Washington: A new study reveals the Bene Israel community in the western part of India carries genetic proof of the Jewish roots. They anyway, have always considered themselves Jewish.
“Almost nothing is known about the Bene Israel community before the 18th century, when Cochin Jews and later Christian missionaries first came into contact with it,” says researcher Yedael Waldman.
“Beyond vague oral history and speculations, there has been no independent support for Bene Israel claims of Jewish ancestry, claims that have remained shrouded in legend,” he added.
“Human genetics now has the potential to not only improve human health but also help us understand human history,” says another reasearcher Prof. Eran Halperin.
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 2,000 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.
The research team based their study on data from the Jewish HapMap project, an international effort led by Prof. Harry Ostrer of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to determine the genetic history of worldwide Jewish diasporas.
They used sophisticated genetic tools to conduct comprehensive genome-wide analyses on the genetic markers of 18 Bene Israel individuals.
The study has been published in PLOS ONE. (ANI)