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A map of India, showing the main areas of Jewish concentration.
Indian Jews are a religious minority of Indiamarker. Judaism was one of the first non-Dharmic religions to arrive in India in recorded history. The better-established ancient communities have assimilated a large number of local traditions through cultural diffusion. The Jewish population in India is hard to estimate since each Jewish community is distinct with different origins; some arrived during the time of the Kingdom of Judah, others are seen by some as descendants of Israel's Ten Lost Tribes. Of the total Jewish population in India, about half live in Manipur and Mizorammarker and a quarter live in the city of Mumbaimarker. Unlike many parts of the world, Jews have historically lived in India without anti-Semitism from Hindus (though they were victims of anti-Semitism by the Portuguesemarker and their Inquisition during their colonial rule in Goa). The Jews settled in Kodungallur (Cranganore) on the Malabar Coast, where they traded peacefully, until 1524 when their quarter was razed by invading Muslims. Jews have held important positions under Indian (Hindu) princes in the past and even after independence from British Rule, have risen to very high positions in government, military and industry. India is recognized as one of the few countries where anti-semitism has not taken place, although Pakistani terrorists killed numerous Jews in the Nariman Housemarker during the Mumbai attack of 26/11.

In addition to Jewish expatriates and recent immigrants, there are five native Jewish communities in Indiamarker:
  1. The Cochin Jews arrived in India 2,500 years ago and settled down in Cochinmarker, Keralamarker as traders.
  2. The Bene Israel arrived in the state of Maharashtramarker 2,100 years ago.
  3. The Baghdadi Jews arrived in the city Mumbai from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, and Arab countries about 250 years ago.
  4. The Bnei Menashe are Mizo and Kuki tribesmen in Manipurmarker and Mizorammarker who claim descent from the tribe of Menasseh.
  5. The Bene Ephraim (also called "Telugu Jews") are a small group who speak Telugu; their observance of Judaism dates to 1981.


Cochin Jews

The oldest of the Indian Jewish communities is in Cochinmarker. Traders from Judeamarker arrived in the city of Cochinmarker, in what is now Keralamarker, in 562 BC. Most Jews, however, came as exiles from Israel in the year 70 C.E. after the destruction of the Second Temple The distinct Jewish community was called Anjuvannam. The still-functioning synagogue in Mattancherrymarker belongs to the Paradesi Jews, the descendants of Sephardim that were expelled from Spain and Holland in 1492.

Bene Israel

The Bene Israel arrived 2,100 years ago after a shipwreck stranded seven Jewish families from Judeamarker at Navagaon near Alibagmarker, just south of Mumbai. The families multiplied and integrated with the local Maharashtrian population adopting their language (Marathi), dress and food. They were nicknamed the shanivār telī ("Saturday oil-pressers") by the local population as they abstained from work on Saturdays which is Judaism's Shabbat.The Bene Israel claim a lineage to the Cohanim, which claims descent from Aaron, the brother of Moses. In 2002, a DNA test confirmed that the Bene Israel share the same heredity as the Cohanim.Bene Israel communities and synagogues are situated in Penmarker, Mumbai, Alibag, Pune and Ahmedabad with smaller communities scattered around India. Mumbai had a thriving Bene Israel community until the 1950's to 1960's when many families from the community emigrated to the fledgeling state of Israel.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.In Mala, Thrissur District, Jews have a cemetry.

Baghdadi Jews

Despite the name, the Baghdadi Jews are not exclusively of Iraqimarker origin: many came from Iranmarker, Afghanistanmarker, Syriamarker, and Yemenmarker as well. These Jews emigrated to Indiamarker around 250 years ago and settled in the city of Bombay (Mumbaimarker). They were traders and quickly became one of the highest earning communities in the city. As philanthropists, some of them donated their wealth to public structures. The David Sassoon Docksmarker and a Sassoon Library are some of the famous landmarks still standing today.

As well as Bombay (Mumbaimarker), Baghdadi Jews spread to other parts of India, with an important community in Calcutta (Kolkatamarker). Scions of this community did well in trade (particularly jute, but also tea) and, in later years, contributed officers to the army. One, Lt-Gen J. F. R. Jacob PVSM, becoming state governor of, first, Goamarker then Punjabmarker and later administrator of Chandigarhmarker.

Bnei Menashe

An estimated 9,000 people in the northeastern Indian states of Mizorammarker and Manipurmarker started practicing halachic Judaism in the 1970s, claiming to be descendants of the Tribe of Manasseh. They have since been recognized by Israel as a lost tribe, and most have left, or plan to leave India and emigrate to Israel after undergoing a conversion to Orthodox Judaism. However, India, under pressure from Christian Missionaries, has since halted conversions to Judaism and exodus to Israel.

Bene Ephraim

The Bene Ephraim are a small group of Telugu-speaking Jews in eastern Andhra Pradeshmarker whose recorded observance of Judaism, like that of the Bnei Menashe, is quite recent, dating only to 1981.

Delhi Jewry

Judaism in Delhi is primarily focused on the expatriate community who work in Delhi, as well Israeli diplomats and a small local community. Jewish life in Delhi centers around the Judah Hyam synagogue, which has services run by Ezekiel Isaac Malekar. In Paharganjmarker, Chabad has set up a synagogue and religious center in a backpacker area regularly visited by Israeli tourists.

Bombay/Mumbai

Today

in India typically have not intermarried with gentiles. In recent years, however, Indian Rabbis such as Ezekiel Isaac Malekar have presided over inter-faith marriage.[107230] The majority of Indian Jews have "made Aliyah" (migrated) to Israelmarker since the creation of the modern state in 1948. A total of 75,000 Indian Jews now live in Israel (over 1% of the nation's total population).

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