The Bene Israel ("Sons of Israel") are a group of Jews who migrated in the 19th century from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby Indian cities, primarily Mumbai, but also to Pune, and Ahmedabad. Prior to these waves of emigrations and to this day, the Bene Israel formed the largest sector of the subcontinent's Jewish population. The native language of the Bene Israel is Marathi. Most Bene Israel have now emigrated to Israel, several Commonwealth countries and the United States. The traditions of the community trace their descent to Jews who escaped persecution in Galilee in the 2nd century BCE, though the Bene Israel resemble the non-Jewish Maratha people in appearance and customs. The Bene Israel, however, maintained the practices of Jewish dietary laws, circumcision and observation of Sabbath as a day of rest. Under British hegemony, many Bene Israel rose to prominence.
Contributions by Sitush, Jonathansammy, and Jmabel.