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 ?
This interaction and participation of Bene Israel families at Baghdadi synagogues for prayers and religious events has led to an acculturation or hybridization of unique or distinct customs and practices from both communities.
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.
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.
Benjamin visited Cincinnati in 1860, he still found Bene Israel an "orthodox congregation" and men and women still seated separately in Bene Jeshurun.
Mumbai has three distinct Jewish communities - Bene Israel Jews, Baghdadi Jews and the Malabar Jews.
Roland's comparison of Indian Bene Israel immigrants in contemporary Israel and the United States; and Ava F.
Their topics include reflections of an American Jewish lawyer on the British Supreme Court ruling invalidating Jewish religious law, ancient priests and modern Jewish identity, conversion in the diaspora and in the modern nation-state, the Bene Israel and the "who is a Jew" controversy in Israel, and the assimilated Jewish community of the Warsaw ghetto in the letters of Wanda Lubelska and Hala Szwambaum.
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.
His mother taught in another school, speaking Marathi, which for centuries had been the language of Bene Israel Jews.