Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Jews of India

The Christian missionaries couldn’t convert them, but did aid in their scholarship which benefitted the community. A fascinating article on how the culture is resisted, yet absorbs minorities.

“In the 20th century, the Bene Israel Conference (1917-37) and the All India Israelite League (1918-25) became foci of Bene Israel communal development. Both organizations deliberated upon social, religious, educational, and economic matters affecting the community.

At the end of the 1940s, with India’s total population at 350 million, the Bene Israel population in India peaked at an estimated 24,000 to 25,000.

After 1948, many members of the community began emigrating, mainly from the cities, to the new State of Israel. They were motivated by a combination of three equally compelling factors: a sense of Jewish identity, Zionist idealism, and concern over Bene Israel economic prospects in the newly-independent India.

A minority of Bene Israel emigrated to England, the United States, Canada, or Australia. Large-scale emigration from the Villages did not occur until the early 1970s. Since then, the total number of Bene Israel remaining in India–almost all in urban centers–remains fairly stable at around 5,000.”

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