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Exotic Jewish Communities Around the World

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As an exiled people for over 2500 years, Jews have landed in far off and sometimes exotic places where they have learned to survive and thrive. Explore how these communities became lost to mainstream Jewish life and learn how they adapted to foreign culture. Communities included are Moroccan and Egyptian Jews, Chinese Jews, Jews of Venice, Greece and India.

Morocco- an exciting, vibrant community that played a major role in the history of that great nation; yet one that suffered tremendously at the creation of the Jewish state, only to rebound into the 21st century.

Egypt- another ancient Jewish community, whose roots can be traced to the 4th Century BCE, with a substantial community on Elephantine Island outside of Aswan. This community would then thrive in Cairo and Alexandria until the 20th Century.

China- a well respected community, founded in the 12th Century, existed in the city of Kai Feng until the 1920's. Today the Shanghai Community remains vibrant and active.

Venice, Italy- the original Jewish community that had the term “ghetto” applied to it early in the 16th Century.

India- on the subcontinent can be found a group called the Bene Israel have been living in Bombay and Cochin, according to tradition, for nearly 2000 years until a mass migration in the 1950's depleted their numbers.

Greece- one of the first major Jewish communities to be established outside of the biblical world was that of Greece, dating back over 2400 years.

Cuba- it is said that Christopher Columbus was part-Jewish, and that Jewish sailors were part of his crew when he landed on the island in 1492. Ever since, there has been a Jewish community on the island. Even today, Jewish life, although small, is still vibrant.


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