As American Jewish institutions struggle to find ways to ensure Jewish “continuity,” it would be wise to look outside of the usual contexts to learn how other Jewish communities have successfully done so.

In India we find two models: the learned Jewish community at Kochi (Cochin), and the pious group known as the Bene Israel. These two tiny communities each lived in India for centuries if not millennia, interacting harmoniously with their Hindu, Muslim and Christian neighbors, contributing to their host societies as well as to Jewish literature and customs, all the while maintaining their identities as Jews.

This talk will analyze the mechanisms each employed so successfully for so long.

About the Speaker: Nathan Katz, the Bhagwan Mahavir professor of religious studies, is the founder-director of the Program in the Study of Spirituality at Florida International University. Arguably the world’s leading authority on Jewish communities in India, his work has focused on the cultural interactions between Judaic and Indian civilizations. He is co-founder and co-editor of The Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies. One of eight invited Jewish delegates at the historical 1990 Tibetan-Jewish dialogue hosted by the Dalai Lama, he recently keynoted the third Hindu-Jewish summit in New York. Of his fifteen books, his latest is a memoir, Spiritual Journey Home – Eastern Mysticism to the Western Wall, published by Ktav in 2009. His 2000 book, Who Are the Jews of India? was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Studies. Professor Katz is a co-organizer of the Miami International Torah and Science Conferences.

Image (Katz)

Nathan Katz

(Florida International University)

David Cohen (UCLA)

Sponsored by the
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies