Jewish roots of India’s Bene Israel community confirmed: Study

May 12, 2016 18:18 IST

GeneticsA Genetic study confirmed that the Bene Israel community living in the western part of India has roots of Jewish.

The study from Tel Aviv University, Cornell University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine was published on 10 May 2016 in American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

Through the study of DNA, genetic evidences wereprovided by scientists about the Jewish roots in the Bene Israel community and the research team determined the genetic history of worldwide Jewish diaspora.

They used sophisticated genetic tools to conduct comprehensive genome-wide analyses on the genetic markers of 18 Bene Israel individuals.

Main highlights of the Study

• They found that while Bene Israel individuals genetically resemble local Indian populations but they constitute a clearly separated and unique population in India

• The study confirmed that Bene Israel being an admixed population, with both Jewish and Indian ancestry.

• The genetic contribution of each of these ancestral populations was substantial, some 19-33 generations (approximately 650-1050 years) ago.

• The researchers believed that the first encounter involved Middle-Eastern Jews and was followed by a high rate of tribal intermarriage.

• This study provides a new example of how genetic analysis can be a valuable and powerful tool to advance our knowledge of human history.

Background

According to their oral history, the Bene Israel people descended from 14 Jewish survivors of a shipwreck on India's Konkan shore.

The exact timing of this event and the origin and identity of the Jewish visitors are unknown. Some date the event to around 2000 years ago. Others estimate that it took place in 175 BCE.

Still others believe their Jewish ancestors arrived as early as the 8th century BCE.

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