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Mumbai's Jewish Heritage

Jews were once a prominent stream in Mumbai's population. It's believed there were three strains of Indian Jews—Maharashtrian (Bene Israel) Jews, Cochini Jews, and Baghdadi Jews. The Bene Israel Jews, considered by some to be the Lost Tribe of Israel, supposedly arrived (shipwrecked) in India in the early centuries of the Common Era (some say as far back as 500 BC) and settled along the Konkan coast south of Mumbai. The Cochini Jews, who were spice traders, arrived in approximately AD 1000 and settled in Kerala, in the town of Cochin (Kochi) on the Malabar Coast. Jewish immigration began in earnest in India, however, in the 1800s, and by the 1900s there may have been up to 50,000 Jews in India. These days there are about 5,000 left—most migrated to Israel in the 1950s. Baghdadi Jews, from Iraq and Syria, settled mainly in Mumbai and Kolkata; there's still a small but active population of Iraqi Jews in Mumbai.

Left behind by historic Jewish communities in Mumbai is an assortment of synagogues.

Updated: 03-2013

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