Chapter

An Identity Transformed

Nathan Katz

in Who Are the Jews of India?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780520213234
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920729 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520213234.003.0003
An Identity Transformed

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The transformation of Bene Israel is so unlikely that one is tempted to see therein divine, rather than human, agency. The six reference groups of Bene Israel had a deep impact on their understanding of who they were, on their social organization, on their professional life, and on how they lived their religion and culture. The folk tales and notions about Eliahu Hanabi and his propitiation in the Malida rite are unique to the Bene Israel. The Eliahu Hanabi/Malida complex is an outstanding example of how great religious cultures interact in the performance of rituals. Bene Israel synagogue rituals follow Cochin traditions, but some of their synagogue customs are unique. For generations, the Bene Israel were Jews in India. Now they are Indians in Israel.

Keywords: Bene Israel; social organization; religious cultures; Eliahu Hanabi; Malida; India; rituals

Chapter.  14461 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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