History of Jews in India

Indian Jewry is a very ancient community going back 2000 years which comprises of the Bene - Israel's who constitute a majority, the Cochinis, the Baghdad is from Iraq all of whom are of Sephardic origin.

The Bene-Israel's are the most ancient Jewish Community in India who have lived in harmony with their Indian neighbours and have freely professed and practiced their religion in the ever so accepting Indian population. The Bene-Israel's claim that, their descent from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. According to the belief their ancestors escaped by sea from Israel in the year 175 B.C. from the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and were ship wrecked on the shores of Nowgaon-a village near Alibaug in Raigad District.

Towards the middle of the 16th century there was a gradual influx of the Bene - Israel's into neighbouring Bombay, Pune and Thane district and after that they have spread to other parts of India including Delhi, Gujarat, KolKata and other parts of Maharashtra.

The Bene - Israel's distinguished themselves in the Army, Navy and the Air - Force both prior to and after the independence of India. Among them are to be found Government Officials, Army Generals, Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Writers, Film Artists, Educators, Teachers, Professors, Architects and Social Workers who all together have made up the rich social fabric of this well know Jewish Community.

At the time of Indian Independence in 1947 and with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 the Bene- Israel's who numbered about 25,000 migrates systematically to the state of Israel. Today there are about 5500 Jews in India where the Community can be found in Bombay, Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Thane and the Konkan area. Recently, there is a major influx to the city of Thane whereby 40% of the Jewish Community of India resides in Thane making the Shaar Hashamaim-Gate Of Heaven Synagogue the center of all Jewish Activities.