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The history of the Jews in India dates back to antiquity. Judaism was one of the first foreign religions to arrive in the Indian subcontinent in recorded history. Desi Jews are a small religious minority who have lived in the region since ancient times. The 2,000-year history of Indian Jews was marked by a total absence of antisemitism from the Hindu majority and a visible assimilation in the local languages and cultures.
The better-established ancient Jewish communities have assimilated many of the local traditions through cultural diffusion. While some Indian Jews have stated that their ancestors arrived during the time of the Biblical Kingdom of Judah, others claim descent from the Ten Lost Tribes of the pre-Judaic Israelites who arrived in India earlier. Still some other Indian Jews contend that they descend from the Israelite Tribe of Manasseh, and they are referred to as the Bnei Menashe.
The Jewish population in British India peaked at around 20,000 in the mid-1940s, according to some estimates, with others putting the number as high as 50,000, but the community declined rapidly due to emigration to the newly formed Israel after the Partition of Palestine at the end of the British Mandate in 1948. The Indian Jewish community is now estimated to number no more than 5,000 people.
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