Bene Israel

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Bene Israel


Beni Israel

(both: bā`nē) [Heb.,=sons of Israel], Jewish community of India, living mostly in and near Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Many thousands of others have settled in Israel since 1948. According to their own legend, they are descended from Jews who fled persecutions in Palestine in the 2d cent. B.C. Some scholars believe, however, that they are descended either from Babylonian Jews who migrated for reasons of trade or from Yemenite Jews who fled the persecutions of Mohammad; the latter hypothesis would explain the use of the name Bene Israel, which is found in the Qur'an as a favorable reference to Jews. The Bene Israel are referred to in the travel accounts of Benjamin of Tudela (10th cent.) and Marco Polo (13th cent). When the Bene Israel were rediscovered by Westerners in the late 18th cent. their customs were substantially like those of the Hindus except that they kept the Sabbath and several Jewish festivals and circumcised boys on the eighth day after birth. Wealthy Jews established schools to instruct the Bene Israel in Hebrew and Judaism, and in time their religious practices became similar to those of Jews throughout the world.


See S. Strizower, The Bene Israel of Bombay (1971).

References in periodicals archive ?
She was born in 1960 into the Marathi-speaking Bene Israel Jewish community of Bombay (Mumbai)--a complex Indian Jewish world.
Konkan is a smorgasbord of communities, castes and cooking styles -- from the Bene Israel and the Nawayats of Bhatkal to the Kolis, the Sidis of Ethipian descent and the Samvedi Christians, each have a kitchen that reflects their cultural roots.
For centuries, India has been home to Jews, primarily from three distinct groups: the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israel and the Baghdadi Jews.
They eschewed intermarriage, though some mixing must have occurred, for the Bene Israel look much like the Hindus around them.
Karla Goldman's essay begins with a drawn-out, comical battle over the kashrut of a sheep in Cincinnati's Bene Israel congregation in 1841.
Although the various groups coexisted, the continuous strife between the "white" and "black" Cochin Jews and the tension between the Bene Israel and the Baghdadis in Bombay hampered the development of a cohesive Indian Jewish community.
Among the art acquired at Baroda were works by Jewish artists, most notably the Bene Israel artist Fyzee Rahamin (who also produced several portraits of members of the Gaekwad family) and the Russian Jewish painter in exile Magda Nachman.
His daughter, Shulamith Ezekiel Malekar, an executive with the market research agency IMRB, was getting married under the stars in the Bene Israel tradition with Sharon Pinhas Phalkar, who works with the Nomura Group in Mumbai.
Both the Joseph and Samuels families are descendants of Baghdadi merchants who migrated to India and across Southeast Asia in the 19th century Although some Bene Israel and Cochini Jews from India made it to Burma in the early 1800s, serious Jewish settlement didn't begin until after the British conquered Rangoon in 1852.
there are entries on its film industry, HIV/AIDS problem, and Bene Israel community.
One Saturday morning in 1841, the president of Cincinnati's Bene Israel congregation summoned the members of his vestry together for an emergency and extraordinary Sabbath session.
She describes the local Bene Israel community, concentrated largely in Mumbai, as "feeble, toothless, dying.