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corporateghost
07-25-2020, 12:31 AM
So while it's generally agreed upon that most historical Jewish communities, with the exception of a couple outliers, derive a substantial chunk of their genetic background from the Near East. I'm curious relatively how Middle Eastern outlier groups like the Kaifeng Jews of China or the Cochin Jews and Bene Israel of India would be.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the origins of these communities are from the Persian speaking part of the Jewry world, similarly to the Bukharan Jews of Central Asia. However unlike the Bukharan Jews who seemed to remain relatively endogamous, the Indian and Chinese communities seemed to have converted and intermarried pretty heavily with their host population to where they seem to be genetically and phenotypically indistinguishable from the people who surrounded them.


Would anyone who studied this a bit further be able to shed more light on the subject? I haven't really found any threads or comments concerning these specific communities.

P.S. I just want to make it clear, I'm not trying to say they are less Jewish than others since this can be a touchy subject, I think anyone who either converts or who was born to a Jewish mother is Jewish regardless of their genetics. I'm just interested in learning a bit more about less talked about communities like these, as information about them seems rather scarce.

passenger
07-25-2020, 03:32 AM
There are a couple very short threads on Indian Jews (and several others more specifically about confusion over "Indian Jewish" oracle results on GEDmatch that pop up fairly often for non-Jewish South Asians). I believe there hasn't been much discussion in part because there's not a whole lot of information out there besides the main studies like these two:

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0152056

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4725824/

Here are the threads, for general reference:

https://anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?5311-Jews-in-India&highlight=bene+israel

https://anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?5297-Jew_India&highlight=bene+israel

I'm not aware of any genetic research done on Kaifeng Jews. They are notably absent from the major genetic studies on Jews.

Azbuzz
04-30-2021, 04:50 PM
Do Cochin Jewish have any non-Indian ancestry or are they descended entirely from local converts (like Ethiopian Jews)?

I am referring to the Malabari Jews of Kochi and not the Pardesi Jews who settled in Kochi. For some reason, many people mix the two groups up.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DsYjstngUE4
This is a documentary on the Indian Jews. Whats interesting to note is that they call themselves Cochin Jews and say they came 2500 years ago eventhough in reality they are Baghdadi/Pardes Jews.

passenger
04-30-2021, 06:00 PM
Do Cochin Jewish have any non-Indian ancestry or are they descended entirely from local converts (like Ethiopian Jews)?

I am referring to the Malabari Jews of Kochi and not the Pardesi Jews who settled in Kochi. For some reason, many people mix the two groups up.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DsYjstngUE4
This is a documentary on the Indian Jews. Whats interesting to note is that they call themselves Cochin Jews and say they came 2500 years ago eventhough in reality they are Baghdadi/Pardes Jews.

I've merged your post with this pre-existing thread since they have overlapping topics. You can also find a bit of discussion in the linked threads from my previous post.

passenger
04-30-2021, 06:30 PM
I couldn't add any more with regard to genetic inheritance from the Levant or genetic continuity between the more ancient Malabari Jewish communities and present-day communities. In historical terms, we certainly have enough evidence that there was a Jewish community in the region at least from the beginning of the second millennium CE, but legends of more ancient origins are, as always, very difficult to confirm.

From the Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (which I often refer to here) we have, for example:


Two inscriptions in Old Malayalam are evidence for the settlement of Jews in Kerala during the medieval period: the Syrian Christian Copper Plates (Kollam, 849 C.E.) and the Jewish Copper Plates (Kodungallur, 1000). The former contain signatures in Syriac, Kufic, Pahlavi, and Hebrew, suggestive of the religious identities of the beneficiaries of the grant, namely Christians, Muslims, and Jews from West Asia. The latter was granted to a West Asian trader named Joseph Rabban, who was probably a Jew, because for several centuries the royal grant passed down through generations of Jews in Kerala. In both inscriptions, the beneficiaries belong to the A˝juvaṇṇam and Maṇigrāmam, terms apparently associated in early Old Malayalam with West Asian trader guilds.

Hundreds of letters found in the Cairo Geniza, dating between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, provide more evidence for the presence of Jewish traders in Kerala at the beginning of the second millennium. Additionally, the travelogues of Benjamin of Tudela in the twelfth century and Ibn Baṭṭūṭa in the fourteenth mention Jewish communities in south and central Kerala. The West Asian A˝juvaṇṇam and Maṇigrāmam trade guilds are mentioned in a fifteenth-century Malayalam composition from north Kerala, the Payyannūrpāṭṭu, thus providing circumstantial evidence that Jews were also involved in the trade centers of south Kerala.

But the same text also discusses how some descendants of the 16th-century Sephardic new arrivals, the Paradesi Jews, later mythologized their origin stories to make it seem as if they had originated in an ancient Jewish kingdom in Kerala. So layers of legend added by much less ancient Jewish communities can sometimes obscure things.