Thursday, June 27, 2013

Four Jewish Beauties in India's Beauty Contests

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  

Four beautiful Jewish women have represented India in beauty contests.  This is quite a feat considering there are only 5,000 Jews out of 1.3 billion Indians. Of these, 3,000 lived in Bombay and the rest in 9 other communities.   Probably the Muslim population is low because most moved to Pakistan which was carved out of British India on August 14, 1947.  Many of the Jews have gone into the film industry in India. DNA testing shows that many of the men are descended from Aaron, Moses's brother, as they carry the Ydna haplogroup J1. Since the Y does not show up in a female's test, this has to be their father's haplgroup.  There is a female mtdna haplgroup and J1 is in that, but with different meaning.  "7% of Jewish women are found to be J1, (Jasmine) which originated about 40,000-45,000 years ago in central Asia and is associated with the spread of farming and herding in Europe during the Neolithic Period beginning 10,000 years ago. It’s common in the Middle East and among Jews."  

80.5% of the people of India practice Hinduism
13.4% are Muslims
 2.3% are Christians
1.9% are Sikhs
0.8% are Buddhists
0.4% are Jainists
0.0? are Jews
In 1947, Esther Victoria Abraham was chosen Miss India.  She was Jewish from Baghdadi and was a film actress known as Pramila.  "In the late 18th century, Arabic-speaking Jews, who became known as Baghdadi,  immigrated to southern India, constituting what became known as a third community.

On March 12, 1967, her daughter, Naqi Jahan,  was chosen as Miss India.  Though considered Jewish because of having a Jewish mother, her father was a Muslim actor, Kumar ne Syed Hasan Ali. and she was raised as a Muslim.   Their son was raised as a Muslim also and is also an actor in Bollywood.
Fleur Ezekiel of Bene Israel was chosen as Miss World in 1959. She was a model.   Bene Israel (sons of Israel) claim to be one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.  It is a historic Jewish community in India.  Assyria had attacked the Jews of Israel and had taken away many of 10 of the  12 tribes in 721 BCE which is when they might have made it to India.  "It is estimated that there were 6,000 Bene Israel in the 1830s; 10,000 at the turn of the 20th century; and in 1948—their peak in India—they numbered 20,000.  Many have now moved to Israel.  I met one beautiful lady there dressed in a sari, and she was indeed beautiful.  They were found in the neighborhood of Bombay.  Ethnically, they are Indian, and their origin is uncertain until DNA testing can uncover their origin.  By the 18th century their Jewish observance was at a low ebb, but they have since returned to a whole-hearted observance of Judaism.  Some of them, such as the Sassoon family, have attained great prominence.  There were 3,00 Bene Israel in 1948.  European Jews including German refugees settled in some numbers during the late period of British rule.  During the Middle Ages there were Jewish communities in Calicut and other places.  In the 16th century, hidden Jews (ex-Marranos, an unacceptable name) and their descendants came to live there through London or Amsterdam.  Jews even migrated to Madras where there was an organized congregation.
Salome Aaron, Jewish,  was chosen Miss India in 1972.  She has a Hindu husband.

Jews were in Cochin, India and said they originated from the time of King Solomon in 950 BCE.   Their emigration is recorded from the time of 70CE with the fall of Jerusalem.  "They settled in the state of Kerala. Becoming known as the Malabari Jews, they built synagogues in Kerala beginning in the 12th and 13th centuries and developed Judeo-Malayalam, a dialect of Malayalam language.

Following the expulsion from Iberia in 1492, a few families of Sephardic Jews eventually made their way to Cochin in the 16th century. They became known as Paradesi Jews (or White Jews). The European Jews maintained some trade connections to Europe, and their language skills were useful. Although the Sephardim spoke Ladino, in India they learned Judeo-Malayalam from the Malabar Jews.[4] The two communities retained their ethnic distinctions. After India gained its independence in 1947 and Israel was established as a nation, most Cochin Jews emigrated from Kerala to Israel in the mid-1950s. Most of their synagogues have been sold and adapted for other uses. The Paradesi Synagogue in still has a congregation and also attracts tourists as an historic site."

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia  India


  1. There is nothing to be proud of.
    When 95+% of India population was denied opportunities by some elite families, it was easy for Jews.

    Now things are much better, ask any Jew to compete with Classic Indian beauties now. They can't reach even top 1000.

    1. Hey Vetri, why so angry ? It is indeed a matter of pride. A small community producing 1st Miss India is sure noteworthy. It was 1947 - surely the elites from other communities were in a much more privileged position than Jews. Why didn't they win ? Because they were not as progressive as Jews. So, I appreciate this Jew win as a progressive move forward for our society's women. By the way, 95% of population even now can't match contributions of the near extinct Parsees.

      AND, I think no one comes close to Naqi Jahan(except Nafisa Ali) as far beauty is concerned.

      Watch Naqi Jahan on youtube in the song - Rut jawaan jawaan raat meherbaan.

      Her eyes, her eyes.

    2. You have a lot of steam held up inside of you, you should try and let that go sometimes

  2. Sorry about that. I had no idea there would be any denying of entering the contest by an upper class. I think the population of Jews in India has become smaller since then.

    1. Yes Nadene, a few jews have remained in India - most of them in Mumbai.
      Between them my sister Diana and brother Reuben.
      Even on Jewish Holidays, the synagogues are not full anymore.

  3. Saraben, yes, so many have made aliyah to Israel already. I saw some beautiful women in Saris there. It's exciting to see that our 12 tribes are coming together again after being dispersed for so long. Our religion is not one due to proselytizing, so we're meeting up with our cousins once again. I know that Chabad is in Mumbai, or was. Are they still there?