Persistent identifier:
image: of 109
places, and especially in Bombay, this is not now done. These ministerial duties are at present performed by a person who is styled " Hazan," and not " Kajee." The judicial and other civil functions are performed by a person called " Nassi" or " Head," aided by a council.
3. How long have they been settled in Bombay, and have they any record relative to an early Synagogue in that City ?
The Beni Israel have been settled in Bombay for upwards of 150 years,* and the first Synagogue, it appears, was built in 1796, which date is found in our oldest Synagogue. The old building has been very much altered since the original edifice, which was erected by Mr. Samuel Ezekiel, (a native commandant in the British Army sent against Sultan Tippoo Sahib, the Ruler of Mysore) was found inadequate for the increased wants of the community. The commandant, when taken prisoner by the enemy, had vowed to build a Synagogue if he obtained his freedom.
4. Have they any ancient inscriptions on their tombstones, and if so, which is the earliest date of such inscription ?
There are no inscriptions on the tombs in Naugaum, but there are some on the tombs in Bombay. There were four burying grounds in Bombay, the oldest being situated in Mazagou, an old district in Bombay, but its exact situation cannot be ascertained at present. The most ancient inscription is found on a tomb in the next oldest graveyard, situated near Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy's Hospital, bearing the Jewish date 5530. A part of this graveyard has been turned into a tank, so that we cannot say if there were much older tombs in it.
5. Have they any historical evidence or any oral tradition tending to show that their ancestors spoke a language different from that now in use ?
We have no historical evidence of our ancestors having spoken a language different from that of the natives, but there is a tradition both amongst us and the natives that when our people first landed on the coast (they having been shipwrecked) their language was unintelligible to the natives.
6. Are any members of the Beni Israel Congregation well versed in the Hebrew language, and have they teachers who instruct them in Hebrew ? If so, name some of those teachers.
It cannot be said that any members of our community are well versed in Hebrew, though some can translate Hebrew into English or into Marathi, or into both. One of us
* According to Mr. Haeem Samuel of Poona, since about the year 1775
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg RSS