Currently, there are 6,000 Jews who reside across the country - a small and tightly knit community. Although small in number the Jewish community in India has made vast contributions to India's rich culture and history.
Narendra Modi Israel visit: Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Israel on Tuesday evening for his historic trip of the Middle Eastern country. Before leaving from India, PM had announced that terrorism and economic relations will be his priority but Prime Minister’s trip is of great importance for the Jewish community of India as well. It is one of the main communities who came to India in search of a home and with their ability to blend with people, they formed a Jewish Indian identity over the years. Currently, there are about 6,000 Jews in India spread across Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala, Gujarat and Delhi.
Even though the community has faced some discrimination in the past, it wasn’t given a minority status. However, with this trip of PM Modi, all that can change. “We look forward to the PM’s visit and hope that a minority status is conferred upon the community. For us, India is our motherland. We are Indians first and Jews second. If Israel is in our hearts, India is in our blood,” Ezekiel Markel, Priest At The Judah Hyam Synagogue In Delhi said.
In India, the Jewish community is divided into three communities: Cochin Jews, the Bene Israeli and the Baghdadi Jews. Out of these, the Cochin Jews were the first ones to arrive in India, close to 50 BCE and settled down in what is now Kerala. According to a report by The Indian Express, this community was received by Chera dynasty, Cheraman Perumal. On the other hand, the Bene Israeli, the largest Jewish group in the country call the area around Maharashtra and Konkan coast their home. The Bene Israeli may have originated from northern Israel and are considered to be one of the ten lost tribes of Israel. It is believed that they reached India around 200 and 400 AD.
Meanwhile, the Baghdadi Jews reached India in mid 18th century. Historically, they had a strong entrepreneurial class in the British port cities of India like Kolkata, Mumbai and Yangon.