Dating bene israel
When Marco Polo traveled through India in the year 1293, he recorded a surprising encounter in his diaries about meeting Jews there who’d developed a thriving community on India’s southwestern coast.
These early Jewish settlers were likely descended from Jewish traders who came from Yemen in the 700s and were welcomed by the local prince.
David Joseph Pendar wrote India’s first “talkie” picture in 1931, and Jewish women soon stepped into acting roles that were often shunned by Hindu and Muslim women.
Famous “Bollywood” stars such as Sulochana (Ruby Myers), Pramila (Esther Abrahams) and Nadira (Florence Ezekiel Nadira) all came from India’s Jewish community, though few Indians realized these legendary actresses were Jews.
India’s Jewish community is thousands of years old.
Many of the members moved to Bombay and built numerous Bene Israel synagogues there, following the Sephardic liturgy.
There are many synagogues in India, although many no longer function as such and today vary in their levels of preservation.
These buildings dating from the mid-sixteenth through the mid-20th century once served the country's three distinct Jewish groups—the ancient Cochin Jews The Jews of India waited centuries to build their first synagogues, praying in temporary structures or private houses.
The Bene Israel maintain they are descended from a group of Jews – seven men and seven women – who were shipwrecked in the area thousands of years ago.
Some believe they are descendants of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel who fled northern Israel in 721 BCE after the Assyrian invasion; others maintain their ancestors fled King Antiochus (the king who oppressed Jews in Israel during the time of the Hanukkah miracle.) The Bene Israel Jews adopted Hindu names and dress, but kept some of their traditions.