Bnai Israel of India

(Children of Israel)
   A Jewish community indigenous to western India near Bombay whose origins are a mystery. In 1947, there were some 24,000 members of the community living in India, but most subsequently immigrated (see ALIYA) to Israel. In 1961, a controversy erupted in Israel as to whether the Bnai Israel were Jews according to Jewish law. The controversy ended in 1964 when Prime Minister Levi Eshkol declared adherents of the Bnai Israel as Jews in every respect. Nevertheless, four decades later in September 2005, the chief rabbi of Petah Tik-vah reportedly declined to recognize the local marriage involving a member of the Bnai Israel due to questions about his community's status according to Halacha.
   See also Law of Return (1950).

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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