Jews have had a presence in India for many centuries. The details of this tradition will be presented in an illustrated talk Sunday by a husband-wife team at Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road in Davis.
Yael and Mitch Numark will speak from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the CBH Social Hall. Their talk is sponsored by the congregation’s Israel Matters Committee.
The Numarks will discuss “The Jews of India: The Bene Israel, Baghdadi and Cochin Communities.” Yael was born and raised in the Bene Israel Jewish community in Mumbai (Bombay), India, and came to the United States in 2007. She is completing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and works as a tutor/instructional assistant at Sacramento State. Mitch is an assistant professor of history at Sacramento State and is a native of Los Angeles, earning his Ph.D. from UCLA.
Mitch will open the program with an overview of the story of India’s three historical Jewish communities — the Bene-Israel, Cochin and Baghdadi Jews. Yael will discuss her experiences growing up as a Jew in Mumbai.
According to the oral tradition, the Bene-Israel and Cochin Jewish communities originated more than 2,000 years ago, after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Bene-Israel story states that they were shipwrecked off the coast of India.
Baghdadi Jews came much more recently, arriving from Iraq in the late 18th century.
Today these are tiny communities. The Bene-Israel have about 5,000 members, Cochin Jews number fewer than 50, and there are an estimated 200 Baghdadi Jews in all of India.
Yael Numark notes that “Jews have lived peacefully, without persecution, with their Indian neighbors for centuries. We may look Indian in every respect, but we have always managed to maintain a Jewish identity.”
For more information, contact George Rooks at [email protected] or Al Sokolow at 530-758-3246.