Bene Israel Jews are said to have descended from the Jews who reached India’s West coast in second Century after they fled from persecution in Galilee. They live mostly in Panvel, Ali Baug and Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi and Ahmedabad. They say their ancestors were “Oil-Pressers” in Galil. Those which live in Panvel, Alibaug and Mumbai speak Judae-Marathi and inter-marriages with the local natives have led to their resembling with Marathi people.
Bhagdadi Jews came from Bhagdad. The most famous name among these Jews is that of Sassoon after whom Sassoon docks, Jacob Circle and Hospital are so named. He was a great business man. He also built hospitals in Mumbai and Pune.
The Jews of Cochin are called “Black Jews“. They are said to have arrived in Cranganore for the sake of spice trade in the times of King Solomon of Israel and settled their. They faced attacks from the Moors and shifted to Cochin where Hindu king gave them land to settle. This place is called “Jew Town” Most of these jews have migrated to Israel after the formation of state of Israel. A synagogue was built by them in Cochin which is said to the most beautiful of the synagogues in the world. It has blue Chinese tiles on its floor and no two tiles are said to alike. There are myths associated with these tiles. It is said that if you look deeply in the tiles, they begin to appear like a television screen in which story of one’s life begins to unfold both past and future also. The synagogue was built in 1568.
Some pictures of the synagogue below.
Many Jews in India achieved great prominence. Some famous names are given below:
- Sassoon : Business man
- Nissim Ezikiel : English Poet.
- David Abraham Cheulkar. : The Film Actor
- Ruby Myers (known as Sulochana), actress
- Bunny Reuben, noted film journalist
- Susan Solomon (known as Firoza Begum), actress.
- Abu Abraham : Cartoonist.
- Dr.E.Moses: Mayer of Bombay.
- Dr. Erulkar : Personal physician of Mahatma Gandhi.
- Helen : Film actress.
In the flood caused in the Panvel in the year 2005 during monsoon as the gates of a dam were suddenly opened, the 1849 Beth-El Synagogue was destroyed. Read More about the help rendered by the Jewish community.