India is home to three Jewish communities, the Cochini, the Bene Israel and the Baghdadi, other than the two Judaizing movements that emerged during the second half of the 20th century, the B’nei Menashe and the B’nei Ephraim. Jews have been resident in India for at least a thousand years, and according to some of their own traditions for more than two millennia. While the Bene Israel remained in complete isolation and cut off from the rest of the world Jewry until a religious revival was brought about among them by the Jews from Cochin in the 18th century, the Jews in Cochin not only enjoyed great privileges but also continued to maintain links with Jews across the world for centuries, as revealed by their letters discovered in the Cairo Geniza. The Baghdadis, who came not just from the city of Baghdad but from the entire Middle East between the decades of 1780s and 1830s made significant contribution to India’s commerce and cinema. The lecture tells the stories of these three communities and explains the Jewish exodus from India in spite of the fact that it is the only country where they never faced persecution.
Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History & Civilization, School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Gautam Buddha University, India, currently in Australia as an Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies, University of Sydney, to study the Jews of Indian Origin in Australia. He sits on the editorial boards of the refereed journals Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies and The Social Ion, on the international advisory board of the Asian Jewish Life and the Jerusalem Press Club, and is referee to the Journal of Studies in History & Culture and the Journal of South Asian Studies. He has held fellowships at the Institute of Asian Studies, Brisbane, Australia; Woolf Institute, Cambridge, UK; Tel Aviv University, Israel; and the Centre for Communication & Development Studies, Pune, India, and his lectures have been well received in Australia, Austria, India, Israel, Switzerland, UK and USA. He was a delegate at the Australia India Youth Dialogue in 2014. He has to his credit a number of publications which have been translated into German, Spanish, French, Russian and Turkish and the first ever Holocaust Films Retrospective in South Asia, which he held in 2009 at the universities in Lucknow (India), a major centre of Muslim scholarship.
Further details: http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/cap-events/2015-09-04/indian-jewish-communities
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