» Articles » Jews in Mumbai, India

Jews in Mumbai, India

Mumbai (Bombay until 1995) is the second most populous city in India and the seventh most populous city in the world.

Jews have been settling in the city since the 18th century. The Jewish population of Mumbai consisted of several groups:

• Bene Israel

According to legend, in the 2nd century BC, fleeing the persecution of the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes, a group of Jews left Judea and was shipwrecked off the Konkan coast, 48 km from Mumbai. Until the 18th century, the group lived in isolation. Then community members began to move to Mumbai. The first member of the Bene Israel group, Samuel Divekar, arrived in the city in 1746.

Cochin and Baghdadi Jews living in Mumbai recognized Bene Israel as their own because of the similarity of customs. In 1796, the first Bene Israel synagogue appeared in Mumbai.

• Baghdadi Jews

Jews from the Middle East moved to Mumbai, fleeing the persecution of Duad Pasha, the ruler of the Baghdad Pashalyk. The first Baghdad Jew, Joseph Semakh, arrived in Mumbai in 1730. In the 1820s, the Baghdad Jew David Sassoon came to the city, who founded a business empire in Mumbai and became the leader of the community. Thanks to the Sassoon family, a hospital, docks and the first public library appeared in the city in 1845.

• Cochin (Malabar) Jews

According to various versions, Cochin Jews appeared in India during the time of King Solomon, or after the destruction of the First Temple.

In the 19th century, Persian, Yemeni and Afghan Jews settled in prosperous Mumbai.

Bollywood's first superstar Sulochana (Ruby Myers) was born to Baghdad Jews and has lived in Mumbai for a long time. Pramila (Esther Abraham), the first female producer in the Indian film industry, also resided in Mumbai.

With the Nazis coming to power in Germany, Jews from Europe moved to Mumbai. In 1937, Jew Elijah Moses was elected mayor of Mumbai.

In the 1940s, the Jewish population of Mumbai numbered 40,000.

After the formation of the State of Israel, the outflow of Jews from Mumbai began. At the beginning of the XXI century, there were from 2.7 to 4 thousand Jews in the city.

Of the eight synagogues in Mumbai, six belong to Bene Israel and two to the Baghdadi Jewish community.

The Jews of Mumbai have close ties with the local Muslim community. The two minorities in the Hindu country are united by the similarity of customs. The Bene Israel synagogues are located in the Muslim region of Mumbai. After the terrorist attacks in 2008, the city's Muslim Council prohibited the burial of killed militants in Mumbai.