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Synopsis

The Bene Israel are a small community of Jews that have lived for many centuries on the west coast of India, just south of Bombay, in complete isolation from their co-religionists elsewhere. The studies in this volume range over the history, religious evolution, some social and demographic aspects of the life of the community; its reunification with world Jewry since the eighteenth century; and its strong Indian character, in relation to its assimilation in Israel. The Introduction provides a comprehensive historical account of India’s three Jewish communities the Cochinis, the Bene Israel and the Baghdadis their relations and interactions.As a result of emigration to Israel and the West, the number of Bene Israel in India has dwindled over the last three decade, but enough remain to provide a continuing demonstration of how a miniscule community, long subject to discrimination and persecution elsewhere, can live with honour and in complete harmony with its fellow-Indians of all communities. Whether or not the Bene Israel community survives as a distinct entity in India hereafter,  the significance of its survival for well over a millennium, in spite of its complete isolation as a religious community will continue to have relevance for the study of both Indian society and Jewish social history.

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