Who Are the Jews of India?

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University of California Press, Nov 18, 2000 - Religion - 220 pages
Of all the Diaspora communities, the Jews of India are among the least known and most interesting. This readable study, full of vivid details of everyday life, looks in depth at the religious life of the Jewish community in Cochin, the Bene Israel from the remote Konkan coast near Bombay, and the Baghdadi Jews, who migrated to Indian port cities and flourished under the British Raj. Who Are the Jews of India? is the first integrated, comprehensive work available on all three of India's Jewish communities.

Using an interdisciplinary approach, Nathan Katz brings together methods and insights from religious studies, ritual studies, anthropology, history, linguistics, and folklore, as he discusses the strategies each community developed to maintain its Jewish identity. Based on extensive fieldwork throughout India, as well as close reading of historical documents, this study provides a striking new understanding of the Jewish Diaspora and of Hindu civilization as a whole.

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I always found that the Hindu Temple rituals of Southern India and those described in the Old Testament about the Jewish Temple rituals are very similar and wondered who inherited those rituals from whom. From the opinions of Aristotle mentioned in passing in this book and the trade connection between the Middle East and India, discussed under various contexts under Jewish history, it is clear the religious philosophy originated from India through sea and land. That also brings in question about the Meccan Gids before islam.  


A Balanced Identity The Jews of Cochin
An Identity Transformed The Bene Israel
An Identity Aloof Baghdadi Jews of the Raj

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Page 5 - Although our religion agree s in many respects with the religion of the literati, from which it differs in a slight degree, yet the main design of it is nothing more than reverence for Heaven, and veneration for ancestors, fidelity to the prince, and obedience to parents, just that which is included in the five human relations, the five constant virtues, with the three principal connections of life.

About the author (2000)

Nathan Katz is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Florida International University, and the author of The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (1993) and editor of Studies of Indian Jewish Identity (1995).

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