(Last Updated on : 11/07/2019)
The Jewish community
in Bombay consist of three distinct sections: the Bene Israel
Jews of Konkan, the Baghdadi Jews of Iraq and the Cochin Jews
of Malabar. Due to the economic opportunities that the city provided, the Jews of Mumbai
started establishing in the region around the 18th century.
History of Jews of Mumbai
The first Jewish community
of Bene Israelis of erstwhile Bombay migrated from the Konkan villages
to the south of Bombay. They are believed to be the descendants of the Jews of Israel, who were shipwrecked off the Konkan coast in the year 175 BCE during the reign of the Greek ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Bene Israelis of Bombay speak the Marathi language
, which is the official language
of the state
In 1730, the first Baghdadi Jew, Joseph Semah, moved to Bombay from Surat
and by the late 1930s, Mumbai had the highest number of Jewish population in India reaching nearly 30,000. Over time, the population of Jews have dwindled and currently there are less than 4,000 Jews living in Mumbai with about 8 synagogues.
Activities of Jews of Mumbai
The Jews of Mumbai have a close tie with the Muslim
community of the city. These two groups have been drawn together as minorities in a Hindu
dominated land and by the similarities of their non- vegetarian diets of Kosher and Halal foods. The international Jewish organization called the ORT, which is an Organization for educational Resources and technological Training, mandates helping impoverished Jews and sells kosher wine, challah, chicken and baked goods. In 2004, the Hazon Eli Foundation for Jewish Life was set up in Thane, Mumbai and taught Torah, Hebrew and Jewish law to the suburban population of Mumbai.
After the establishment of the state of Israel and Indias Independence
, the Jews of Mumbai started to diminish due to immigration.
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