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187 Posts in 148 Topics by 89 Members
Latest Member: elijahnathan
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46  Entertainment / Bollywood/Movies / Re: Indian Jewish bollywood stars on: January 12, 2007, 04:09:18 PM
Found this info at the below link (forwarded to me via e-mail):

Hooray for Bollywood:

About Joseph David, the Bene Israel Jew who wrote and produced the first talkie in Bollywood.                             

India has a thriving film industry. For example, Bengal (the home of Satyajit Ray's famous films, such as the trilogy starting with The World of Apu); South India, especially Kerala; Maharashtra State, Rajasthan and the Punjab all have their own large, thriving film industries. Bollywood, however is the best-known aspect of it in the West, and seems to be the most popular among the Indian expatriate community.

Bollywood is centred in Bombay, or as it now is, Mumbai, (perhaps now it should be called Mollywood,) and churns out about 800 films a year in 12 languages. Financed by interest rates of 40 to 60 percent and with a dozen-odd studios working round the clock, producing several films at any one time, all in the same studios, as well as some of the stars working on up to ten films simultaneously, ''churn'' seems to be the operative word. Clearly it is not a place for painstaking method-actors or -actresses.

In the first talkie in Hollywood, a Jew, Al Jolson, merely starred in it, but in the Indian film industry's first talkie, Joseph David (DE’s grandfather), wrote the story, the music and co-produced it.

The film Alam Ara is a swashbuckling tale about a power-struggle between two queens of an ageing king, and the daughter of an imprisoned loyal general, the Alam Ara of the title. It was based on Joseph David's popular play written in Persian, and performed by his Parsee Theatrical Theatre Company and produced by Wadia Movietone. According to The Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, "Alam Ara established the use of music, song and dance as the mainstay of Indian cinema."

He went on to write and co-produce many other films for Wadia Movietone, including a series of  stunt movies, the first being Hunterwali, (The Lady with the Whip), about a super-heroine, the Indian equivalent of the superheroes and heroines, such as Batman and Wonder-woman in Western cinema. Incidentally the leading lady in these films was a Jewess from the Ukraine, called Nadia. The Jewish connection does not end there. The Bombay Film Laboratories, which processed most of the films made in Bombay at that time, was started by a Jewish solicitor called Moses Solomon who happened to be the grandfather of another of our contributors, Sophie Jhirard.

Alam Ara had an interesting brush with history. An actor called Master Vithal was the leading man. The studio that he left to join Wadia Movietone, Sharda Studio, sued him for breach of contract. The lawyer who successfully defended him was Mohamed Ali Jinnah, the founder and first president of Pakistan.

A moving tribute was written by J.B.H.Wadia, one of the Wadia brothers who owned and ran Wadia Movietone which appeared in the Times of India in 1966. He pointed out that it was due to David Joseph’s extreme modesty (not an asset in this industry) that he did not receive the full recognition for his pioneering work and for his importance in the Indian film industry. -- Anthony Kerstein & Danny Ezekiel
47  History and Geneology / Our Roots / Shaare Rason Synagogue President Response to Rabbi Appointment - 1974 on: January 12, 2007, 03:46:10 PM
Attached is a document e-mailed to me. It contains the text of a response letter written by the President of the Shaare Rason Synagogue in Bombay (Mumbai).

A Rabbi was appointed at the Jewish Agency to assume the duties of the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Communities in India.
48  Entertainment / Music / Eliyahoo Hanabee - The Musical Tradition of the Bene Israel of Bombay on: July 30, 2006, 11:04:16 PM
Click the link below to listen to samples of tracks from the CD titled "Eliyahoo Hanabee".
49  Education / Higher Learning / Dr. Shalva Weil's Contribution on: July 19, 2006, 07:58:33 PM

List of Publications on Indian Jews
by Dr. Shalva Weil

1974   Bene Israel in Britain. New Community 3(1/2): 87-91.
1977a   Names and Identity among the Bene Israel. Ethnic Groups 1(3): 201-219.
1977b   Verbal Interaction among the Bene Israel. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 13: 71-85.
1977c   Verbal Interaction among the Bene Israel. Linguistics 193: 71-85.
1980a   Literature of Jews of India. Journal of Indian Folkloristics 3(5/6): 58-71.
1980b   The State of Research into Bene Israel Indian Jews. Indian Economic and Social History Review 17(4): 397-408.
1982a   Contacts Between the Bene Israel and the Holy Land from the Eighth Century B.C.E until 1948: An Ethno-historical Perspective. In The Sephardi and Oriental    Jewish Heritage. I. Ben-Ami, ed. Pp. 165-178. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
1982b   Symmetry between Christians and Jews in India: the Cnanite Christians and the Cochin Jews of Kerala. Contributions to Indian Sociology 16(2): 175-196.
1984   From Cochin to Israel. Jerusalem: Kumu Berina. (Hebrew).
1985   Interpersonal Relations and uses of Language among Bene Israel in Israel. In Oriental Jews. S. Deshen and M. Shokeid, eds. Pp. 306-311. Jerusalem: Schocken    (Hebrew).
1986a   A Comparison of Christians and Jews in South India. In The Jews of India. T. Timberg, ed. Pp. 177-204. Delhi: Vikas Publication.
1986b   An Overview of Research on the Bene Israel. In The Jews of India. T. Timberg, ed. Pp. 12-27. Delhi: Vikas Publications.
1987   Anthropology becomes Home: Home becomes Anthropology. In Anthropology at Home. A. Jackson, ed. Pp. 196-212. London: Tavistock Publications.
1988a   The Influence of Caste Ideology in Israel. In Cultural Transition: the Case of Immigrant Youth. M. Gottesmann, ed. Pp. 150-161. Jerusalem: Magnes Press.
1988b   Proximal Households among Bene Israel Indian Jews in Israel. In Alternative Patterns of Family Life in Modern Societies. L. Shamgar-Handelman and R. Palomba,    eds. Pp. 87-103. Rome: Consiglio Nazionale della Ricerche, Institute di Recerche Sulta Popolazione.

1991   Beyond the Sambatyon: the Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes, Ariel, 85-86:25-31.
1994a   The Secular & Religious Elite among the Bene Israel Jews in India, Pe’amim 60:49-63. (Hebrew).
1994b   Yom Kippur: the Festival of Closing the Doors. In Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism. H. Goodman, ed. Pp. 85-100.    New York: State University of New York Press.
1995a   Brothers? The Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes. In Masa Acher,52(Nov.):16-21.
1995b   Remote Jewish Communities. In The People of the Menorah. E. Ben-Gal, ed. Pp. 68-73. Tel-Aviv: Maccabi World Union.
1996a   Religious Leadership vs. Secular Authority: the Case of the Bene Israel, The Eastern Anthropologist, Vol. 49, Nos. 3& 4: 301-316 .
1996b   Double Conversion among the Children of Menasseh. In Contemporary Society Tribal Studies. G. Pfeffer and D.K. Behera, eds. Pp. 84-102. New Delhi: Concept.
1999a   From Persecution to Freedom: Central European Jewish Refugees and their Jewish Host Communities in India. In Jewish Exile in India 1933-1945. A. Bhatti and    J.H. Voigt, eds. Pp. 64-84. New Delhi: Manohar and Max Mueller Bhavan.
1999b   Flora Samuel. Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies 1(2): 150-151.
2000   India, The Larger Immigrations from Eastern Countries. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute and the Ministry of Education. (Hebrew).
2001   The Jewish Communities of India. In The Tribes-Evidence of Israel: Exile, Immigrations, Absorption, Contribution and Integration. A. Mizrachi and A. Ben-David,    eds. Pp. 272-281. Netanya: Association for Society and Culture, Documentation and Research. (Hebrew).
2001   Our Brethren the Taliban? In The Jerusalem Report. Pp. 22. Jerusalem.
2002a   (2004- second edition)   India's Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art and Life-Cycle. Mumbai: Marg Publications.
2002b   (2004- second edition)   The Heritage and Legacy of Indian Jews.
   In Indian Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art and Life-Cycle. S. Weil, ed. Pp. 8-21. Mumbai: Marg Publications.
2002c   (2004- second edition)   Bene Israel Rites and Routines. In Indian Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art and Life-Cycle. S. Weil, ed. Pp. 78-89. Mumbai: Marg Publications.    Reprinted in: Marg: A Magazine of the Arts, Vol. 54, No.2: 26-37.
2003   "Dual Conversion Among the Shinlung of North-East India", In Studies of Tribes and Tribals, Vol. 1, No. 1 (inaugural volume):43-57.
2004   "Lost Israelites from North-East India: Re-Traditionalisation and Conversion among the Shinlung from the Indo-Burmese Borderlands",
   The Anthropologist, Vol. 6, No. 3: 219-233.
2005a   "Motherland and Fatherland as Dichotomous Diasporas: The Case of the Bene Israel", in Les Diasporas 2000 ans d'histoire. L. Anteby, W. Berthomiere and G.    Sheffer (eds.)  Pp.91-99. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
2005b   "The Impact of Hindu -Judaic Studies in Israel, or, The Salience of Spirituality", Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies, Vol. 7: 5-11.
2005b   "Obituary: Professor J.B Segal", Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies,
   Vol. 7:117-119.
2006a   "Today is Purim': A Cochin Jewish Song in Hebrew", TAPASAM , Quarterly
   Journal for Kerala Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3: 575-588.
2006b   (forthcoming)  "Indo-Judaic Tradition", in Religions in South Asia. S. Mittal and G. Thursby (eds.) Pp 169-183. London: Routledge.

2006c   (forthcoming) Indo-Judaic Studies: A View from the Margins, Editor. With N. Katz, R. Chakrabarti and K. Ranabir. Palgrave-Macmillan Press.
2006d   (forthcoming) On Origins, the Arts and Transformed Identities: Foci of Research into the Bene Israel. In Indo-Judaic Studies: A View from the Margins, N. Katz,    S. Weil, R. Chakrabarti and  K. Ranabir (eds.). Palgrave-Macmillan Press.

2006e   (forthcoming) "The Earth's Inhabitants Scattered: The Relationship Between Ethnicity and Diaspora" in Research in Urban Sociology, Vol 8 – Ethnic Landscapes    in a Global World. R. Hutchinson & J. Krase (eds.). Elsevier Press.

Book Reviews

1985   The Bene Israel in India: Some Studies.  Asian & African Studies 19(1): 131-132.
1997   Torah and Veda. International Journal of Hindu Studies 1(2): 427-428.
1998   Jews of the Raj. Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies 1(1): 105-107.
2001a   At Home in Exile: The Jews of India. Biblio: A Review of Books (New Delhi, Manohar). VI(9&10): 18-19.
2001b   The Jews of India by B.J. Israel (New Delhi: Mosaic Books, 1998) Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies, Vol. 4: 119-122.

2001c   The Jews of India by B.J. Israel (New Delhi: Mosaic Books, 1998)   Biblio: A Review of Books, (New Delhi, Manohar), Vol. 6, Nos. 9 &10:18-9.

2002b   Letters to Auntie Fori by Martin Gilbert (New York: Shocken, 2002) Biblio: A Review of Books, (New Delhi, Manohar). P. 23.
2003   The Book of Esther by Esther David, (Viking by Penguin Books India, 2002) Biblio: A Review of Books (New Delhi, Manohar), p. 26.
2006   (forthcoming) The Book of Rachel  by Esther David, (Penguin Books India, 2006), Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies. 

 Entries in Encyclopedias

1989   "Bene Israel", pp 109-110; "Tribes, ten Lost", pp. 714-715. In The Encyclopedia of Judaism, Geoffrey Wigoder ed. Jerusalem Publishing House.
1992a   Bene Israel. In Encyclopedia of World Cultures. P. Hockings, ed. Vol. 3. Pp. 27-29. (HRAF), Boston, Mass: G. K. Hall & Co.
1992b   Cochin Jews. In Encyclopedia of World Cultures. P. Hockings, ed. Vol. 3. Pp. 71-73. (HRAF), Boston, Mass: G. K. Hall & Co.
1994a   India, Zionism in. In Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel. G. Wigoder, ed. Pp. 651-652: Associated University Presses.
1994b   Indian Jews in Israel. In Encyclopedia of  Zionism and Israel. G. Wigoder, ed. Pp. 652-653: Associated University Presses.
1994c   Ten Tribes. In Encyclopedia of Judaism. G. Wigoder, ed. Pp. 475. Jerusalem: Keter.

1996   Bene Israel. In Encylopedia of the Modern Middle East. R.S. Simon, P. Mattar, and R.W. Bulliet, eds. Vol. 1. Pp. 350. New York: Macmillan.
1997   Bene Israel. In The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion. R.J.Z. Werblowsky and G. Wigoder, eds. Pp. 113. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
1999a   Bene Israel. In Encyclopedia Judaica CD-Rom, Jerusalem.
1999b   Cochin Jews. In Encyclopedia Judaica CD-Rom, Jerusalem.
2002   Cochin Jews, In Encyclopedia of World Cultures Supplement, Ember, Carol R., Melvin Ember, and Ian Skoggard, eds.  Yale University (HRAF): Macmillan    Reference,  pp. 78-80.

2004   "Judaism-South Asia", Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Levinson, David and Karen Christensen, et al., eds. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, Vol. 3, pp. 284-286.
2007   (forthcoming) "Indian Jews – History", "Indian Jews – Contemporary",  "Dichotomous Diasporas: The Case of the Bene Israel Indian Jews", "The Jews of    Pakistan", "The  Bnei Menasseh/ Shinlung from the Indo-Burmese Borderlands". Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora Prof. M Avrum Ehrlich ed.California: ABC-   CLIO INC.

Museum Catalogues

1981   The Jews from the Konkan: the Bene Israel Community of India. Tel-Aviv: Beth Hatefutsoth, the Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora.
1991   Beyond the Sambatyon: the Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes. Tel-Aviv: Beth Hatefutsoth, the Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora.
2002   The Bene Israel of India, in Eliyahoo Hanabee  (to accompany CD- Rom). Tel-Aviv: Beth Hatefutsoth, the Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora.
50  Entertainment / Bollywood/Movies / Re: Indian Jewish bollywood stars on: June 17, 2006, 06:12:55 PM
See attached file below for more info about the contribution of Indian-Jews to Bollywood. Forwarded to me by Romiel Daniel.
51  News / In The News / Indian-Jewish Community Deeply Connected to Israel on: June 17, 2006, 06:06:50 PM
An interview with Romiel and Lael Daniel regarding the Indian-Jewish Community.
52  Entertainment / Bollywood/Movies / Turn Left at the End of the World on: June 16, 2006, 12:11:45 PM
סוף העולם שמאלה - Turn Left at the End of the World

This is an Israeli movie which chronicles the relations between two communities - Indian and Moroccan Jews - in a remote Israeli desert town through the eyes of two girls coming of age. If you seen this movies, feel free to add your comments if you've seen this movie.

Here's a link for a review in Hebrew:

And here's a link for a review in English:

53  Food / Recipes / Recipe For Modak on: June 15, 2006, 09:33:10 PM
Recipe Made by Diana Ezekiel Malekar - New Delhi

2 Coconuts, 250 gm of Sugar, Rice Flour - 4 glasses


  • Grate the coconut & put it in a vessel and mix it well with sugar, skinned/peeled dry fruits like Almonds, cashew, Pistachios, Charoli, Elayci/Jaypal all grated fine. Keep on fire and keep stirring well and then add 2 glasses of rice flour.
  • Boil 2 glasses of water in a separate vessel, and add salt, oil - 2 table spoons After the water gets boiled add 2 glasses of rice flour till a thick paste is created.
  • Knead the thick paste rice flour and make it into small puri shaped chappatis. Then put the above coconut mixture onto the chappatis and close the ends of the chappati with the fingers to create a Kiss curl shape on the bagged chappatis. This is the shape of the Modak
  • Take a sufficiently large vessel with the possibility of having a false base of a sieve. Put all the Modaks on the sieve base after having put oil on the sieve base so the Modak do not stick to it. Fill the space between the base and the sieve base with water but it should not touch the sieve base. Cover the Vessel with a plate and let the Modak cook for 20 minutes. It is ready when the Modak are not sticky.

Below is the background story I received regarding the above recipe. Keep in mind that is from the OLD COUNTRY, so it will sound a bit outdated to some.

A Unique and symbolic savory of the Bene Israel Cuisine is the Modak. It is generally served at the Barat Ceremony (i.e. The day the bridegroom brings the bride to his home for the first time. The women of the house put a hot dish of this item with many more than shown in the picture above on the table between the bride & the bridegroom. Now each is supposed to grab as much as one can. The fact of th matter is that generally the bride is able to grab more because she has worked in the kitchen handling hot items. The message to the bridegroom being that you may be master of all you see except the realm of the wife the kitchen. The next message is for the bride to feed her husband from her share. The message being to her that if you want to keep you husband happy that’s how you will feed him.

From Then on thy Live Happily Ever After. The myth is that it will prevent divorces.
54  History and Geneology / Our Roots / What is your personal story making Aliya to Israel? on: June 14, 2006, 03:04:31 PM
I would like to hear people's personal stories about their move from India to Israel. I'm especially insterested in stories of earlier generations. Some of the things I would like to hear your opinion about are:

  • Describe the cultural differences encountered, expectations, challenges, etc.
  • Describe the process in India - how did you decide to move to Israel
  • Describe the early days of your stay in Israel and how did you cope with challenges

Of course there are other things I'm interested in knowing and I'll edit this post as more things come to mind. But please feel free to include anything you deem fit.

Thanks in advance,

55  News / In The News / Jamia holds lecture on Indian Jews’ heritage on: June 13, 2006, 02:18:20 PM
See attached PDF (or click on the link below) to read the article about the lecture given by Nissim Moses.
56  Our Community / People and Contributions / Institutions, Monuments & Structures in India Contributed to by The Jews on: June 11, 2006, 06:46:07 PM
Here's an initial list, feel free to add any that are not mentioned. List submitted by Nissim Moses.

Bombay CastleUsed as Residence of The Governor of Bombay from 1665 for 120 years. Today it is The Head quarters of the Western Command of the Indian Navy and a World Maritime Heritage Site.
Sir Eli Kaddourie School, Originally the Israelite SchoolFounder-Hyam Samuel Kehimkar Donor –Sir Eli Kaddourie
David Sassoon LibrarySassoon Family
David Sassoon Industrial Institute & Reformatory SchoolSassoon Family
Sassoon Hospital - PoonaSir David Sassoon
Sassoon Hospital Building within the J.J.  Hospital Complex in BombaySassoon Family
Gateway of IndiaSassoon Family
Royal Institute of Science – Now the Institute of Science Bombay- (Right Wing)The Sassoon Family
Comtech House- Sassoon Head Office-Bombay
Bank Of India-BombaySir Albert Sassoon
Bombay Flying ClubSassoon Family
E.D Sassoon Mills-  Later India United MillsE. D. Sassoon
Sassoon Docks-BombaySir David Sassoon
Flora Fountain- BombaySassoon Family
Nivara Old Age Home – Originally-David Sassoon Elderly & destitute personsSassoon Family
Messina Hospital- Palace of the Sassoon Family in BombaySassoon Family
Clock Tower at Victoria Gardens- BombaySir David Sassoon
Magen David - BombaySassoon Family
Knesset Eliyahu Synagogue -BombaySir Jacob Elias David Sassoon
Ohel David Synagogue- PoonaSir David Sassoon
Sir Jacob Sassoon School-BombaySir Jacob Sassoon
E.D Sassoon SchoolElias Sassoon
Jewish OrphanageThe Community
ORT-Vocational Training InstituteGerhard Gabriel-World Ort Union
Synagogues in India The Cochin Synagogue is more than 400 years old & is a world heritage site.43 synagogues & prayer halls in Imperial India-(including India Pakistan & Burma).
Synagogues in IsraelMore Than 41 synagogues in Israel plus additional ones in USA, England & Canada.
57  Entertainment / Bollywood/Movies / Re: Indian Jewish bollywood stars on: June 09, 2006, 12:14:07 PM
Below are links to articles I found online:


58  Entertainment / Bollywood/Movies / Re: Indian Jewish bollywood stars on: June 02, 2006, 09:36:52 PM
Veteran Hindi movie actor David Abraham Chelkar (1908-1982) was a member of the Bene-Israel Jewish community of Bombay, India.
Other Bene-Israelis who rose to prominence in the India movie industry include Nadira-a half Baghdadi Jew, Sulochana alias Ruby Myers (1907-1987), actress/dancer Helen, actress Susan Solomon alias Firoza Begum, and noted film journalist Bunny Reuben.
59  News / In The News / Dedication of the 2nd Donated Sefer Torah on: June 02, 2006, 09:31:57 PM
A brief article by Sarnod Sarngan regarding the dedication ceremony at the Beth-El Synagogue.

60  News / In The News / Jews Feel Safest in India on: June 02, 2006, 09:25:37 PM
An brief article by Samod Sarngan discussing Indian Jews in India and the Indian Jewish Congregation in the U.S.

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