15 May, 2021

Shalom Shabbath,Shalom Bharat

After a difficult half-century of integrating with Israeli society, Indian Jewish immigrants still retain their cultural identity

Shalom Shabbath,Shalom Bharat

Fifty years ago, the founders of Israel called for an "ingathering of Jews" from all over the world. Today, the Indian Jewish immigrants form but one piece of the colourful mosaic of Israeli society. Yet their unique history and heritage sets them apart.

The Jews from Europe arrived in the after -math of the Holocaust. An equal number fled North Africa and the Arab states fearing persecution after the creation of the new state. The Jews from India, however, had never faced discrimination. Some immigrated as pioneers to help build a Jewish state, others to fulfil religious aspirations. But they all came as Indians.

The largest of the Indian Jewish communities, the Bene Israelis, had lived on the western coast of Maharashtra for close to 2,000 years. The Cochin Jews had made Kerala their home for generations. Another group of Jews arrived in India at the end of the 18th century from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Persia and Afghanistan. The Baghdadi Jews mainly inhabited the urban and commercial centres. And as they came to...

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