by Dr. Venugopal Menon


Judaism is one of the earliest foreign religions to arrive in India in recorded history. One of the religious minorities Jews have lived in India peacefully and in harmony without any anti-Semitism unlike in many parts of the world. Their ancestors came to India reportedly during the time of Judah, r as descendants of Israel’s Ten Lost Tribes. After the creation of Israel in 1948, most Jews have migrated back to Israel, and perhaps only a few hundred remain now. There were about seven Jewish groups in different parts of India like Kochi, Chennai, Nagercoil, Goa, Telugu areas, and others.

The Jews in India observe the Jewish festivals in their limited ways.

Rosh Hashanah:


The Jewish New Year meaning ‘head of the year’, often called the day of remembrance or Judgment, falls during September. This is the time each Jew reviews his relationship with God. The custom is to blow a ram’s horn (shofar), calling for spiritual awakening associated with the revelation to Moses. There are services in synagogues, and delicacies are served, bread and fruits, dipped in honey are customary, and a special blessing is recited.


Yom Kippur:


Yom Kippur is to effect individual and collective purification by the practice of forgiveness of the sins by others and by sincere repentance of one’s own sin against God. It is observed in September, beginning eight days after Rosh Hashanah, with 25 hours of intense praying, meditating, mostly in synagogues, wearing white with no make-up, or perfumes, fasting, giving for charity, and performing a mitzvah. Mitzvah stands for any good deed performed in following the divine commandment given in the Torah and offering gifts. Attending Yizkor by visiting the graves of dead relatives, is one of the best things to do on Yom Kippur.



(Late November to late December)

This is the Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and the subsequent rededication of the Second Temple. It is also the Festival of Lights, observed for eight nights from late November to late December. The candles of a unique candelabrum with nine branches, called the menorah (or Hanukkah) are lighted one each night, the last one on the final night. Attendees sing Hanukkah songs, play dreidel, eat oil-based foods, and dairy. Hanukkah is celebrated around the time of Christmas.