathan Katz
''Who Are the Jews of India?,''
California University Press, 2000 pp.91ff.
They claim that they descend from 14 Jewish men and women, equally divided by gender, who survived the shipwreck of refugees from persecution or political turmoil, and came ashore at Navagaon near Alibag, 20 miles south of Mumbai, some 17 to 19 centuries ago. They were instructed in the rudiments of normative Judaism by Cochin Jews. Their Jewishness is controversial, and initially was not accepted by the Rabbinate in Israel. Since 1964 however they intermarried throughout Israel and are now considered Israeli and Jewish in all respects. They are divided into sub-castes which do not intermarry: the dark-skinned "Kara" and fair-skinned "Gora." The latter are believed to be lineal descendants of the shipwreck survivors, while the former are considered to descend from concubinage of a male with local women. They were nicknamed the ''shanivār telī'' ("Saturday oil-pressers") by the local population as they abstained from work on Saturdays. Bene Israel communities and synagogues are situated in Pen, India, Pen, Mumbai, Alibag, Pune and Ahmedabad with smaller communities scattered around India. The largest synagogue in Asia outside Israel is in Pune (Ohel David Synagogue). Mumbai had a thriving Bene Israel community until the 1950s to 1960s when many families from the community emigrated to the fledgling state of Israel, where they are known as Hodi'im (Indians). The Bene Israel community has risen to many positions of prominence in Israel. In India itself the Bene Israel community has shrunk considerably with many of the old Synagogues falling into disuse. Unlike many parts of the world, Jews have historically lived in India with relatively little serious anti-Semitism from the local majority populace, the Hindus. However, Jews were persecuted by the Portugal, Portuguese during their control of Goa.


Bombay/Mumbai


South Asian Jews and Baghdadi Jews

The first known Baghdadi Jewish immigrant to India, Joseph Semah, arrived in the port city of Surat in 1730. He and other early immigrants established a synagogue and cemetery in Surat, though most of the city's Jewish community eventually moved to Bombay (Mumbai), where they established a new synagogue and cemetery. They were traders and quickly became one of the most prosperous communities in the city. As philanthropists, some donated their wealth for public building projects. The Sassoon Docks and David Sassoon Library are some of the famous landmarks still standing today. The synagogue in Surat was eventually razed; the cemetery, though in poor condition, can still be seen on the Katargam-Amroli road. One of the graves within is that of Moseh Tobi, buried in 1769, who was described as 'ha-Nasi ha-Zaken' (The Elder Prince) by David Solomon Sassoon in his book ''A History of the Jews in Baghdad'' (Simon Wallenburg Press, 2006, ). Baghdadi Jewish populations spread beyond Bombay to other parts of India, with an important community forming in Calcutta (History of the Jews in Kolkata, Kolkata). Scions of this community did well in trade (particularly jute and tea), and in later years contributed officers to the army. One, Lt-Gen J. F. R. Jacob PVSM, became state governor of Goa (1998–1999), then Punjab (India), Punjab, and later served as administrator of Chandigarh. Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham) became the first ever Femina Miss India, Miss India, in 1947.


Bnei Menashe

The Bnei Menashe are a group of more than 9,000 people from the northeastern Indian states of
Mizoram Mizoram () is a state in northeastern India Northeast India (officially North Eastern Region, NER) is the easternmost region of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the ...

Mizoram
and
Manipur Manipur () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Manipur
who practice a form of biblical Judaism and claim descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. They were originally headhunting, headhunters and animists, and converted to Christianity at the beginning of the 20th century, but began converting to Judaism in the 1970s.


Bene Ephraim

The Bene Ephraim are a small group of
Telugu Telugu may refer to: * Telugu language, a major Dravidian language of India *Telugu people, an ethno-linguistic group of India * Telugu script, used to write the Telugu language ** Telugu (Unicode block), a block of Telugu characters in Unicode S ...
-speaking Jews in eastern Andhra Pradesh whose recorded observance of Judaism, like that of the Bnei Menashe, is quite recent, dating only to 1991. There are a few families in Andhra Pradesh who follow Judaism. Many among them follow the customs of Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox Jews, like wearing long beards by men and using head coverings (men) and hair coverings (women) all the time.


Delhi Jewry

Judaism in Delhi is primarily focused on the expatriate community who work in Delhi, as well as Israeli diplomats and a small local community. In Paharganj, Chabad has set up a synagogue and religious center in a backpacker area regularly visited by Israeli tourists.


Holocaust Refugees

Between 1938 and 1947, roughly 2,000 Jews immigrated from Europe to British India to escape persecution by the Nazi regime. Most of these refugees arrived in India leading into the start of World War II and consequently were better positioned to find employment and shelter than many European Jews who were forced to leave in the midst of war. Jewish refugees in British India were able to secure jobs in the arts and the service industry while a disproportionately large percentage of the migrants found employment in the medical field. Alongside the adoption of various Indian societal practices and customs, these jobs helped Jewish immigrants create a sense of their unique cultural place and identity as Jews within British India. Immigration policy within the British Empire in the late 1930s and early 1940s often complicated Jewish entry into British India. One requirement of wartime migrants entering British India was for their passports to be "valid for return," where British officials could repatriate refugees if they were deemed burdensome. The Anschluss, annexation of Austria in 1938 saw the replacement of Austrian passports with German documents, meaning that Austrian Jews attempting to flee with Austrian passports no longer met British immigration requirements. Still, Jewish aid organizations in India (most prominently the Council for German Jewry and the Jewish Relief Association) helped to form policies that benefited Jewish immigrants and regulated how Jews were resettled in India. Since most Jewish refugees spoke German and originated from Germany or its neighboring countries, British officials and Indian locals often found the migrants indistinguishable from their non-Jewish counterparts. By 1940, many Jewish refugees were suspected of being Nazi sympathizers or agents.


Today

The majority of Indian Jews have "made Aliyah" (migrated) to
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
since the creation of the modern state in 1948. Over 70,000 Indian Jews now live in Israel (over 1% of Israel's total population). Of the remaining 5,000, the largest community is concentrated in Mumbai, where 3,500 have stayed over from the over 30,000 Jews registered there in the 1940s, divided into
Bene Israel The Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel", also the "Shanivar Teli" caste (Saturday Oil Presser caste) or "Native Jew Caste") are a community of Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardi ...
and
Baghdadi Jews The former communities of Jewish migrants and their descendants from Baghdad and elsewhere in the Middle East are traditionally called Baghdadi Jews or Indo-Iraqi Jews. They settled primarily in the ports and along the trade routes around the In ...
, though the Baghdadi Jews refused to recognize the B'nei Israel as Jews, and withheld dispensing charity to them for that reason. There are reminders of Jewish localities in Kerala still left such as Synagogues. The majority of Jews from the old British-Indian capital of Calcutta (Kolkata) have also migrated to Israel over the last six decades.


Notable Jews of Indian descent

*
Joseph Rabban Joseph Rabban (old Malayalam Old Malayalam, inscriptional language found in Kerala from ''c.'' 9th to ''c.'' 12th century AD, is the earliest attested form of Malayalam language, Malayalam. The language was employed in several official records an ...
, the first Israeli king of Kodungallur, Shingly was given copper plates of special grants from the Chera dynasty, Chera ruler Bhaskara Ravivarman II from
Kerala Kerala ( ; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Kerala
* Ezekiel Rahabi (1694–1771), chief Jewish merchant of the Dutch East India Company in Cochin (Kochi) for almost 50 years * Abraham Barak Salem (1882–1967), Cochin Jews, Cochin Jewish Indian nationalist leader * Eli Ben-Menachem (1947- ), Israeli politician * Jacqueline Bhabha (1951- ), lecturer at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government * Ranjit Chaudhry (1955–2020), Bollywood actor * Anil Melwin Machado, Yoga & Kalaripayyattu Master. * David Abraham Cheulkar (1908-1982), Bollywood actor * Isaac David Kehimkar (1957- ), lepidopterist, butterfly expert based in Navi Mumbai. * Reuben David (1912-1989) zoologist * Esther David (March 17, 1945— ), Jewish-Indian author, an artist and a sculptor * Nadira (actress), Nadira (1932–2006), Bollywood actress * Karen David (1979- ), British-Canadian actress * Dr Abraham Erulkar, personal physician to Mahatma Gandhi, father of Lila Erulkar * Lila Irene Clerides, Lila Erulkar, First Lady of Cyprus (1993–2003) and wife of Glafcos Clerides, president of the Republic of Cyprus * Nissim Ezekiel, poet, playwright, editor and art-critic * Lieutenant General J F R Jacob, former Chief of Staff of the Indian Army's Eastern Command, and former Governor of Punjab and Goa * Vice Admiral Benjamin Abraham Samson, Indian Navy Admiral, former Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Flag Officer Commanding Indian Fleet * (Hakham) Ezra Reuben David Barook, a High Priest in Jerusalem in 1856. He travelled to India and settled in Calcutta * Gerry Judah, artist and designer * Ellis Kadoorie and Elly Kadoorie, philanthropists * Horace Kadoorie, philanthropist * Lillian (actress), Lillian, Indian film actress * Samson Kehimkar, musician * Ezekiel Isaac Malekar,
Bene Israel The Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel", also the "Shanivar Teli" caste (Saturday Oil Presser caste) or "Native Jew Caste") are a community of Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardi ...
rabbi * Ruby Myers, Bollywood actress of the 1920s known as Sulochana * Firoza Begum (actress), Firoza Begum, Indian actress born as 'Erin Daniels' * Pearl Padamsee, theatre personality * David and Simon Reuben, businessmen * Lalchanhima Sailo, rabbi and founder of Chhinlung Israel People's Convention * David Sassoon (treasurer), David Sassoon, businessman * Albert Abdullah David Sassoon, British Indian merchant * Sassoon David Sassoon, philanthropist and benefactor of greater Indian Jewish community * Solomon Sopher, Jewish community leader in Mumbai * Pramila (Esther Victoria Abraham), Esther Victoria Abraham, also known as Pramila, first Femina Miss India, Miss India * Fleur Ezekiel - Bene Israel model, chosen as Miss India World in 1959 * Sheila Singh Paul, paediatrician, founder and director of Kalawati Saran Children's Hospital, New Delhi; pioneer in polio vaccination * Ruby Daniel, Israeli author of Cochin Jewish origin * Leela Samson, dancer, choreographer, and actress * Jael Silliman, Baghdadi Indian Jewish author based in Kolkata * Anish Kapoor, Jewish Artist of Indian Descent * Bensiyon Songavkar, Indian cricket, silver medalist at the 2009 Maccabiah Games


See also

*
Bene Ephraim The Bene Ephraim ( he, בני אפריים) ''Bnei Ephraim'' ("Sons of Ephraim"), also called Telugu Jews because they speak Telugu Telugu may refer to: * Telugu language, a major Dravidian language of India *Telugu people, an ethno-linguistic ...
*
Bnei Menashe The Bnei Menashe ( he, בני מנשה, "Children of Menasseh") are an ethnolinguistic __NOTOC__ Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of languag ...
*
Cochin Jews Cochin Jews (also known as Malabar Jews or Kochinim, from ''Yehudey Kochin'') are the oldest group of History of the Jews in India, Jews in India, with roots that are claimed to date back to the time of King Solomon. The Cochin Jews settled ...

Cochin Jews
* Desi Jews * Meshuchrarim *
Paradesi Jews Paradesi Jews were Jewish people who immigrated to the Indian subcontinent during the 15th and 16th centuries following the expulsion of Jews from Spain. These Sephardic (from Spain and Portugal) immigrants fled forced conversion, persecu ...
* Sephardic Jews in India * Christianity in India


Notes


References


Further reading


Aafreedi, Navras Jaat, ed., ''Café Dissensus'', Issue 12: Indian Jewry, January 2015

Aafreedi, Navras Jaat, "Community and Belonging in Indian Jewish Literature"
''Himal Southasian'' (), May 2014

''Asian Jewish Life'' (), Autumn 2010, pp. 31–34.

''Asian Jewish Life'' (), Issue 15, October 2014, pp. 13–16.
Aafreedi, Navras Jaat, "The Attitudes of Lucknow's Muslims towards Jews, Israel and Zionism"
''Café Dissensus'' (), Issue 7, April 15, 2014

''Yedioth Ahronoth'', August 3, 2013

''Yedioth Ahronoth'', May 23, 2013 * ''India's Bene Israel: A Comprehensive Inquiry and Sourcebook'' Isenberg, Shirley Berry; Berkeley: Judah L. Magnes Museum, 1988 * ''Indian Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art and Life-Cycle'' Dr.
Shalva WeilShalva Weil is a Senior Researcher at The Seymour Fox School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. In 2017, she was GIAN Distinguished Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi. She has researched History of the Jew ...
(ed). Mumbai: Marg Publications, 3rd ed. 2009 * ''Indo-Judaic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: A Perspective from the Margin'', Katz N., Chakravarti, R., Sinha, B. M. and Weil, S., New York and Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. 2007 * ''Karmic Passages: Israeli Scholarship on India'', Shulman, D. and Weil, S. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.2008 * ''The Last Jews of Kerala'', Edna Fernandes, Portobello Books, (), 2008.


External links


INDIA
Encyclopaedia Judaica article in Encyclopedia.com
Jews Of India
Encyclopedia of India article in Encyclopedia.com
TheJewsOfIndia.com
Comprehensive website of Jews in India
Bneimenashe.com
Bnei Menashe Jews of North East India

Jewish India
Jewsofindia.org
Jews of India
Indjews.com
Indian synagogues in Israel
Indian Jews
- Jewish Encyclopedia
Bene Israel
- Jewish Encyclopedia
Cochin Jews
- Jewish Encyclopedia
Calcutta Jews
- Jewish Encyclopedia
India Virtual Jewish History Tour
- Jewish Virtual Library
Information on synagogues in Kerala, India
{{Religion in India topics Jewish Indian history,