Jews Current Affairs
Gujarat Government has granted religious minority status to Jews living in the state. In this regard, State’s Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has issued GR to this effect. Gujarat is third state in India to grant religious minority status to Jews after West Bengal and Maharashtra.
As religious minority members professing faith of Judaism, Jews in the states will get religious minority rights envisaged in Constitution of India and various acts and rules of the state government. They will also get benefits of welfare schemes formulated for religious minority communities within the jurisdiction of Gujarat.
Gujarat has small Jewish community with no more than 170 members and majority of them located in Ahmedabad. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, during his official visit to Israel in June 2018, had announced that his government was in the process of granting religious minority status to the community. Gujarat also had hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his six-day India visit in January 2018.
Judaism is one of the oldest religions of the world, evolved in Egypt about 3,700 years ago. It believes in the unity and oneness of universal Creator. Judaism is the religion, philosophy and way of life of the Jewish people. Jews have been living in India for over 2,000 years ever since they first landed on West coast of India. Indian Jews are known as a peace-loving community. They follow Hebrew calendar. They have special thanks giving ceremony known as Eliyahoo-ha-Nabior i.e. ‘gratitude to Elijah the Prophet’, on festive occasions.
Indian Jews fall into five categories
Bene Israel – meaning Children of Israel. Marathi speaking. Arrived in Maharashtra 2,100 years ago.
Cochin Jews – arrived in India 2,500 years ago and settled down in Kerala as traders.
Baghdadi Jews – Jews who came to India as traders from West Asia, mainly from Baghdad. They are settled mainly in Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata.
Bene Menashe – The Manipur Jews constitute a community which sees itself as descendants of the Manasseh (Menashe) Tribe (which is one of the 10 lost tribes of Jews).
Bene Ephraim – also called “Telugu Jews”. They are a small group who speak Telugu. Their observance of Judaism dates to 1981.
Maharashtra Government has accorded minority status to Jews in the state as per the provisions of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission Act, 2004.
Decision in this regard was taken at the state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai.
With this, Maharashtra becomes second state in the country to accord minority status to Jews after West Bengal.
- As per the 2001 population census, there are 4,650 Jews in the country of whom 2,466 are based in Maharashtra.
- With minority status, the Jews in the state can be counted independently as a religious minority along with Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains.
- The status will now make the community eligible to avail various development schemes that the state launches for the minority community.
- The community will now get benefits of merit-cum-means scholarship, post-matric scholarship, pre-matric scholarship, coaching and allied schemes and multi-sectoral development programme that the government runs for minorities.
- Educational institutes run by Jews now will be eligible to get benefit of minority status including reserving seats for members of their own community.
The Maharashtra State Minorities Commission Act, 2004 empowers the state government to declare a community minority. Earlier in October 2006, the state government had declared Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and Parsees religious minorities.