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Who Are the Jews of India?$
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Nathan Katz

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520213234

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520213234.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 04 July 2022

An Identity Aloof

An Identity Aloof

Baghdadi Jews of the Raj

(p.126) THREE An Identity Aloof
Who Are the Jews of India?

Nathan Katz

University of California Press

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

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