Global, Religion

Blogging the Omer, Day 40: Indian economy bringing Jews back to India

Week Six, Day Five
Hod of Yesod
I’ve always thought that the Indian Jewish community was very interesting. I have heard that they and the Chinese are the only two countries who never persecuted their Jews (I have no idea if this is true). So, I have thought it a shame that there were so few Jews remaining there (Actually, I tend to have that feeling about any shrinking Jewish community -IMO a wide variety of community minhagim are to been encouraged, the more the merrier). But it seems that in India, this trend may reverse itself.

Seeing a bright future in their native land, young Indian Jews increasingly are remaining in India, which has the world’s fastest growing major economy after China. India’s 9 percent growth rate in 2007 was four times that of the United States and nearly twice that of Israel.
…Most young Jews are educated in Indian schools where English is the language of instruction and are highly proficient in English and technology. They see their country as a place of opportunity, especially in high-tech jobs and “call centers which pay extremely well,” according to Antony Korenstein, country director of the JDC in India.
…Jews live in the cities where incomes are rising fast to catch up with international standards and reflect a higher standard of living.
With the call centers providing jobs for young adult Jews at night — it’s daytime in the United States — synagogue leaders say it is difficult to attract them to activities. They sleep during the day and are working at night.
…Jews have been a part of the Indian mosaic for more than two millennia. This “land of the Ganges” was known to the Jews of antiquity as well as to those of the Middle Ages. The Talmud contains several references to India.
… India boasts the largest number of indigenous Jews of any country east of Iran.
Not only are young Jews staying in India, a few Jewish families have returned from Israel.

4 thoughts on “Blogging the Omer, Day 40: Indian economy bringing Jews back to India

  1. historical correction – jews were persecuted in both india and china.
    ther are a few ancient stories of attacks in china (datig several hundred years back), and many many stories of attacks in india over the centuries (mainly by muslims)
    also, the sect know as “kaifeng jews” (not officially recognized as jews) have many stories about how and why they went into ther exile/marano-like status. the same holds true for the indians know as “bnei hamenshe”.

  2. [citation needed]?
    Look, the scholarship on Kaifeng Jewry was not that it was lost to anti-Semitism, but to (surprise) assimilation due to the lack of anti-Semitism! I have not heard such “persecution stories” in the depository of Kaifeng history, and certainly not its Jewish history! Also, keep in mind that China (esp. Shanghai) was where many Jews stayed as a REFUGE from anti-Semitism in Russia, Germany, and other parts of Europe!
    Now as for India, I’m sure there were tensions during the years leading up to independence, especially as Jews were favored in the British court and the Muslims were getting more galvanized. But Mumbai, where most of the Jews have been based, has historically been a bastion of tolerance, likely owing to its Hindu domination. I don’t doubt that there were attacks, but not to the degree as you seem no claim.

  3. According to what I have read, and I admit that it is scant, the oldest Jewish communities in India continue to exist in the places where they were established– the oldest being the Jews of Kerala. And at least there, the pogroms mentioned were apparently initiated by the Portuguese who also persecuted the local Christian communities– in part for being too Judaic.

  4. Jews were never persecuted in India by the Hindus of India (who form 81% of the total Indian population). In fact, decades ago, when some Jews of India were leaving for the newly created Israel, they had showed their gratitude to Indians (read: Hindus), as India was the only place where they had lived in peace and freedom.
    Also, there are hardly any known incidents of their persecution in India by Islam (Muslims) or Christians of India. But, unlike with Hindus, there is an underlying hate factor present in these two religious groups against the Jews of the world, incl. of India. A proof of this is the targeting of Jews in the recent Mumbai Islamic terrorist attack.

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