The Jews in India can be categorised into three groups which are the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israel and the Baghdadi Jews. Based in the south of India in Kerala, the Cochin Jews can be further split into ‘Black’ who believe that they are the original settlers, and ‘White’ who are of European or Middle Eastern origin and lastly, the Paradesi. Presently, a majority of the community has emigrated many to Israel, but there still stands a synagogue in Cochin that is a popular tourist attraction.
Believed to be descendants of Jewish survivors of a ship wrecked while sailing from ancient Israel during the reign of King Solomon, the Bene Israel not only practice a few some Jewish traditions like eating kosher food and Shabbat, they also follow some Muslim and Hindu practices such as not eating beef. This may have simply happened out of keeping peace with the neighbours. There are no concrete documented facts to support the claims of their decent, although there are more reliable facts that show proof of their settling during the tenth century. The eighteenth century saw them settle in Bombay and they are presently the biggest population of Indian Jews.
Known to be immigrants from Iraq and other countries in the Middle East, Baghdadi Jews settled in India during the late eighteenth century and opted to adhere to the British Colonial as opposed to local custom. During the 1950s and 1960s, a large number of these Jews immigrated to Israel. Some of these Jews rose to take positions of leadership, for example, General Samuels was the leading military figure during the 1972 Indo-Pakistan war, Lt-Cen J.F.R. Jacob was appointed Governor of Punjab State in 1999.
Mumbai is home to the central Council of Indian Jewry as well as most of the Indian Jews. Kosher food is readily available, and the city has three Jewish schools. India is now a major trade partner with Israel following the improvement in their relations.
I spent a wonderful Shabbat with the the Holtzbergs hy”d, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity. It was only a few weeks later that the terrible terrorist attack occurred.
CHABAD OF INDIA
Chabad of India is largely run by a breakaway organization form the umbrella chabad. There are many more chabad houses which can be found and the ones listed on chabad.org are not all of them. You can find the rest here. http://www.chabadindia770.com/129567/Chabad-Centers-in-India
Magen Aboth Synagogue
Constructed in 1848 the synagogue is situated in an area known as ‘Israel’ alley found to the south east of the town.
Association of Kerala Jews
Thekkumbhagom Synagogue Jews Street
Telephone: 366 247; 362454, Fax: 363 747
Princess Street, Fort
Telephone: 24228; 24988
This synagogue that was constructed in 1614 and then renovated in 1916 has been acknowledged as a historical monument by the Government of India. Next to it sits a small concrete pillar into which has been placed the tombstone of Sara Bat Israel dated 5336 (1576)
Jew Town, Mattancherry 2
Constructed in 1568, this is remaining Cochin synagogue that is still in use. It is closed Friday & Saturday.
Constructed in 1200 and rebuilt in 1690
Telephone: (484) 390 187
Constructed in 1580 and rebuilt in 1939
Bukhara Mohalla, opp. Parsi Agiari 380001
Telephone: (79) 535 5224
Jewish Association of Kolkata
1 & 2 Old Court House Corner
Telephone: (33) 224861
General inquiries can be made to this telephone number
6/1 Pollack Street
Magen David Synagogue
I09a Peplabi Rash, Bihari Bose Road, 1
Neveh Shalome Synagogue
9 Jackson Lane, 1
Beth EI Synagogue
Mirchi Galli, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Panvel
Telephone: (22) 2745 8126
Etz Haeem Prayer Hall
2nd Lane, Umerkhadi 400009
Telephone: (22) 377 0193
Gate of Mercy (Shaar Harahamim)
254 Samuel Street, Nr Masjid Railway Station
Telephone: (22) 345 2991
Known as the Samaji Hasaji Synagogue or Juni Masjid this building constructed in 1796 stands as the oldest Bene Israel synagogue still functioning in India. Its name was changed to Shaar Harahamim in 1896.
Magen David Synagogue
340 Sir J.J. Road, Byculla 400008
Telephone: (22) 300 6675
Gothic in character, this 1861 synagogue was constructed with the aid of the Sa soon family.
Magen Hassidim Synagogue
8 Mohammaed Shahid Marg, (formerly Moreland Road), Agripada 400011
Telephone: (22) 309 2493
With seating space for 1000, a majority of marriages and bar mitzvahs are held here. During its construction only Bene Israel carpenters, who gave their services for free, were used.
Sussex Road, Byculla 400027
Shaar HaRahamim Synagogue
Tembi Naka, opp. Civil Hospital, Thane 400601
Telephone: (22) 853 4817
This 1796 synagogue is the oldest Bene Israel synagogue in India
Shaare Rason Synagogue
90 Tantanpura Street, 3rd Road, Don Tad, Israel
Mohalla, Khadak 400009
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
92 K.K. Marg, Jacob Circle 400011
Telephone: (22) 305 3713
Knesseth Eliahu Synagogue
55 V.B. Gandhi Road (Forbes Street) 400023
Telephone: (22) 283 1502/23682296, Fax: (22) 2363 2445
At this 1884 synagogue, Kiddus is held with a lunch after Shabbath services at the synagogue
Kurla Bene Israel Prayer Hall
275 S.G. Barve Road (c.5.T. Road), Kurla 400070
Telephone: (22) 511 8795
68 World Hill Estate, PO Box 6571 40001 B
Telephone: (22) 496 2350; 8423, Fax: (22) 364 7308
The Travel and Tourism Department arranges tours in Mumbai and Raighad District
TOV Jewish India Tours
96 Penso Villa, 1 st Floor, Mbraut Rd., Shivaji Park
Telephone: (22) 244 50134, Mobile Phone: 09867 430775
Supervision: Clement Aaron
Judah Hyam Synagogue
2 Humayun Road (opposite Taj Mahal Hotel)
Telephone: (11) 2463 5500; 2464 1058
Supervision: Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, Honorary Secretary and Cantor
The Judah Hyam Annexe is home to a library and is the location for Hebrew classes and centre for Jewish and inter faith studies. There are services conducted on Friday evening starting at 7 P.M. during summer and 6.30 P.M. during winter as well as services during festivals and High Holidays.
Honorary Secretary and Hazzan of the Judah Hyam
Synagogue. Tel: 9818317674.
Constructed in 1165, the local Jewish community then rebuilt it in 1616 with the assistance of David Kastiel,a man of local origin and not a Paradesi Jew. The Paradesi Jews whose synagogue was constructed in 1568 were associated with Mattancherry.
93 Rasta Peth 411011
Inquiries to Hon. See. 24/1 Rasta Peth, Trupti Apt., Pune
411011 or Dr S.B. David 9, Bund Garden Road, Pune
Ohel David Synagogue
9 Dr Ambedkar Road 411 001
Telephone: (20) 613 2048
The synagogue was built in 1867 by David Sasoon whose grave lies in the synagogue grounds.
Tov Jewish India Tours
118 Citadel Palace Orchard, Rdindhari, Green Forest
Telephone: (20) 693 1488
All Dhobi Alley, Sulabha, Maharashtra 400601
Telephone: (22) 536 0539
Kosher goat meat and fish