You mentioned : "I was asked if the Bene Israelis were Jewish and if not, were they converts."
I am trying to gather as many learned people as I could find in my mailing
list to bring out some points to establish the identity of the Bene Israel
We are one part of Ten Lost TribesIn 1964 the Israeli Rabbinate declared that the Bene Israel are "full Jews in every respect."
The Bene Israel claim a lineage to the Kohanim, the Israelite priestly class, which claims descent from Aaron, the brother of Moses. In 2002, a DNA test confirmed that the Bene Israel share the same heredity as the Kohanim
At a personal level it is very difficult to find out what the modern
rabbinical schools are teaching their students. The old proverbial statement
is getting old : "I
did not know there were Jews in
I usually answer this question by saying (no insults meant)
: Just because they castedCharlstonHeston
(a white man) in the movie "Ten commandments", does not mean that Moses
was really white. Think about people that lived in the middle east and
roamed in the desert (hot sun, warm weather).
Sure they could not be white, they were tan like me and they also looked more
simpler and down to earth. This was depicted correctly in another
animated movie "The price of
So who REALLY are the Bene Israel?
Although I am skeptical about the Elijah’s chariot on the rock story, many of the facts are true in this documentary–Quest For The Lost Tribesby SimchaJacobovici.
However I am big believer of the prophet Elijah and the ceremony so special and unique only to the Bene Israel called “Malida” where we chant the praises of “EliyahuHannavi”. This we will do whenever we feel something good has happened in our life, or maybe we are undertaking a new accomplishment, or maybe we want to thank God for all that we have or as little as for getting together as a community and to pray for peace and good will with all our life’s challenges.
NEXT YEAR IN MUMBAI
One person’s story – trapped between Islam – Christianity and Judaism.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU
TO ACCEPT US AS TRUE JEWS ?
WITH NO DISCRIMINATION.
WE ARE NOT JUST AN OBJECT OF INTEREST.
WE NEVER QUESTIONED YOUR JEWISH VALIDITY,
SO WHY DO YOU ??????
Send your comments to : email@example.com
Stranger in my own land
Jaan Pehechan Ho
Filmed on Herman and dance directed by him
Immigraton and its IMPACTS ON INDIAN JEWS
Photo courtesy: Bension Benjamin
MainaChawla Singh (fourth from left) with three generations of a Bene Israeli family at a Republic day reception in Herzliyya
A diplomat’s wife traces the footsteps of Indian
are 70,000 Indian Jews missing in action, as it were, in a small country
of seven million? That’s a loaded question in need of an answer. And for
the first time an Indian academic has tried to understand the reasons for
this invisibility. MainaChawla
Singh, a reader of English from
Her circumstances were special, no doubt, giving her the sort of
access that may not have come easily to others. She is the wife of Arun
Singh, who was
Singh didn’t accompany her husband to Tel Aviv at first since she
was on double duty as a mother and teacher back in
“I was quite overwhelmed by the affection and respect towards us
when we travelled to attend their community programmes
even though they had relinquished their Indian citizenship when they chose
to come to
Singh soon realised those social conversations
with the stalwarts of the first generation were “full of fascinating detail”
and offered a win-dow to a new world. She began
researching and found that virtually everything written was about Indian
Jews—the exotic community in
Indian Jews began “aliya” or migration
Poor schools and meagre opportunities
sealed their fate as they remained stuck in those moshavs
or farming communities. Discrimination and derogatory remarks about “dark”
skin or being from a “backward” country were common. The comparatively
gentle demeanour of these migrants, in
a country known for brusqueness, was seen as “submissiveness” and they
were dismissed as not capable of leadership. The Bene Israelis from
Singh began systematic work in 2006, interviewing and collecting
personal narratives, travelling to the infertile
Negev region in the south where the early migrant Jews from
For her research, Singh travelled to the small towns of Ramla and Lod where large numbers of Bene Israelis were settled. “One family led me to another, from town to moshav to kibbutz. I followed leads, called people and set up times to visit them in far-off little sleepy towns like KiryatBialik beyond Haifa and Dimona and Kiryat Gat in the Negev desert,” she recalled.
Her enthusiasm was infectious and the community embraced her totally, sharing rare photographs and rarer moments. Taking “speed notes” and eschewing the use of a tape recorder lest it inhibit her older respondents, Singh did some hundred interviews and attended about fifty community functions, including loud Bollywood extravaganzas organised by second and third generation Indian Israelis. Many of the Bene Israelis still spoke Marathi and Hindi too. The book captures that flavour.
An efficient driver and
Continuing with her dual role, Singh now lives in
John Perry wrote :
Subject: RE: Doubt on
Date: Wednesday, May 5, 2010, 10:08 AM
Yes, Our Indian skin color is definitely nearer to the middle east skin color- the original Israeli color. That inter faith marriages probably did not exist in
By the same argument, this white skin of the European Jews, is it anywhere
near the mid-East color? Should we then conclude that they are not pure
Jews but only a mixed breed?
It is bad enough that some rabbis in
Should we really need to prove ourselves to the authorities ever so often?
My response :
NO you have no need to prove to anybody whether you are Jewish or not, neither will you judge anybody whether they are Jewish or not.
Let us all ask our God to tell us (our internal souls) if we are Jewish or not. If the answer comes to you as YES, then you are Jewish.
Then it is between you and our God what you do, act, behave, follow the customs etc. because believe me, we are not cheating anybody else by ourselves and our God if we pretend to be good Jews and produce mere documentation that gives us the mere recognition to be accepted as Jews in the land of Israel or in our synagogues.
Subject: Re: Doubt on
Date: Wednesday, May 5, 2010, 12:40 AM
This comes up every now and then. Some smart person gets up from his sleep and raises this problem.
This is because...
1.) We were isolated for long time.
2.) Our skin color
3.) Some one wants fame!
4.) Our Indian family names.
Reason we are this way
Our forefather "Abraham" came from today's
Cast system in
Our ansestors adopted "oil-presser's" business,
that's why we were considered "Lower Cast" those days in
Scientific DNA tests on Bene-Israel community was carried out by Dr. Perfet
(I hope name is correct) from
5) Family names are given to us by Britishers to recognize one person to other. These are all names of villages our ancestor settled in. "Kar" behind every family name meaning "From".
American society is different than this for many senturies. They need to prove their puarity!
Daniel Reuben Bamnolkar
Saul Aptekar send this out :
kindly read and check this
Thanks and Regards,
Saul S. Aptekar
Forwarded Message ----
From: Michael S. Bar-Ron
To: Saul Aptekar
Sent: Wed, May 5, 2010 11:44:14 AM
Subject: CORRECTED VERSION: Re. Doubt on Bene
the Name of HaShem, God Eternal
to hear from you, yedidi
-- how are you? You may forward this letter to others so long as
they are warned to read the entire letter carefully, so there will
not be any misunderstandings.
Please spread the link to my web page: http://www.torathmoshe.com/projects/the-bene-yisrael-of-india/
that those who are most likely to question the Jewishness
of the Bene Yisrael are Orthodox rabbis,
these sources are precious. Such rabbis who question your Jewishness
should be asked:
(pillar of the HarediSefaradi
world) and HaRavHaGaonShmuelRozovsky
of blessed memory (former pillar of the Ashkenazi Lithuanian yeshivish
world), former Rosh Yeshivah of YeshivatPonevezh
and main teacher of the current Torah leader RavZalmanNechemiah
too reform or biased that we should not trust their expert opinion as to
who have full halakhic status as Jews?!
the kohen gene haplotype
is important evidence, the argument based on skin color is an ignorant
one. According to genetic research I've read, Ashkenazi Jewish genes
are generally tied to the Levant region (even closely related to Palestinians,
many of whom are descendants of ancient Jewish families that never left
the Land), while the genes of "tan" Sefaradim
are generally more tied to the Bavel region
(not to say we Sefaradim are any less Jewish
than anyone else). Many Ashkenazi Jews such as my mother (as a girl)
turn brown in
even the genetic evidence will hold not water before Orthodox rabbis unless
and until you bring in the opinion of those considered to be the Haredi
giants of the generation, as I have done. Now that I have presented
the actual opinion
of such distinguished Haredi rabbis in
their own handwriting (which is more important for many than
the full acceptance of the Bene Yisrael
without conversion by the Israeli Rabbinate) for all
the world to see, the case should really be closed.
Bear in mind,
please, that I write the following as a long-time champion of the Jewishness
of the Bene Yisrael and as one married
into the community. I write out of love and the deepest respect for
the honorable Indian community, which should be regarded as Jewish beyond
any doubt. Moreover, I do so fully aware of the basic faith in God
and Torah in the heart of nearly every Bene Yisraeli
I've met in Israel and abroad -- however confused many are in regards to
key problem is that anyone who has studied Bene Yisraeli
history knows that, unlike larger ethnic communities, the Indian Jewish
community was ignorant in most areas of Torah for many centuries.
This has created an impression that continues in part, quite frankly, because
of the way most Bene Yisrael continue to
live even in Israel -- how much more so in the lands of the Exile. No
number of letters from rabbis can fully change that impression of the Bene Yisrael
if the majority of the community chooses to live their lives as assimilated
We must all be
reminded that being "officially Jewish" is not merely a status or rank
from which to reap benefits; it is a yoke and a challenge, and must be
lived accordingly. Should the BeneYisrael,
as a community, choose to live as learned, fully-observant Jews for a few
generations, no questions will be asked. Let's ever remember
the golden words of RavAdinSteinzaltz: A
more important question than if your grandparents were Jewish, is if your
grandchildren will be Jewish.
is not politically correct to say, but according to authentic Talmudic halakhah,
even a full convert from
even the prophet Hosea, in the very next chapter, prophecizes
that those who were called "lo `ammi" will be
one day be called "bene El Hhai"
-- children of the Living God. (Hosea
2:1) That will occur when the assimilated repent in full teshuvah,
choosing to live according to our eternal Covenant with the Almighty.
That is not only true for assimilated Jews among the Bene Yisrael,
but the assimilated members of every
honorable ethnic community of our nation. May the day come soon when
our nation stands united "as one man with one heart" to serve HaShem
with one consent, that we should merit to the full Redemption with a rebuilt
Rabbi Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron, Beth MidrashOhel Moshe
Sammy Benjamin wrote :
I have to spend some time to read this carefully and understand what is being said, some of it looks good, but there are some comments that are hard to understand and needs deeper understanding. This will need more time on my part. So I will re-visit it again soon and reply to it.
If anybody else can do so in a diplomatic manner, then it will be appreciated.
I have a feeling I am going to have to respond to this email after I spend the time to understand and research what Rabbi Bar-Ron is stating.
is INDISPUTABLE that we are children of Avraham, Isshak
and Yakov. It is written ALL over in our
Then why am I told that a Jew can only be Jewish if his mother is Jewish. Father does not matter in this determnation ???
Why are we afraid that we will FIND THE TRUTH?
CREDITS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
(In return for using there internet image J)
A Jewish package tour in India
A new Bene Israel Rabbi
Directed by Mathias Mangin, Jonas Parienté
” My statements are true to my knowledge and very heartfelt. They are clean and frank like a little child who speaks his mind and does not bar anything. This trait is what gets me in trouble all the time. I feel sometimes that God is the one who wills that I do this as I would never have the courage to so on my own accord.”
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