Chapter

An Identity Aloof

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/9780520213234.003.0004
An Identity Aloof

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The Lal Dewal (Red Temple) is Pune's most famous landmark. Its steeple dominates much of the old British cantonment. The Mizrachi Jews acquired their Baghdadi identity via a series of encounters with other groups, both Gentile and Jewish. Bene Israel significantly affected the Baghdadis. The Mutiny exploded deep tensions stemming from heavy-handed British rule and the Indians' furious sense of disenfranchisement. The poisoned atmosphere in the wake of the Mutiny made the Baghdadis' identity as middlemen untenable. During the twentieth century, English eclipsed Arabic as the mother language in most Baghdadi homes, led by the wealthy. Clothing and cuisine were expressions of identity among the Baghdadis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Norman Nahoum perceives deep cultural similarities between Indic and Judaic civilizations. Nahoum recognizes that his new, proud Indian-Jewish identity is “an absolute reversal of the thought that has been inculcated in our minds for years”.

Keywords: Baghdadis; Mutiny; British rule; Indian-Jewish identity; Norman Nahoum; clothing; cuisine

Chapter.  12063 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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