20 April 2007

India: Stories of a vanishing tribe

Nextbook posts some fascinating cultural features.

"Out of India" is about the stories of writer Sophie Judah which chronicle a vanishing tribe - the Bene Israel. Writer Amy Rosenberg's interview of Judah provides a window to a little-known community.

"Sophie Judah hails from Jabalpur, a small town nestled among the hills, caves, and lakes of central India. In her wide-ranging collection of short stories, Dropped from Heaven, she describes a town much like Jabalpur, detailing the ways and manners of the tight-knit Jewish community, known as the Bene Israel, that migrated there from India's southwestern coast in the late 19th century. In Judah's stories, the women wear saris and observe the Sabbath, the families eat curry and keep kosher, and in the synagogue (really the living room of one well-to-do clan), the congregants speak Hindi and utter Hebrew prayers."

Judah discusses her childhood; Jewish observances; convent educations; relationships between Jews, Moslems and Hindus; and her aliyah to Israel.

Read it here

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