The Jews of India: What Can We Learn from Them?

  • Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Part of the Interreligious Studies in Theory and Practice book series (INSTTP)


I have already noted Nathan Katz’s description of the Hindu-Jewish encounter as “an ancient encounter that dates back more than two millennia.” Speaking historically, this may be the case.1 Speaking theologically and hence in terms of the relevance of that encounter to Judaism’s present encounter with Hinduism, the ancient encounter may be of little significance. The question, in my opinion, is not whether Judaism and Hinduism encountered each other, but rather what were the parameters of that encounter and what can it teach us today. It seems to me that that particular encounter contributes little to contemporary concerns, though it may bear indirect testimony to positions that may be helpful to the present encounter.


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  1. 1.
    see Meir Bar Ilan, India and the Land of Israel: Between Jews and Indians in Ancient Times, Journal of Indo Judaic Studies 4, 2001, pp. 39–77.Google Scholar
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    See Henry Fischel, The Contribution of the Cochin Jews to South Indian and Jewish Civilizations, Commemoration Volume: Cochin Synagogue Quatercentenary Celebrations, ed. S. S.Koder, Cochin, 1971, pp. 15–64.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    see Shalva Weil, Yom Kippur: The Festival of Closing the Doors, Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism, ed. Hananya Goodman, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 1994, pp. 85–100.Google Scholar
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    See Nathan Katz and Ellen Goldberg, The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 1993, p. 249.Google Scholar
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    See Richard Marks, Hindus and Hinduism in Medieval Jewish Literature, Indo-Judaic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: A View from the Margin, ed. Nathan Katz et al., Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2007, pp. 65–67.Google Scholar
  8. see Richard Marks, Hinduism, Torah and Travel: Jacob Sapir in India, Shofar 30, 2, 2012, pp. 26–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Azriel Carlebach, India: A Road Journal, Ayanot, Tel Aviv, 1956 [Hebrew].Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    See Alan Brill, Judaism and World Religions: Encountering Christianity, Islam and Eastern Traditions, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2012, pp. 210–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. See also Shirley Berry Isenberg, India’s Bene Israel, a Comprehensive Inquiry and Sourcebook, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1988, p. 87.Google Scholar

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© Alon Goshen-Gottstein 2016

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  • Alon Goshen-Gottstein

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