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India's children of Israel find their roots
Timesof India ^ | 7.21.02 | RASHMEE Z AHMED

Posted on 07/20/2002 11:47:58 PM PDT by swarthyguy

LONDON: More than 2,000 years after they first claimed to have set foot in India, the mystery of the world's most obscure Jewish community - the Marathi-speaking Bene Israel - may finally have been solved with genetic carbon-dating revealing they carry the unusual Moses gene that would make them, literally, the original children of Israel.

Four years of DNA tests on the 4,000-strong Bene Israel, now mainly based in Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Ahmedabad, indicates they are probable descendants of a small group of hereditary Israelite priests or Cohanim, according to new results exclusively made available to the Sunday Times of India.

The priests are scattered worldwide but genetically related in a distinctive fashion that leaves just a billion to one chance of a mistake in identifying who the Bene Israel really are, says Tudor Parfitt, Jewish Studies professor at London's School of Oriental and African Studies.

Parfitt, who initiated and led the research, says this is the first concrete proof that “exiles from Palestine made it as far as India and managed to maintain Judaism in the sea of Hinduism and Islam”.

Contacted in the Israeli town of Ramla, 15 miles from Tel Aviv, where he emigrated from Mumbai, Aharon Daniel expressed doubt about the new findings. “Many scientists have claimed to have found Israeli or Cohanim genes in tribes in black Africa and other communities around the world and many here were sceptical about this,” he told STOI.

But some analysts said that Daniel's doubt could be a reflection of the shoddy treatment given to a few of the 30,000 Bene Israelis who returned to the Promised Land in the early '50s, soon after the state of Israel was created. Their Indian appearance, cricket-playing, sari-wearing, curry-eating and Marathi-speaking habits led to a bitter battle for recognition as “real Jews”.

The name Bene Israel literally means Children of Israel and their unsubstantiated legend of origin holds their ancestors to be Jews fleeing persecution in Palestine in 175 BC.

According to the legend, seven men and seven women survived a shipwreck near Navgaon village on the Konkan coast. Their descendants became thoroughly Indian except for observing Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, as a weekly holiday. The practice led them to be known as Shanwar Teli, Marathi for 'Saturday oilpressers'.

It was only in 1964, that the Israeli prime minister declared they were genuinely Jewish and should be allowed to return home (to Israel) and inter-marry.

But now, the new study goes one better. By studying certain genetic markers on the DNA chain, found only in male descendants of Aaron, Moses' elder brother, who founded the line of Jewish priests, the Bene Israel could well claim to be the purest of the pure.

Prominent Bene Israelis include poet Nissim Ezekiel and actress Pearl Padamsee.

The new research has also found preliminary genetic evidence to show the declining community of Black Jews of Cochin left Israel in remote historical times.

The new data, which is to feature in leading Western scientific journals over the next few months, comes after painstaking efforts to genetically source the origins of India's other, self-professed “lost” Jewish tribes, including the Manipuri Jews and the Telugu-speaking Jews of Guntur.

“We took DNA samples, but there was nothing that could prove they were related to other than the general family of mankind”, said Parfitt, who has researched Indian Jewry since 1984.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: beneisrael; godsgravesglyphs; india; israel; jewish; jews; judaism; losttribes; malabar; menashe; simchajacobovici; tenlosttribes
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1 posted on 07/20/2002 11:47:59 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: keri; livius; happygrl; veronica; dennisw; Cinnamon Girl; Black Agnes; Aaron_A; AM2000; mikeIII; ...
ZionistHinduConspiracy's Ancient Hinjew roots ping.

I remember hearing stories of how some Indian Jews had a hard time in Israel as this story mentions. Also, saw an Israeli magazine from the 80's with Indian Jews in traditional Indian dress on the cover; it wasn't these.
Please ping any others you think might be interested.
2 posted on 07/20/2002 11:53:18 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy
There are many people in Iraq and Iran who would be very surprised to find out about their Jewish ancestry. There are quite a number of them from the days of the exile.
3 posted on 07/21/2002 12:05:47 AM PDT by Dialup Llama
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To: Dialup Llama
I can see that project going over real well with the authorities in those two countries.
4 posted on 07/21/2002 12:15:32 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy; monkeyshine; ipaq2000; Lent; veronica; Sabramerican; beowolf; Nachum; BenF; angelo; ...
ping

alt

5 posted on 07/21/2002 12:23:53 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: swarthyguy
Maybe someday everyone can be DNA tested and move to where someone in their line lived thousands of years ago. I'm hoping for the central California coast.
6 posted on 07/21/2002 12:45:37 AM PDT by LarryLied
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: the_right_way
Getting a little out of hand isn't it?

Catch this one tonight?

An article published in the May'02 issue of The Atlantic Monthly contends that persons of European extraction are descended from Mohammed.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/719729/posts

A set-up? We're told for months all Muslims must die and then we're told all those descended from white European Christians are Muslims.

8 posted on 07/21/2002 1:38:24 AM PDT by LarryLied
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To: the_right_way
German law does allow ethnic Germans to freely immigrate to Germany. For example, tens of thousands of people with German ancestry came from the former Soviet Union to Germany in the 90s.
9 posted on 07/21/2002 1:43:30 AM PDT by Truthsayer20
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To: swarthyguy
Oh dear ! Gracious ! There goes the neighborhood !
10 posted on 07/21/2002 5:48:28 AM PDT by genefromjersey
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To: dennisw
Great article. I read this and thought of the religious conflict in India..(Muslims-Hindis) I hope this group stays well. If the Muslims get wind of this they will slaughter them
11 posted on 07/21/2002 6:32:00 AM PDT by RnMomof7
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To: swarthyguy
Hey, thanks for the ping !

Where's that picture of the Hinjew cow ????

Now if we can only determine the true ethnicity of Michael Jackson....

12 posted on 07/21/2002 6:36:15 AM PDT by happygrl
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To: LostTribe
ping
13 posted on 07/21/2002 6:37:39 AM PDT by happygrl
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To: dennisw
probable descendants of a small group of hereditary Israelite priests or Cohanim,

How many more tribes are left to find?

14 posted on 07/21/2002 6:42:56 AM PDT by DainBramage
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To: swarthyguy
I remember hearing stories of how some Indian Jews had a hard time in Israel as this story mentions.

When we lived in Israel we had a Sephardic friend who was originally from Bombay. There was, and probably still is, a large community of normative Jews in India who for centuries did not accept the "bene Israel" as being authentically Jewish because they practiced some weird religion that combined bits and pieces of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and whatnot.

I also had an Indian Hindu co-worker tell me that she thought she was Jewish.

15 posted on 07/21/2002 6:52:25 AM PDT by Alouette
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To: Alouette
Most interesting.
16 posted on 07/21/2002 7:23:05 AM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: RnMomof7
If the Muslims get wind of this they will slaughter them

What do you think they've been trying to do to Hindus for the past 1300 years?
17 posted on 07/21/2002 7:59:50 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: LarryLied
So your're descended from the ancient Hindu seafarers who washed up on the West Coast of the Americas so many millenia ago?
18 posted on 07/21/2002 8:00:57 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: Alouette; happygrl
"I also had an Indian Hindu co-worker tell me that she thought she was Jewish."

Whoa! An IndianAmericanPrincess/JAP combo! Hope she married someone really rich.

"because they practiced some weird religion...and whatnot"

Weirdness, like faith, is in the eyes of the beholder, eh?
I guess that whatnot was the last straw. The islam was the SUfi version, i bet; the sufi singing groups are renowned all over India and is performed by Catholics even.


19 posted on 07/21/2002 8:06:31 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: dennisw
I visited the synagogue in Cochin, in Kerala. Amazing place. Took some photographs of the tombstones recovered from the now-destroyed 12th century cemetery.

The roots of the community there stretch, by legend, to the Captivity.
20 posted on 07/21/2002 8:17:15 AM PDT by lavrenti
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