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Hebrew School in Nineteenth-Century Bombay: Protestant Missionaries, Cochin Jews, and the Hebraization of India's Bene Israel Community*


This paper is a study of cultural interaction and diffusion in colonial Bombay. Focusing on Hebrew language instruction, it examines the encounter between India's little-known Bene Israel Jewish community and Protestant missionaries. Whilst eighteenth and nineteenth-century Cochin Jews were responsible for teaching the Bene Israel Jewish liturgy and forms of worship, the Bene Israel acquired Hebrew and Biblical knowledge primarily from nineteenth-century Protestant missionaries. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Bene Israel community was a Konkan jati with limited knowledge of Judaism. However, by the end of the century the community had become an Indian-Jewish community roughly analogous to other Jewish communities. This paper explores how this transformation occurred, detailing the content, motivation, and means by which British and American missionaries and, to a lesser extent, Cochin Jews instructed the Bene Israel in Jewish knowledge. Through a critical examination of neglected English and Marathi sources, it reconstructs the Bene Israel perspective in these encounters and their attitude towards the Christian missionaries who laboured amongst them. It demonstrates that the Bene Israel were active participants and selective consumers in their interaction with the missionaries, taking what they wanted most from the encounter: knowledge of the Old Testament and the Hebrew language. Ultimately, the instruction the Bene Israel received from Protestant missionaries did not convert them to Christianity but strengthened and transformed their Judaism.

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I am grateful to Andrew Esensten, Jonathan Esensten, Allen Greenberger, Sheree Meyer, and Albion Urdank for reading earlier drafts of this paper.

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1 Notices of Madras and Cuddalore in the Last Century: From the Journals and Letters of the Earlier Missionaries of the Society for the Promoting of Christian Knowledge (London: Longman, 1858), pp. 162–164. Known as the Kiryat Shema, this ancient Hebrew phrase forms the first part of the foremost prayer of Jewish liturgy: Shema.

2 In addition to referring to themselves as Israel and reciting the Kiryat Shema, eighteenth and nineteenth-century accounts reveal a number of other Jewish customs that can reasonably be attributed to the Bene Israel before their encounter with Cochin Jews, including circumcising their boys on the eighth day after birth, lighting no fire and performing no work on Saturdays, and eating only seafood with fins and scales. Although Bene Israel traditions and practices demonstrate that they were fully integrated in the Konkan as one of the region's many jatis, most of which maintained some distinct customs and traditions, this does not mean that they did not identify with other Jews. On the contrary, their interaction with Cochin Jews reveals a Jewish identity that cannot be denied; that is, even though they maintained a distinct Bene Israel identity and traditions, they nevertheless also possessed an identity that specifically connected them to other Jews who were also B'nai Yisrael.

3 Cochin Jews were active in the Indian Ocean trading network and had long maintained contact with Jews in other parts of the Diaspora. Evidence from India of Jews residing on the Malabar Coast exists from as early as 823 CE. For the most comprehensive account of Cochin Jewry, see Katz Nathan and Goldberg Ellen, The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1993).

4 Sargon Michael quoted in ‘Remains of the Ten Tribes’, Appendix in Innes Henry, A Letter to the Friends in Scotland of God's Ancient People: The Jews (Edinburgh: John Johnstone, 1838), pp. 4760.

5 John Wilson's first account of this tradition appears in an unpublished manuscript dated 23 February 1836, entitled, ‘Short account of a visit to Alibagh, including notices of the Beni-Israel, by John Wilson, D. D. of the Church of Scotland Mission, Bombay’, National Library of Scotland [hereafter NLS] MS7531.

6 Wolff Joseph, Researches and Missionary Labours Among the Jew, Mohammedans, and Other Sects (London: Joseph Wolff, 1835), pp. 494495; Fischel Walter ed., Unknown Jews in Unknown Lands: The Travels of Rabbi David D'Beth Hillel, 1824–1832 (New York: Ktav, 1973), p. 121.

7 See Kehimkar Haeem Samuel, A Sketch of the History of the Beni-Israel and an Appeal for their Education (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1892); Kehimkar, History of the Bene-Israel of India (Tel Aviv: Dayag Press, 1937). This last text was completed in 1897 but published posthumously.

8 H. S. Kehimkar interprets ‘land/province to the north’ to mean the Galilee or the northern region of Palestine. Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 12–14.

9 Bene Israel oral tradition recounts contact with a Medieval Jewish traveller named David Rahabi. Kehimkar, History of the Bene-Israel of India, pp. 13–14, 40–42. Moses Miamonides (1135–1204), whose brother, David, was active in the Indian Ocean trade, wrote to Lunel's Jews that the Jews of India ‘know nothing of religion except that they rest on Sabbath and perform circumcision on the eighth day’. Lord J. Henry, The Jews in India and the Far East (Kolhapur: Mission Press, 1907), App. III. Although it is unlikely that this letter refers to the Jews of the Malabar Coast, there is no evidence that Miamonides was referring to the Bene Israel. See Isenberg Shirley, India's Bene Israel: A Comprehensive Inquiry and Sourcebook (Berkeley: Judah Magnes Museum, 1988), pp. 2324.

10 Notices of Madras and Cuddalore, pp. 162–164.

11 For an English translation of Ezekiel Rahabi's letter, see Koder S. S., ‘A Hebrew Letter of 1768’, Journal of the Rama Varma Archaeological Society, Vol. 15 (1949), pp. 16.

12 Thomas Timberg calls this process ‘Hebraization,’ and argues that it is akin to Srinivas M. N.’ notion of Sanskritization. Timberg, ‘On Indian Jews’, in Timberg Thomas ed. Jews in India (New York: Advent Books, 1986), p. 7.

13 Documents from as early as 1786 note that the British were recruiting individuals of the ‘Native Jew Caste’ (Bene Israel) into the Bombay Army. Fischel Walter, ‘Bombay in Jewish History in the Light of New Documents from the Indian Archives’, Proceedings of American Academy for Jewish Research 38–39 (1970–1971), pp. 125126. According to Kehimkar, the Bene Israel began serving in the Bombay Army as early as 1760. Kehimkar, History of the Bene-Israel of India, p. 78.

14 Isenberg Shirley, ‘The Bene Israel Villagers of the Kolaba District: Generations, Cultural Change, Changing Identities’, in Katz Nathan ed. Studies of Indian Jewish Identity (New Delhi: Manohar, 1995), p. 89.

15 A Bene Israel soldier, Commandant Samaji Hassaji (Samuel Ezekiel) Divekar, Bombay Native Infantry, built Shaar HaRahamim apparently ‘out of gratitude for his miraculous deliverance from the massacre during the third Mysore War’. Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 78–79, 83–84, 255. See also Ranganathan Murali ed., Govind Narayan's Mumbai: An Urban Biography from 1863 (London: Anthem Press, 2009), p. 284.

16 On the beginnings of the American Marathi Mission, see Bruce Henry, ‘Literary Work of the American Marathi Mission: 1813–1881’, in Memorial Papers of the American Marathi Mission: 1813–1881 (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1882), pp. 7374; Sherring M. A., The History of Protestant Missions in India: From their Commencement in 1706 to 1781 (London: Tubner, 1875), pp. 247251; Historical Sketch of the Mission to the Mahrattas of Western India (New York: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1862), pp. 11–30; Hazen William, A Century in India: A Historical Sketch of the Marathi Mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Bombay: American Marathi Mission, 1913), pp. 112.

17 Bissell L., ‘History of the Educational Operations of the American Marathi Mission From its Commencement to 1881’, in Memorial Papers of the American Marathi Mission: 1813–1881 (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1882), p. 57.

18 Bardwell Horatio, Memoir of Rev. Gordon Hall (Andover: Flag, Gould, and Newman, 1834), pp. 170171.

19 Missionary Herald, December 1830, p. 379; January 1832, p. 2.

20 Missionary Herald, 1830, 379; Mann Cyrus, Memoir of Mrs Myra W. Allen, 2nd ed. (Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1834), p. 201n.

21 James Garrett, Statement Respecting the Native Free Schools in Bombay and its Vicinity Under the Care of the American Mission, December 31, 1827. Unlike most missionaries, the Americans usually referred to Marathi-speaking Jews as ‘Jews’ rather than as ‘Bene Israel’ or ‘Israelites’.

22 Garrett, Native Free Schools in Bombay.

23 Panoplist and Missionary Herald, January 1818, p. 41.

24 Missionary Herald, January 1820, p. 45. The Bene Israel, according to Horatio Bardwell, ‘generally pretend to read Hebrew, but they do not understand it’. Bardwell, Gordon Hall, pp. 170–171.

25 Missionary Herald, December 1825, p. 385.

26 Missionary Herald, June 1829, p. 170.

27 Missionary Herald, December 1825, p. 385.

28 Missionary Herald, June 1829, pp. 170–171.

29 Missionary Herald, July 1828, p. 206.

30 Missionary Herald, December 1830, p. 379. John Wilson confirmed the failure of this school to teach Hebrew literacy. See Wilson J., ‘Abstract of an Account of the Beni-Israel of Bombay, Read Before the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, at the Anniversary Meetings in November 1838, and 1839’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 11 (January 1840), p. 35.

31 See Mitchell John Murray, Memoir of the Rev. Robert Nesbit: Missionary of the Free Church of Scotland, Bombay (London: James Nisbet, 1858), p. 74.

32 Garrett, Native Free Schools in Bombay; Missionary Herald, December 1832, p. 385.

33 Hazen, Sketch of the Marathi Mission, p. 24.

34 Pardeshi (‘foreign’) is the emic term used by Cochin Jews for what is commonly referred to as Cochin's ‘White’ Jewish community.

35 Jewish Expositor and Friend of Israel, June 1820, pp. 228–232.

36 Jewish Expositor and Friend of Israel, November 1821, pp. 434–438.

37 Gidney W. T., History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews: From 1809–1909 (London: London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, 1908), p. 114.

38 Jewish Expositor and Friend of Israel November 1821, pp. 428–434.

39 ‘Remains of the Ten Tribes’, pp. 47–60; Gidney, History of the London Society, p. 114.

40 William Mitchell to Rev. Bickersteth, 24 Aug. 1826, Birmingham University Church Missionary Society Archives [hereafter CMS Archives] CI 3/0 53/64.

41 ‘Extracts from the Fifth Report of the Madras Jews’ Society’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 2 (January, 1831), pp. 34–35.

42 Garrett, Native Free Schools in Bombay.

43 Missionary Herald, December 1832, p. 385.

44 ‘Fifth Report of the Madras Jews’ Society’, pp. 34–35.

45 See Pinge Shrinivas Madusudhan, Yuropeyanacha Marathicha Amyas Va Sayva [European Study and Service to Marathi] (Mumbai: S. M. Pinge and the Marathi Research Institute, 1960).

46 ‘Fifth Report of the Madras Jews’ Society’, p. 35. Criticism of Sargon's Hebrew-focused curriculum should be seen as part of John Wilson's overall critique of education that neglected the vernacular languages. This is one of a number of issues that distinguished Wilson from the Calcutta-based Scottish missionary Alexander Duff. See Smith George, Life of John Wilson, D.D. F.R.S., For Fifty Years Philanthropist and Scholar in the East (London: John Murray, 1878), pp. 9394. Whereas both called for and sought to facilitate an Indian reformation analogous to the Protestant Reformation, Wilson insisted: ‘No reformation has ever taken place. . .through ministrations or efforts conducted through a foreign or antiquated medium’. Wilson John, ‘Comment on the Speech of Sir Erskine Perry’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 11 2nd Ser. (June 1848), p. 218. Pace Andrew Porter, during Wilson's lifetime Hebrew was not a vernacular language in Bombay or anywhere else. Porter A., Religion Versus Empire? British Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), pp. 107108. On the contrary, in Bombay, Hebrew was considered a ‘classical’ language analogous to Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian.

47 Israel Benjamin, The Bene Israel of India: Some Studies (Bombay: Orient Longman, 1984), pp. 6768.

48 Proceedings of the Corresponding Committee of the Bombay CMS, 20 Oct. 1846, CMS Archives CI 3/0 1-60; Missionary Register, February 1848, p. 165.

49 Report of the Bombay or Western India Auxiliary Church Missionary Society: For the Year M.DCCC.LIV (Bombay, 1855), p. ix.

50 M. Sargon to J. Chapman, 5 Jan. 1857, 31 Dec. 1857, 31 Dec. 1858, 31 Dec. 1859, CMS Archives CI 3/0 64.

51 Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 66–67.

52 See Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, p. 69; Roland Joan, Jews in British India: Identity in a Colonial Era (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1989), p. 276n18.

53 M. Sargon to J. Chapman, 5 Jan. 1857, 31 Dec. 1857, 31 Dec. 1858, 31 Dec. 1859, CMS Archives CI 3/0 64.

54 See Church Missionary Record, July 1844, p. 156; Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 261–264.

55 Bardwell, Gordon Hall, pp. 170–171.

56 The Scottish missionary J. M. Mitchell considered it ‘remarkable’ that the Bene Israel would attend a school run by a Jewish convert to Christianity. Missionary Register, May 1842, p. 229.

57 Several examples of this position can be found in the archival records of the CMS Bombay Mission. See e.g. Andrew Frost to J. S. Robertson, 19 Aug. 1859, CMS Archives CI 3/0 1/117-118; C. W. Isenberg to CMS Bombay Corresponding Comm., 24 July 1858, CMS Archives CI 3/0 1/117–118; J. S. Robertson to CMS Corresponding Comm., 30 April 1853, CMS Archives CI 3/0 1/65.

58 Church Missionary Record, July 1844, p. 156. The London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Amongst the Jews's sixteenth report made the same argument about Sargon vis-à-vis Cochin Jewry. See Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, pp. 67–68.

59 Israel Dharmadip, 9 December 1881, p. 45.

60 Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, pp. 59–60.

61 In 1821 or 1822, for instance, T. Jarret and M. Sargon reported that the children of Bene Israel sepoys stationed in Cochin were attending the ‘Hebrew White Jews’ school’ in Jew Town. ‘Remains of the Ten Tribes’, pp. 47–60.

62 Fischel, ‘Bombay in Jewish history’, p. 140.

63 Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 65–69, 73.

64 At the end of the nineteenth century, whereas Cochin Jews employed at the Bene Israel-run Israelite School taught Hebrew cantillation (ritual chanting) to the Bene Israel students, the responsibility for teaching Hebrew grammar was left to a Bene Israel teacher. See 2nd Annual Report of the Israelite School of the Anglo-Jewish Association, 1882–1883.

65 Scholars of South Asia routinely reduce Judaism to one manifestation of what is frequently referred to as ‘Western notions of religion’. Often, ‘Hinduism’ is presented as a religion distinct from and in contrast to ‘Judeo-Christian’ ideas of religion. Yet, ‘Judaism,’ in many respects, has more in common with ‘Hinduism’ than it does with ‘Christianity’. In fact, much of what is taken to be Hinduism's characteristics that distinguish it from ‘Judeo-Christian’ or ‘Western notions of religion’ can usually be applied to Judaism. For Frits Staal, ‘Western religion’ and ‘Western notions of religion’ denote Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. These religions, according to Staal, emphasize doctrines and orthodoxy, while Asian religions emphasize orthopraxy, teachers, birth, and ancestors. Staal F., Rules Without Meaning: Ritual, Mantras, and the Human Sciences (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), pp. 387406. Historically, however, Judaism has stressed much more of what Staal describes as the characteristics of ‘Asian religion’ than what he describes as ‘Western religion’.

66 Fischel Walter, Hagadat Bene Yisrael: The Haggadah of the Bene Israel of India (New York: Orphan Hospital Ward of Israel, 1968). A seder is the ceremonial Passover dinner.

67 Ashkenazi David Yehudah, Israelanche Panchang [Calendar of Israel] (Bombay: Ganpat Krishnaji, 1854).

68 Tanach is the Hebrew acronym for the Jewish Bible (Old Testament).

69 Parashah is the weekly Torah reading.

70 Hoftorah is the reading from the Neviim (Prophets) portion of the Tanach read or chanted after the Torah.

71 Maftir is the final Sabbath service and the weekly Torah portion's final reading.

72 The Shulchan Arukh is Joseph Caro's sixteenth-century text considered as the most authoritative compilation of Jewish law, or Halacha.

73 Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, p. 346.

74 Ibid., pp. 350–351.

75 Ashkenazi, Israelanche Panchang, p. 1.

76 Fischel Walter, ‘Literary Activities of the “Bene-Israel” in India’, in Steinbach A. ed., Jewish Book Annual #297 (New York, 1971–1972), p. 7.

77 Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’.

78 Fischel, ‘Bombay in Jewish History’, pp. 138–139. For a description of the tension between the Bombay Baghdadi Jews and the Bene Israel, see Roland, Jews in British India.

79 Kehimkar, History of the Bene-Israel, pp. 47, 65.

80 Bene Israelite, 1 May 1896, p. 2. See also Bene Israelite, 4 August 1896, pp. 2–3. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wealthy Baghdadis—such as David Solomon Sassoon and Elly Kadourie—began financially supporting the Bene Israel by donating money to the Israelite School and establishing a Hebrew scholarship at Bombay University. At the end of the nineteenth century, Yemenite Jews began to work as hazzanim in Bene Israel synagogues. Lord J. Henry, ‘The Beni-Israel of the Bombay Presidency’, Indian Church Quarterly Review, Vol. 6 (July, 1893), p. 387; J. H. Lord, ‘The Beni-Israel in the Villages around Bombay’, Bombay Diocesan Record (1886), pp. 74–76. From 1838 to 1932, Aden formed part of the Bombay Presidency.

81 Smith, Life of John Wilson, Chapter 1.

82 Wilson, The Evangelization of India: Considered with Reference to the Duties of the Christian Church at Home and of its Missionary Agents Abroad (Edinburgh: William Whyte, 1849).

83 It is useful to contrast Wilson and his Bombay colleagues’ mastery of several Indian vernacular and classical languages, and their insistence that missionaries master vernacular languages, with the Calcutta-based missionary Alexander Duff, who possessed only a rudimentary knowledge of Bengali. According to M. A. Laird, Duff, a Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlander, ‘did not think it worth his while to acquire a mastery of Bengali during his early years in India’. Laird M. A., Missionaries and Education in Bengal 1793–1837 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 208; Pace Tucker Richard, Wilson was in no way ‘Alexander Duff's protégé’. Tucker R., ‘Hindu Traditionalism and Nationalist Ideologies in Nineteenth-Century Maharashtra’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 10 (July 1976), p. 322.

84 See, inter alia, Wilson John, An Exposure of the Hindu Religion (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1832), Wilson J., The Six Schools of Indian Philosophy (Bombay: L. M. De Souza Press, 1856), Wilson J., India Three Thousand Years Ago (1858; repr., Varanasi: Indological Book House, 1962), Wilson J., ‘Reply to Ha'ji’ Muhammad Ha'shim's Defense of the Islamic Faith’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 4 (May 1833), pp. 177185, (June 1833), pp. 225–231, (July 1833), pp. 286–299, (August 1833), pp. 336–339, Wilson J., The Parsi Religion: As contained in the Zand-Avasta, and Propounded and Defended by the Zoroastrians of India and Persia (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1843), J. Wilson, Indian Caste (1877; repr., New Delhi: Deep Publications, 1976), Wilson J., Aboriginal Tribes of the Bombay Presidency (Bombay: Government Central Press, 1876), Wilson J., ‘Translation of the General Siroze of the Parsis’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 4 (1837), pp. 292303, Wilson J., Lecture on the Religious Excavations of Western India, Buddhist, Brahmanical, and Jaina (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1875).

85 Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, pp. 27–36. John Wilson published two other works specifically on the Bene Israel: Wilson J., The Bene-Israel of Bombay: An Appeal for their Christian Education, 2nd edn (Edinburgh: Thomas Constable, 1865); Wilson J., ‘The Beni-Israel of Bombay’, Indian Antiquary, Vol. 3 (November 1874), pp. 321323. Missionary sources, if used critically, are vital to reconstruct Bene Israel history before the late nineteenth century. On the use of missionary sources and archives in Indian history, see Oddie Geoffrey, ‘Missionaries as Social Commentators: The India Case’, in Bickers Robert and Seton Rosemary eds, Missionary Encounters: Sources and Issues (Richmond: Curzon, 1996), pp. 197210.

86 Israel, Bene Israel of India, p. 67.

87 John Wilson to Alexander Brunton, 10 Jul. 1838, NLS MS7531.

88 In 1835 the Scottish Missionary Society's Bombay mission was transferred to the missionary operations of the Church of Scotland. With the 1843 Disruption, all of Bombay Presidency's Scottish missionaries, apart from John Stevenson, joined the Free Church of Scotland. Hunter Robert, History of the Missions of the Free Church of Scotland in India and Africa (London: Nelson, 1873), p. 221.

89 In that same year, only about ten per cent of the students at Bombay's English-medium Free General Assembly's Institution were Bene Israel. Proceedings and Debates in the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland: Held at Edinburgh, May 1859 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1859), App. 2, pp. 9–10.

90 Murray Ian, The Puritan Hope: A Study in Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971).

91 Van Den Berg Johannes, Constrained By Jesus’ Love: An Inquiry into the Motives of the Missionary Awakening in Great Britain in the Period Between 1698 and 1815 (Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1956), pp. 163164; Fleming J. R., A History of the Church in Scotland: 1875–1929 (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1933), pp. 170171; Piggin Stuart, Making Evangelical Missionaries 1789–1858: The Social Background, Motives and Training of British Protestant Missionaries to India (Abingdon: Sutton Courtenay Press, 1984), pp. 145146.

92 ‘Extract of a Letter from the Journal of the Rev. J. Mitchell’, Scottish Missionary and Philanthropic Register, Vol. 9 (March 1828), p. 99.

93 Smith, Life of John Wilson, p. 68. Two weeks earlier, CMS missionary John Dixon noted that he and John Wilson visited Bene Israel families. CMS Archives C I 3 M/1, Journal of J. Dixon, 15 January 1831.

94 ‘Proceedings of the Scottish Missions at Bankote, Hurnee, Bombay, and Poona’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 2 (March, 1831), p. 103.

95 Wilson John, ‘Report of the Bombay Station of the Scottish Mission for 1833’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 5 (January, 1834), p. 32.

96 Smith, Life of John Wilson, p. 59; Wilson John, Memoir of Mrs Margaret Wilson, of the Scottish Mission, Bombay (Edinburgh: John Johnstone, 1838), pp. 263265. According to one scholar, this rabbi was the European Jewish traveller David D'beth Hillel. Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, p. 72.

97 Mitchell John Murray, In Western India: Recollections of My Early Missionary Life (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1899), p. 91n1.

98 James Aitken to Alexander Brunton, 1 Mar. 1841, NLS MS7532. Here one finds a Jewish and Hebrew example of what has been labelled ‘constructive’ and ‘practical’ Orientalism—a pedagogical programme associated with James Ballantyne and Lancelot Wilkinson that sought to introduce Western (and Christian) knowledge to Indians by means of Hindu intellectual traditions. See Bayly C. A., Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780–1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Dodson Michael S., Orientalism, Empire, and National Culture: India, 1770–1880 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Boman-Behram B. K., Educational Controversies in India: The Cultural Conquest of India under British Imperialism (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons, 1943). Apropos, John Wilson praised Wilkinson and Ballantyne's pedagogical programmes. Wilson John, ‘On the use of the Sanskrit Language and Literature in Native Education’, in Sheshadri Narayan and Wilson John, The Darkness and the Dawn in India: Two Missionary Discourses (Edinburgh: William Whyte, 1853), App., pp. 120125. In fact, J. Wilson and J. M. Mitchell used elements of the Hindu tradition that they deemed corresponded with Christianity as a means to spread the Gospel through vernacular traditions. See Numark Mitch, ‘Translating Dharma: Scottish Missionary-Orientalists and the Politics of Religious Understanding in Nineteenth-Century Bombay’, Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 70 (May 2011), pp. 471500. Significantly, Wilson characterized his educational philosophy as a combination of the ‘two great educational parties in India, the Anglicists and Orientalists’. Wilson, Evangelization of India, pp. 78–81. It would be a mistake to assert that the British in India could not and did not reconcile their goal of ‘moral and intellectual improvement’ with an Orientalist educational programme.

99 In March 1819, Hall reported that Alibag's Bene Israel recounted to him the story of Abraham smashing idols in his father's workshop—a story not found in the Bible, but in the Midrash Genesis Rabbah and the Qur'an. Missionary Herald, January 1820, p. 46.

100 ‘Religious Intelligence’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 13 (April 1842), p. 182; Missions of the Free Church of Scotland in India and Africa, March 1868, pp. 1–3.

101 Mitchell, Memoir of the Rev. Robert Nesbit, p. 247.

102 Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, p. 35n.

103 Reciting prayers from sacred texts in languages that were not understood (e.g. Sanskrit, Avestan, Pahlavi, Arabic, and Latin) was a complaint that the Bombay Scottish missionaries levelled against virtually all of Bombay's communities. Wilson, who extensively toured the Middle East, also complained that Middle Eastern Jews often did not know the Hebrew they chanted. See Numark, ‘Translating Dharma’.

104 Wilson John, Ibri Bhashaiche Vyakaran [Rudiments of Hebrew Grammar] (Bombay, 1832), p. 1.

105 The Serampore missionaries published a Marathi Old Testament in 1819. However, because it was in the Nagpur dialect and ‘poorly printed’ in an ‘antiquated style’ of the Modi script it ‘proved useless for general circulation in the Marathi country’. Hooper J. S. M., The Bible in India (London: Oxford University Press, 1938), p. 75. In the 1830s a Marathi Translation Committee of the Bombay Bible Society was formed with Wilson as secretary. From that time, provisional translations of Old Testament books were printed (sometimes explicitly for the Bene Israel), revised, and reprinted. Not until 1853 did the Marathi Old Testament appear as a single volume. Wilson John, ‘Historical View of the Operations of the Bombay Auxiliary Bible Society, particularly in the Translation and Circulation of the Holy Scriptures’, in Jubilee Commemoration at Bombay of the British and Foreign Bible Society (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1854), pp. 1250.

106 Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, p. 35n; Missions of the Free Church of Scotland in India and Africa, March 1868, pp. 1–3.

107 See e.g. Wilson Charles, Elements of Hebrew Grammar 2nd edn (Edinburgh, 1794), Frey J. S. C. F., A New Edition of a Hebrew Grammar, Considerably Altered, and Much Enlarged (New York: S. Hoyt, 1831), Stuart Moses, A Hebrew Grammar: With a Praxis on Select Portions of Genesis and the Psalms (Andover, New Hampshire: Flagg and Gould, 1823).

108 Wilson, Ibri Bhashaiche Vyakaran, pp. 107–141.

109 Wilson John, ‘Report of the Bombay Station of the Scottish Mission for 1832’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 4 (February, 1833), pp. 7273; Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, p. 35n.

110 Wilson, ‘Bombay Station of the Scottish Mission for 1832’, pp. 72–73.

111 Wolff Joseph, Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. (London: Saunders, Otley, and Co., 1860), p. 233. For an account of J. Wolff's interaction with Shia mujtahids in north Indian, see Powell Avril, Muslims and Missionaries in Pre-Mutiny India (Richmond: Curzon, 1993), Chapter. 4.

112 Wolff, Travels and Adventures, pp. 6–9.

113 Wilson, ‘Account of a visit to Alibagh’.

114 Piggin, Making Evangelical Missionaries, p. 145.

115 Mitchell John Murray, Tables of Hebrew Grammatical Forms: Drawn Up for the Use of the Beni-Israel (Bombay, 1844).

116 ‘Religious Intelligence’, p. 182.

117 Mitchell J. M. quoted in Thirty-Eighth Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society (London: W. Oliphant, 1842), p. lxix.

118 Ibid.

119 Smith, Life of John Wilson, p. 124. Other Scots shared this sentiment. Take, for example, J. M. Mitchell's remarks on a Bene Israel school he visited: ‘I have seldom, even in a Sabbath-school in Scotland, felt my heart more drawn out towards any children, than towards the gentle and intelligent pupils of the Ambepur school’. Jewish Intelligence, September 1842, p. 308.

120 John Wilson to Stevenson Macgill, 25 Feb. 1839, NLS MS7531; Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, p. 35; Wilson, Bene-Israel of Bombay, pp. 16–17.

121 Piggin, Making Evangelical Missionaries, pp. 145–146.

122 Wilson to Macgill, 25 Feb. 1839, NLS MS7531; Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, p. 35; Wilson, Bene-Israel of Bombay, pp. 16–17.

123 Mitchell, Memoir of the Rev. Robert Nesbit, pp. 245–246.

124 Mitchell John Murray, ‘Free Church of Scotland's Mission’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 1 3rd ser. (January, 1850), p. 26; Mitchell, In Western India, pp. 87–92. In their reports, Scottish missionaries usually parsed the peoples of Bombay into the following categories/communities: Christians/Converts; Roman Catholics; Jews; Muslims; Parsis; Jains; and Hindus.

125 Mitchell, In Western India, p. 91.

126 Mitchell John Murray, ‘Journal of a Tour Chiefly in the District of A'liba'g’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 9 2nd Ser. (July, 1848), pp. 247314.

127 Mitchell, Robert Nesbit, pp. 245–246.

128 John Wilson subscribed to the common Christian idea that Rabbinism, rather than Judaism per se, was, apart from the Karaites, world Jewry's de facto religion. Rabbinism was considered a religious ‘corruption’ created by crafty ‘priests’ (rabbis) that undervalued the ‘word of God’ by placing ‘tradition’ (Talmud) as an equal or greater authority to the Bible. This is why the Karaites were often depicted as ‘the Protestants of Judaism’. Significantly, Wilson and others explicitly posited Rabbinism as the Jewish equivalent of the great ‘corruption’ of Christianity: Roman Catholicism. See Numark, ‘Translating Dharma’.

129 The Bene Israel who converted to Christianity in 1871 eventually renounced his conversion. Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, p. 347.

130 J. Henry Lord, ‘Work Amongst the Beni-Israel of Poona’, Bombay Diocesan Record (August, 1883), p. 112.

131 Jewish Intelligence, July 1841, p. 229.

132 In one home where this occurred the Bene Israel iconoclasts told the dissenter: ‘Complain to Government if you choose, but you shall not worship idols’. One Bene Israel did just that and complained to his rajah that ‘his countrymen would not let him worship the Hindoo gods’. The rajah rebuked him and informed him that he must worship as his caste worships. Jewish Intelligence, September 1842, p. 307.

133 Mitchell, ‘Tour Chiefly in the District of A'liba'g’, pp. 247–314.

134 J. H. Lord, ‘Work Amongst the Beni-Israel’, p. 112.

135 Mitchell, In Western India, pp. 91–92.

136 Israel, Bene Israel of India, p. 67. Hebrew study at Bombay University was not entirely free from Christian missionaries because R. S. Robertson and J. Henry Lord occasionally served as Hebrew Examiners.

137 2nd Annual Report of the Israelite School of the Anglo-Jewish Association, 1882–1883.

138 Ibid.

139 Report of Work in the Girls’ Schools of the F. C. Poona Mission for 1881.

140 The Bene Israel claimed that the existence of the Israelite School led to the closing of two Christian missionary schools. See Lord J. Henry, Jewish Mission Field in the Bombay Diocese (Bombay, 1894), p. 17. London's Jewish Chronicle called this feat ‘a remarkable triumph’. Jewish Chronicle, 10 May 1883, p. 3.

141 J. Henry Lord, ‘Beni-Israel of the Bombay’, p. 388; J. Henry Lord, ‘Beni-Israel in the Villages around Bombay’, Bombay Diocesan Record (July, 1885 to December, 1886), p. 75.

142 St. Augustine's College, Canterbury: Occasional Papers no. 235 (Canterbury, 1884), p. 20.

143 Jewish Intelligence, July 1841, p. 231.

144 J. H. Lord, Jews in India, p. 5.

145 Wilson, ‘Bombay Station of the Scottish Mission for 1832’, pp. 72–73. See also Church Missionary Record, March 1840, p. 57.

146 Israel Dharmadip, 24 October 1884, p. 25; 19 June 1885, pp. 158–162; 28 August 1885, pp. 201–204; 7 July 1893, pp. 54–55; Israel Mitra, July–August 1899, p. 7. To aid in their resistance to Christian criticism, the Bene Israel procured and translated into Marathi controversial anti-Christian tracks written by English Jews. See J. H. Lord, Jewish Mission Field, p. 13; J. H. Lord, ‘Beni-Israel of the Bombay’, p. 388.

147 Bene Israelite, 6 December 1895, p. 5; Israel Dharmadip, 19 June 1885, pp. 158–162.

148 Israel Dharmadip, 9 February 1883, p. 81; 2 May 1884, p. 140; 18 June 1884, pp. 165–166; 2 February 1894, pp. 10–11. Significantly, a few Bene Israel converted to Christianity during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. See Hewat Elizabeth, Christ and Western India: A Study of the Growth of the Indian Church in Bombay City from 1813, 2nd edn. (Bombay: Wilson College 1953), pp. 259261.

149 See Israel Dhramadip, 27 January 1882, p. 69. Bene Israel attended D. Saraswati's January 1882 Bombay lectures. Although they were inspired by his defence of his religion, they were not impressed with his criticism of Christianity, which is not surprising since Saraswati would have probably criticized the Tanach. Israel Dharmadip, 24 February 1882, pp. 84–85. On Saraswati's criticism of Christianity, see Jones Kenneth, ‘Swami Dayananda Saraswati's Critique of Christianity’, in Jones Kenneth ed., Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages (Albany: State University of New Work Press, 1992), pp. 5276.

150 Israel Mitra, July and August 1899, pp. 1–3.

151 Bene Israel kajis or kazis were the traditional hereditary religious authorities from the Rajpurkar, Jhiratkar, and Shapurkar families who officiated religious ceremonies, acted as community judges, and—for much of the nineteenth century—administered the oath to Bene Israel in Bombay courts. At the end of the century, however, the kajis qua kajis had ‘ceased to hold any authority in the community’. Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 41–47, 250–251.

152 S. Reinemann quoted in Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, pp. 341–342.

153 On J. E. Rajpurkar, see Solomon Sarah, ‘Life of Mr. Joseph Ezekiel Rajpurkar, J.P.’, Israelite, Vol. 9 (July–August, 1925), pp. 9799; Harris Isadore ed., Jewish Year Book (London: Greenberg, 1904), p. 326; Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. ‘Joseph Ezekiel’.

154 See Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel of India, p. 239. Kehimkar's histories were in part written to defend the Bene Israel's Jewishness from the Baghdadi challenge. See Numark Mitch, ‘Constructing a Jewish Nation in Colonial India: History, Narratives of Descent and the Vocabulary of Modernity’, Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, and Society, Vol. 7 (Winter, 2001), pp. 89113.

155 S. Reinmann quoted in Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, p. 342.

156 J. H. Lord, ‘Beni-Israel of the Bombay’, p. 377n.

157 Jewish Chronicle, 10 August 1900, pp. 12–13. Notwithstanding his contribution, Rajpurkar insisted that he was not satisfied with the Bible Society's translation. See Israel Dharmadip 4 October 1895, pp. 177–178.

158 Ezekiel Joseph (Rajpurkar), Kethoneth Yoseph: A Hand-Book of Hebrew Abbreviations, with their Explanations in Hebrew and English, for the use of Students of the Oral Law and Rabbinical Literature (Bombay: Anglo-Jewish and Vernacular Press, 1887), p. i.

159 Mitchell, In Western India, p. 91. Ezekiel Moses Ezekiel (Talkar), a graduate of the Free General Assembly Institution and the second Bene Israel Hebrew Examiner at Bombay University, contended that, although much of Rajpurkar's knowledge of Hebrew was ‘self-acquired’, he learned the basics of Hebrew from Wilson. Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. ‘Joseph Ezekiel’.

160 Even H. S. Kehimkar, who attended a CMS school and whose father taught in Christian missionary schools, downplays the missionary role in teaching the Bene Israel Hebrew and Jewish knowledge. Others from the Bene Israel community were even more adamant. See Bene Israelite, 1 May 1896, pp. 1–2.

161 The 19 May 1882 issue of the Bombay Cassid, a Gujarati-language Muslim periodical, contained an article, based on a report from a correspondent in Basra, claiming that Jews mix the ‘flesh and blood of a Mohamedan’ with flour for the bread (matza) they consumed during an April holiday (Passover). In addition, the Cassid described a ritual resembling host desecration in which Jews symbolically tortured the Prophet Muhammad by piercing a red fruit with knives. A retraction was printed after Rajpurkar informed the editors of the fictitious nature of the libel. Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, pp. 96–98. See also Israel Dharmadip, 2 June 1883, pp. 138–140. On the introduction of the blood libel into the Islamic world, see Lewis Bernard, The Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), Chapter. 4.

162 Solomon, ‘Joseph Ezekiel Rajpurkar’, pp. 98–99. Like other late nineteenth-century Indian socio-religious reform organizations, the Israel Lokancha Sudronshodak Mandali and the Israeli Lokancha Paropakari Mandali (Bene Israel Benevolent Society) made effective use of the printing press, called upon their community to ‘return to past purity’, and advocated the hardening of religious boundaries. One Bene Israel periodical could have been speaking for any of a number of socio-religious reform movements when it declared that its objective was ‘to promote the spread of religious knowledge in our community’ and ‘to ameliorate the social condition of our people’. Israel Mitra, January 1898, p. 1. For an account of socio-religious reform movements in colonial India, see Jones Kenneth, Socio Religious Reform Movements in British India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

163 Solomon, ‘Joseph Ezekiel Rajpurkar’, pp. 98–99.

164 See, inter alia, Rajpurkar Joseph Ezekiel, Antiochos Rajacha Itihaas [History of King Antiochus] (Bombay: Bene-Israel Improvement Society, 1866); Rajpurkar J. E., Prayaschittachya Divasachi Prarthana [Prayers of the Day of Atonement] (Bombay: Bene-Israel Improvement Society, 1867); Rajpurkar J. E., Sadguruvachanen athava Nitisastra [Sayings of the True Guru and the Science of Morals] (Bombay: Bene-Israel Improvement Society, 1870); Rajpurkar J. E., Israelanche Pracheen Itihasanteel Goshtical Kalanukram [Chronology of Ancient Israelite History] (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1880); Rajpurkar J. E., Israeli Dharmache Khare Swaroop: Mhanje Israeli Dharmache Tera Mulattvavar Israelachya Zunya Prathanamandiri Kelela Dharmopadesh [True Nature of Israelite Dharma: Being Discourses on the Thirteen Articles of the Israelite Dharma] (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1879); Rajpurkar J. E., Nityache Prathana [Daily Prayers] 2nd edn. (1889; Bombay: Bombay Hebrew Publishing and Printing Press, 1934); Rajpurkar J. E., Israelanchi Panchoposhne [Five Israelite Fasts] (Bombay: Nirnaya-Sagara Press, 1890); Rajpurkar J. E., Israelache Triparvotsa Mhanje: Sukkot, Pesah, va Shavuot [Prayers of Three Great Israelite Festivals: Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot] (Bombay: Nirnaya-Sagara Press, 1901).

165 Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, pp. 347–348.

166 Rajpurkar Joseph Ezekiel, Israelache Dharmamattavishaye Shastrateel Pramane [Scripture Proofs of the Doctrines of the Israelite Dharma](Bombay: Bene-Israel Improvement Society, 1876).

167 See ‘Religious Intelligence’, p. 182.

168 Rajpurkar Joseph Ezekiel, Ibri Laghu Vyakaran: He Israel Lokaancha Mulaankarita [Elementary Hebrew Grammar: For Bene Israel Children] (Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1882). Here one finds Rajpurkar stressing an idea many modern religious reform movements in India promoted: ‘truth lay in the text, and that it was the duty of their adherents to study these writings in order to find within them a key to proper moral and spiritual life’. Jones, Socio Religious Reform Movements, pp. 213–214. In 1892, the Bene Israel Society for Promoting Moral and Religious Instruction among the Hebrews began a fund to ‘get the Scriptures translated by a Committee of Jews knowing the Hebrew, English, and Marathi languages’ and to print cheap editions for the Bene Israel community. See Bene Israelite, 1 April 1896, p. 2. Bene Israel periodicals echoed this position and called upon Rajpurkar to translate the Tanach into Marathi. Israel Dharmadip, 1 November 1895, pp. 189–191.

169 Rajpurkar, Sadguruvachanen athava Nitisastra, p. 2.

170 Solomon, ‘Joseph Ezekiel Rajpurkar’, p. 98.

171 Over the last two decades scholarship on Christian missions in India has greatly enriched our understanding of colonial India. See e.g. Bellenoit Hayden, Missionary Education and Empire in Late Colonial India, 1860–1920 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2007); Copley Antony, Religions in Conflict: Ideology, Cultural Contact and Conversion in Late Colonial India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997); Cox Jeffery, Imperial Fault Lines: Christianity and Colonial Power in India (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002); Kent Eliza, Converting Women: Gender and Protestant Christianity in Colonial South India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Mallampalli Chandra, Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863–1937: Contending with Marginality (London: Routledge 2004); Oddie Geoffrey, Missionaries, Rebellion and Proto-Nationalism: James Long of Bengal 1814–87 (Richmond: Curzon, 1999); Studdert-Kennedy Gerald, British Christians, Indian Nationalists and the Raj (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991); Studdert-Kennedy , Providence and the Raj: Imperial Mission and Missionary Imperialism (New Delhi: Sage, 1998). Notwithstanding the quality of this work and its contribution to the field, Bombay has been almost entirely overlooked. For one of the few exceptions to this trend, see Conlon Frank, ‘The Polemic Process in Nineteenth-Century Maharashtra: Vishnubawa Brahmachari and Hindu Revival’, in Jones Kenneth ed., Religious Controversies in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), pp. 526. Although Geoffrey Oddie in Imagined Hinduism: British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793–1900 (New Delhi: Sage, 2005) examines J. M. Mitchell's ideas of Hinduism, he concentrates on Bengal and south India. Recent work has also largely concentrated on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Scholarship on the topic from the 1960s and 1970s also devoted, at best, only brief attention to Bombay. This lacuna is unfortunate for many reasons, not least because a focus on Bombay enables one to examine how Protestant missionaries interacted with several religious communities.

172 Porter Andrew, ‘“Cultural Imperialism” and Protestant Missionary Enterprise, 1780–1914’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 25 (September, 1997), p. 375.

173 Along with their Jewish identity the Bene Israel retained a distinct Bene Israel identity. In their English and Marathi writings, J. E. Rajpurkar, H. S. Kehimkar, and the contributors to nineteenth-century Bene Israel periodicals usually refer to the Bene Israel as ‘Bene Israel’ and ‘Israelites’. It is apropos that Rajpurkar almost invariably renders ‘Judaism’ or the ‘religion of the Bene Israel’ into Marathi as ‘Israel Dharma’ rather than the more literal ‘Yehudi Dharma’. This should not be seen as a manifestation of J. Wilson's early nineteenth-century assertion that the Bene Israel repudiated ‘the designation Jew’. Wilson, ‘Account of the Beni-Israel’, p. 35. Instead, the Bene Israel preference for the nomenclature ‘Bene Israel’ should be seen as an expression of their peculiar history, traditions, and identity. See Numark, ‘Constructing a Jewish Nation’, pp. 93, 109n20.

174 For a detailed exploration of this, see Numark, ‘Constructing a Jewish Nation’.

175 Kehimkar, History of the Bene Israel, p. 65. This holiday is now known as Malida San (holiday) and Tu Bishvat. According to Bene Israel tradition, Elijah visited the Bene Israel at Khandalla, near Alibag. On a large rock peculiar indentations appear that the Bene Israel interpret as marks left by Elijah's chariot and horses. On Eliyahu Hanabicha Urs Bene Israel often visit the site to perform a malida (ritual offering to God). J. H. Lord characterized Eliyahu Hanabicha Urs as the Bene Israel equivalent of the Hindu Mela and Muslim Urs. Lord, Jews in India, pp. 38–39. When visiting the site in 2006 the Hindu caretaker told me that ‘Ghodedev’ (horse god) made the indentations that the Bene Israel attribute to Elijah. Scholars have examined the ways in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians in India have shared religious traditions, practices, spaces and sites and maintained overlapping and fluid community identities and boundaries. See e.g. Bayly Susan, Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society 1700–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Eaton Richard M., The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Oberoi Harjot, The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity, and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); Roy Asim, The Islamic Syncretistic Traditions of Bengal (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983); Stewart Tony K., ‘Alternate Structures of Authority: Satya Pir on the Frontiers of Bengal’, in Gilmartin David and Lawrence Bruce eds, Beyond Turk and Hindu: Rethinking Religious Identities in Islamicate South Asia (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2000), pp. 2154. The Bombay Scottish missionaries considered such phenomena as religious ‘confusion’. See Numark, ‘Translating Dharma’.

176 Lord J. Henry, ‘Bene Israel’, in Hastings James ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1909), p. 474.

177 Malida is the Bene Israel ritual offering to God—and the name of the dish (poha, coconut, fruits, and sweet-smelling herbs and flowers) that comprises the offering—in the name of Elijah the Prophet. Nothing like the malida ceremony exists amongst Cochin, Baghdadi, or Yemenite Jews. However, the malida has much in common with ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ practices such as puja and offerings made to pirs at dargahs. After the blessing is said invoking Elijah, the malida is distributed for consumption in a manner similar to the distribution of prasada. See Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, pp. 111–117; Israel, Bene Israel of India, p. 24.

178 See Bellenoit, Missionary Education and Empire; Porter, ‘“Cultural Imperialism” and Protestant Missionary Enterprise’.

179 See Farquhar John N., The Crown of Hinduism (London, 1913; reprint, 2nd edn, New Delhi: Oriental Reprint, 1971); Moulton James H., The Treasure of the Magi: A Study of Modern Zoroastrianism (London: Oxford University Press, 1917), chaps. 7–8; Sharpe Eric J., Not to Destroy But to Fulfil: The Contribution of J. N. Farquhar to Protestant Missionary Thought in India before 1915 (Uppsala: Gleerup, 1965).

180 Bellenoit, Missionary Education and Empire, pp. 28–29, 66–67.

181 Cheriyan P., The Malabar Syrians and the Church Missionary Society 1816–1840 (Kottayam: Church Missionary Society Press, 1935), Chapter 5.

182 ‘Syrian Christians at Travancore’, Oriental Christian Spectator, Vol. 4 (January, 1833), p. 26.

183 Missionary Register, November 1820, p. 487.

184 Visvanathan Susan, The Christians of Kerala: History, Belief and Ritual among the Yakoba (Madras: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 20.

185 For examinations of the Syrian encounter with Protestant missionaries, see Bayly, Saints, Goddesses and Kings, Chapter 8; Neill Stephen, A History of Christianity in India 1707–1858 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), Chapter 11.

186 Bayly, Saints, Goddesses and Kings, p. 282.

187 Ibid., pp. 296–302. However, conflict with the Anglican officials and the CMS ‘never extinguished reform’ within the Jacobite Syrian Church, which ‘gradually grafted reform doctrines onto ancient institutions’. Frykenberg Robert Eric, ‘Christian Missions and the Raj’, in Etherington Norman ed., Missions and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 121123.

188 Bayly, Saints, Goddesses and Kings, Chapter. 8.

189 For discussions of the meaning and politics of ‘sati’, see Hawley John Stratton ed. Sati the Blessing and the Curse: The Burning of Wives in India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

190 Lata Mani, ‘Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India’, in Sangari Kumkum and Vaid Sudesh eds, Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990), p. 95.

191 Numark, ‘Translating Dharma’.

192 Porter, ‘“Cultural Imperialism” and Protestant Missionary Enterprise’, p. 382.

* I am grateful to Andrew Esensten, Jonathan Esensten, Allen Greenberger, Sheree Meyer, and Albion Urdank for reading earlier drafts of this paper.

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