Cochin Jews or Malabar Jews or Kochinim, are the oldest group of Jews in India, with possible roots that are claimed to date back to the time of King Solomon. The Cochin Jews settled in the Kingdom of Cochin in South India, now part of the state of Kerala; as early as the 12th century, mention is made of the Jews in southern India. The Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela, speaking of Kollam on the Malabar Coast, writes in his Itinerary: "...throughout the island, including all the towns thereof, live several thousand Israelites. The inhabitants are all black, the Jews also; the latter are benevolent. They know the law of Moses and the prophets, to a small extent the Talmud and Halacha." These people became known as the Malabari Jews. They built synagogues in Kerala beginning in the 13th centuries, they are known to have developed a dialect of Malayalam language. Following their expulsion from Iberia in 1492 by the Alhambra Decree, a few families of Sephardi Jews made their way to Cochin in the 16th century.
They became known as Paradesi Jews. The European Jews maintained some trade connections to Europe, their language skills were useful. Although the Sephardim spoke Ladino, in India they learned Judeo-Malayalam from the Malabar Jews; the two communities retained their cultural distinctions. In the late 19th century, a few Arabic-speaking Jews, who became known as Baghdadi immigrated to southern India, joined the Paradesi community. After India gained its independence in 1947 and Israel was established as a nation, most of the Malabar Jews made Aliyah and emigrated from Kerala to Israel in the mid-1950s. In contrast, most of the Paradesi Jews preferred to migrate to Australia and other Commonwealth countries, similar to the choices made by Anglo-Indians. Most of their synagogues are still existing in Kerala, whereas a few were sold or adapted for other uses. Among the 8 synagogues that had survived till the middle of 20th century, only the Paradesi synagogue still has a regular congregation and attracts tourists as a historic site.
Another synagogue at Ernakulam operates as a shop by one of few remaining Cochin Jews. A few synagogues are in ruins and one was demolished and a two-storeyed house was built in its place; the synagogue at Chendamangalam was reconstructed in 2006 as Kerala Jews Life Style Museum. The synagogue at Paravur has been reconstructed as Kerala Jews History Museum. P. M. Jussay wrote that it was believed that the earliest Jews in India were sailors from King Solomon's time, it has been claimed that following the destruction of the First Temple in the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE, some Jewish exiles came to India. Only after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE are records found that attest to numerous Jewish settlers arriving at Cranganore, an ancient port near Cochin. Cranganore, now transliterated as Kodungallur, but known under other names, is a city of legendary importance to this community. Fernandes writes, it is "a substitute Jerusalem in India". Katz and Goldberg note the "symbolic intertwining" of the two cities.
In 1768, a certain Tobias Boas of Amsterdam had posed eleven questions to Rabbi Yehezkel Rachbi of Cochin. The first of these questions addressed to the said Rabbi concerned the origins of the Jews of Cochin and the duration of their settlement in India. In Rabbi Yehezkel’s hand written response, he wrote: "...after the destruction of the Second Temple, in the year 3828 of anno mundi, i. e. 68 CE, about ten thousand men and women had come to the land of Malabar and were pleased to settle in four places. Most were in Cranganore, called Mago dera Patinas; this was codified on a set of copper plates granting the community special privileges. The date of these plates, known as "Sâsanam", is contentious; the plates are physically inscribed with the date 379 CE, but in 1925, tradition was setting it as 1069 CE. Indian rulers granted the Jewish leader Joseph Rabban the rank of prince over the Jews of Cochin, giving him the rulership and tax revenue of a pocket principality in Anjuvannam near Cranganore, rights to seventy-two "free houses".
The Hindu king gave permission in perpetuity for Jews to live build synagogues, own property "without conditions attached". A family connection to Rabban, "the king of Shingly", was long considered a sign of both purity and prestige within the community. Rabban's descendants led this distinct community until a chieftainship dispute broke out between two brothers, one of them named Joseph Azar, in the 16th century; the oldest known gravestone of a Cochin Jew is written in Hebrew and dates to 1269 CE. It is near the Chendamangalam Synagogue, built in 1614, now operated as a museum. In 1341, a disastrous flood silted up the port of Cranganore, trade shifted to a smaller port at Cochin. Many of the Jews moved and within four years, they had built their first synagogue at the new community; the Portuguese Empire established a trading beachhead in 1500, until 1663 remained the dominant power. They continued to discriminate against the Jews, although doing business with them. A synagogue was built at Parur in 1615, at a site that according to tradition had a synagogue built in 1165.
Jewish ethnic divisions
Jewish ethnic divisions refers to a number of distinctive communities within the world's ethnically Jewish population. Although considered one single self-identifying ethnicity, there are distinctive ethnic subdivisions among Jews, most of which are the result of geographic branching from an originating Israelite population, mixing with local populations, subsequent independent evolutions; as long ago as Biblical times and linguistic differences between Jewish communities within the area of Ancient Israel and Judea, are observed both within the Bible itself as well as from archeological remains. In more recent human history, an array of Jewish communities were established by Jewish settlers in various places around the Old World at great distances from one another resulting in effective and long-term isolation from each other. During the millennia of the Jewish diaspora the communities would develop under the influence of their local environments. Today, manifestation of these differences among the Jews can be observed in Jewish cultural expressions of each community, including Jewish linguistic diversity, culinary preferences, liturgical practices, religious interpretations, as well as degrees and sources of genetic admixture.
The full extent of the cultural, religious or other differences among the Israelites in antiquity is unknown. Following the defeat of the Kingdom of Israel in the 720s BCE and the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE, the Jewish people became dispersed throughout much of the Middle East and Africa in Egypt and North Africa to the west, as well as in Yemen to the south, in Mesopotamia to the east; the Jewish population in ancient Israel was reduced by the Jewish–Roman wars and by the hostile policies of the Christian emperors, against non-Christians, but the Jews always retained a presence in the Levant. Paul Johnson writes of this time: "Wherever towns survived, or urban communities sprang up, Jews would sooner or establish themselves; the near-destruction of Palestinian Jewry in the second century turned the survivors of Jewish rural communities into marginal town-dwellers. After the Arab conquest in the seventh century, the large Jewish agricultural communities in Babylonia were progressively wrecked by high taxation, so that there too the Jews drifted into towns and became craftsmen and dealers.
Everywhere these urban Jews, the vast majority literate and numerate, managed to settle, unless penal laws or physical violence made it impossible."Jewish communities continued to exist in Palestine in small numbers: during the early Byzantine 6th century there were 43 communities. The majority of the Jewish population during the High Middle Ages lived in Iberia and in the region of Mesopotamia and Persia, the former known as the Sefardim and the latter known as the Mizrahim. A substantial population existed in central Europe, the so-called Ashkenazim. Following the expulsion of Sephardim from Iberia during the 15th century, a mass migration into the Ottoman Empire swelled the size of many eastern communities including those in Palestine; the 16th century saw many Ashkenazi Kabbalists drawn to the mystical aura and teachings of the Jewish holy city. Johnson notes that in the Arab-Muslim territories, which included most of Spain, all of North Africa, the Near East south of Anatolia in the Middle Ages, the Jewish condition was easier as a rule, than it was in Europe.
Over the centuries following the Crusades and Inquisition, Jews from around the world began emigrating in increasing numbers. Upon arrival, these Jews adopted the customs of the Mizrahi and Sephardi communities into which they moved. With Baron von Rothschild's land purchases and subsequent efforts to turn Palestine into a verdant Jewish homeland, the subsequent rise of Zionism, a flood of Ashkenazi immigration brought the Jewish population of the region to several hundred thousand. Following the failure of the second revolt against the Romans and the exile, Jewish communities could be found in nearly every notable center throughout the Roman Empire, as well as scattered communities found in centers beyond the Empire's borders in northern Europe, in eastern Europe, in southwestern Asia, in Africa. Farther to the east along trade routes, Jewish communities could be found throughout Persia and in empires farther east including in India and China. In the Early Middle Ages of the 6th to 11th centuries, the Radhanites traded along the overland routes between Europe and Asia earlier established by the Romans, dominated trade between the Christian and the Islamic worlds, used a trade network that covered most areas of Jewish settlement.
In the middle Byzantine period, the khan of Khazaria in the northern Caucasus and his court converted to Judaism in order to maintain neutrality between Christian Byzantium and the Islamic world. This event forms the framework for Yehuda Halevi's work The Kuzari, but how much these traces of Judaism within this group survived the collapse of the Khazar empire is a matter of scholarly debate. In western Europe, following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476, after the re-orientation of trade caused by the Moorish conquest of Iberia in the early 8th century, communications between the Jewish communities in northern parts of the former western empire became sporadic. At the s
The Bene Israel known in India as the "Shanivar Teli" caste and as the "Native Jew Caste", are a historic community of Jews in India. It has been suggested that it is made up of descendants of one of the disputed Lost Tribes and ancestors who had settled there centuries ago. In the 19th century, after the people were taught about normative Judaism, they tended to migrate from villages in the Konkan area to the nearby cities Mumbai, but to Pune and Kolkata, India. Many gained positions with the British colonial authority of the period. In the early part of the twentieth century, many Bene Israel became active in the new film industry, as actresses and actors and directors. After India gained its independence in 1947, Israel was established in 1948, most Bene Israel emigrated to Israel and other Commonwealth countries and the United States; some historians have thought their ancestors may have belonged to one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, but the Bene Israel have never been recognized by Jewish authorities as such.
According to Bene Israel tradition, their ancestors migrated to India after centuries of travel through western Asia from Israel and assimilated to the people around them, while keeping some Jewish customs. The medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides mentioned in a letter that there was a Jewish community living in India: he may have been referring to the Bene Israel. At a point in history, uncertain, an Indian Jew from Cochin named David Rahabi discovered the Bene Israel in their villages and recognized their vestigial Jewish customs. Rahabi taught the people about normative Judaism, he trained some young men among them to be the religious preceptors of the community. Known as Kajis, these men held a position, they became recognized as settlers of disputes within the community. One Bene Israel tradition places Rahabi's arrival at around 1000 or 1400, although some historians believe he was not active until the 18th century, they suggest that the "David Rahabi" of Bene Israel folklore was a man named David Ezekiel Rahabi, who lived from 1694 to 1772, resided in Cochin the center of the wealthy Malabar Jewish community.
Others suggest that the reference is to David Baruch Rahabi, who arrived in Bombay from Cochin in 1825. It is estimated. Since that time, most of the population has emigrated to Israel. Under British colonial rule, many Bene Israel rose to prominence in India, they were less affected than other Indians by the racially discriminatory policies of the British colonists, considered somewhat outside the masses. They gained higher, better paying posts in the British Army when compared with their non-Jewish neighbours; some of these enlistees with their families joined the British in the British Protectorate of Aden. In the 19th century, the Bene Israel did however meet with hostility from the newly anglicized Baghdadi Jews who considered the Bene Israel to be "Indian", they questioned the Jewishness of the community. In response, the Bene Israel educator and historian, Haeem Samuel Kehimkar, spearheaded the defence of the jewishness of the Bene Israel in the late 1800s. In his writings, he tried to portray the Bene Israel as a foreign community in India.
He divided the community into two endogamous groups and black. He claimed the whites had pure blood and the blacks were the progeny of Indian women and therefore impure. In the early twentieth century, numerous Bene Israel became leaders in the new film industry in India. In addition, men worked as producers and actors: Ezra Mir became the first chief of India's Film Division, Solomon Moses was head of the Bombay Film Lab Pvt Ltd from the 1940s to 1990s. Ennoch Isaac Satamkar was a film actor and assistant director to Mehboob Khan, a prominent director of Hindi films. Given their success under the British colonial government, many Bene Israel prepared to leave India at independence in 1947, they believed that nationalism and the emphasis on indigenous religions would mean fewer opportunities for them. Most emigrated to Israel, newly established in 1948 as a Jewish homeland. Between 1948 and 1952, some 2,300 Bene Israel immigrated to Israel. In India, the Bene Israel and other jews lived in urban areas, however in Israel they were settled into agriculture based moshavim or development towns.
Several rabbis refused to marry Bene Israel to other Jews, on grounds that they were not legitimate Jews under Orthodox law. As a result of sit-down protests and hunger strikes by Orthodox Jews, the Jewish Agency returned 337 individuals of Bene Israel in several groups to India between 1952 and 1954. Most returned to Israel after several years. In 1962, the Indian press reported that European-Jewish authorities in Israel had treated the Bene Israel with racism, they objected to the Chief Rabbi of Israel ruling that, before registering a marriage between Indian Jews and Jews not belonging to that community, the registering rabbi should investigate the lineage of the Indian applicant for possible non-Jewish descent. In case of doubt, they should require the applicant to perform formal immersion; the alleged discrimination may have been based on the belief by some religious authorities that the Bene Israel were not Jewish because of having had intermarriage in the maternal line with Indian natives during their long separation from major communities of Jews Others thought, a convenient cover for racially based bias against Jews
The English term Jew originates in the Biblical Hebrew word Yehudi, meaning "from the Kingdom of Judah", or "Jew". It passed into Greek as Ioudaios and Latin as Iudaeus, which evolved into the Old French giu after the letter "d" was dropped. A variety of related forms are found in early English from about the year 1000, including Iudea, Giu, Iuu and Iew, which developed into the modern word. According to the Book of Genesis, Judah was the name of the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob. During the Exodus, the name was given to the Tribe of Judah, descended from the patriarch Judah. After the conquest and settlement of the land of Canaan, Judah referred to the territory allocated to the tribe. After the splitting of the united Kingdom of Israel, the name was used for the southern kingdom of Judah; the kingdom now encompassed the tribes of Judah and Simeon, along with some of the cities of the Levites. With the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel, the kingdom of Judah became the sole Jewish state and the term y'hudi was applied to all Israelites.
The term Yehudi occurs 74 times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible. The plural, Yehudim first appears in 2 Kings 16:6 where it refers to a defeat for the Yehudi army or nation, in 2 Chronicles 32:18, where it refers to the language of the Yehudim. Jeremiah 34:9 has the earliest singular usage of the word Yehudi. In Esther 2:5-6, the name "Yehudi" has a generic aspect, in this case referring to a man from the tribe of Benjamin: "There was a man a Yehudi in Shushan the capital, whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair the son of Shimei the son of Kish, a Benjamite. More the Talmud uses the term Bnei Yisrael, i.e. "Children of Israel", to refer to Jews. According to the Talmud there is no distinction between "religious Jews" and "secular Jews." In modern Hebrew, the same word is still used to mean both Jews and Judeans. In Arabic the terms are yahūdī, al-yahūd, بَنُو اِسرَائِيل banū isrāʼīl; the Aramaic term is Y'hūdāi. The Septuagint and other Greek documents translated יְהוּדִי, Yehudi and the Aramaic Y'hūdāi using the Koine Greek term Ioudaios, which had lost the'h' sound.
The Latin term, following the Greek version, is Iudaeus, from these sources the term passed to other European languages. The Old French giu, earlier juieu, had elided the letter "d" from the Latin Iudaeus; the Middle English word Jew derives from Old English where the word is attested as early as 1000 in various forms, such as Iudeas, Giu, Iuw, Iew. The Old English name is derived from Old French; the modern French term is "juif". Most European languages have retained the letter "d" in the word for Jew. Etymological equivalents are in use in other languages, e.g. "Jude" in German, "judeu" in Portuguese, "jøde" in Danish and Norwegian, "judío" in Spanish, "jood" in Dutch, etc. In some languages, derivations of the word "Hebrew" are in use to describe a Jew, e.g. Ebreo in Italian, Ebri/Ebrani in Persian and Еврей, Yevrey in Russian; the German word "Jude" is pronounced, the corresponding adjective "jüdisch", is cognate with the Yiddish word for "Jew", "Yid". In modern English, the term "Israelite" was used to refer to contemporary Jews as well as to Jews of antiquity until the mid-20th-century.
Since the foundation of the State of Israel, it has become less common to use "Israelite" of Jews in general. Instead, citizens of the state of Israel, whether Jewish or not, are called "Israeli", while "Jew" is used as an ethno-religious designation; the word Jew has been used enough in a disparaging manner by antisemites that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was avoided altogether, the term Hebrew was substituted instead. Today some people are wary of its use, prefer to use "Jewish". Indeed, when used as an adjective or verb, the term Jew is purely pejorative. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition: It is recognized that the attributive use of the noun Jew, in phrases such as Jew lawyer or Jew ethics, is both vulgar and offensive. In such contexts Jewish is the only acceptable possibility; some people, have become so wary of this construction that they have extended the stigma to any use of Jew as a noun, a practice that carries risks of its own.
In a sentence such as There are now several Jews on the council, unobjectionable, the substitution of a circumlocution like Jewish people or persons of Jewish background may in itself cause offense for seeming to imply that Jew has a negative connotation when used as a noun. See "Person of Jewish ethnicity" about a similar issue in the S
Bar and Bat Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual for boys. Bat Mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual for girls; the plural is B'nai Mitzvah for boys, B'not Mitzvah for girls. According to Jewish law, when Jewish boys become 13 years old, they become accountable for their actions and become a bar mitzvah. A girl becomes a bat mitzvah at the age of 12 according to Orthodox and Conservative Jews, at the age of 13 according to Reform Jews. Prior to reaching bar mitzvah age, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's actions. After this age, the boys and girls bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law and ethics, are able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. Traditionally, the father of the bar mitzvah gives thanks to God that he is no longer punished for the child's sins. In addition to being considered accountable for their actions from a religious perspective, a thirteen-year-old male may be counted towards a prayer quorum and may lead prayer and other religious services in the family and the community.
Bar mitzvah is mentioned in the Talmud. In some classic sources the age of 13 appears for instance as the age from which males must fast on the Day of Atonement, while females fast from the age of 12; the age of b'nai mitzvah coincides with physical puberty. The bar or bat mitzvah ceremony is held on the first Shabbat after a boy's thirteenth and a girl's twelfth birthday. Bar is a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic word meaning "son", while bat means "daughter" in Hebrew, mitzvah means "commandment" or "law", thus bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah translate to "son of commandment" and "daughter of commandment". However, in rabbinical usage, the word bar means "under the category of" or "subject to". Bar mitzvah therefore translates to "an, subject to the law". Although the term is used to refer to the ritual itself, in fact the phrase refers to the person; the modern method of celebrating becoming a bar mitzvah did not exist in the time of the Hebrew Bible, Mishnah or Talmud. Early rabbinic sources specify 13 as the age.
However, the celebration of this occasion is not mentioned until the Middle Ages. The Bible does not explicitly specify the age thirteen. Passages in the books of Exodus and Numbers note the age of majority for army service as twenty. Machzor Vitri notes that Genesis 34:25 refers to Levi as a "man", when a calculation from other verses suggests that Levi was aged thirteen at the time; the age of thirteen is mentioned in the Mishnah as the time one is obligated to observe the Torah's commandments: "At five years old one should study the Scriptures, at ten years for the Mishnah, at 13 for the commandments..."Elsewhere, the Mishna lists the ages at which a vow is considered automatically valid. Other sources list thirteen as the age of majority with respect to following the commandments of the Torah, including: "Why is the evil inclination personified as the great king? Because it is thirteen years older than the good inclination." That is to say, one's good inclination begins to act upon reaching the age of majority.
According to Pirke Rabbi Eli'ezer 26, Abraham rejected the idolatry of his father and became a worshiper of God when he was thirteen years old. The term "bar mitzvah" appears first in the Talmud, meaning "one, subject to the law", though it does not refer to age; the term "bar mitzvah", in reference to age, cannot be traced earlier than the 14th century, the older rabbinical term being "gadol" or "bar'onshin". Many sources indicate; some late midrashic sources, some medieval sources, refer to a synagogue ceremony performed upon the boy's reaching age thirteen: Simon Tzemach Duran quotes a Midrash interpreting the Hebrew word zo in Isaiah 43:21 as referring by its numerical value to those that have reached the age of 13. This seems to imply that, at the time of the composition of the Midrash the bar mitzvah publicly pronounced a benediction on the occasion of his entrance upon maturity; the Midrash Hashkem: "The heathen when he begets a son consecrates him to idolatrous practises. Masseket Soferim makes matters more explicit: "In Jerusalem they are accustomed to initiate their children to fast on the Day of Atonement, a year or two before their maturity.
Whosoever is of superiority in the town is expected to pray for him as he bows down to him to receive his blessing." Genesis Rabbah, commenting upon Genesis 25:27, says: "Up to thirteen years Esau and Jacob went together to the primary school and back home.
History of the Jews in Georgia
Georgian Jews are one of the oldest communities in Georgia, tracing their migration into the country during the Babylonian captivity in 6th century BC. Prior to Georgia's annexation by Russia, the 2,600-year history of the Georgian Jews was marked by an total absence of antisemitism and a visible assimilation in the Georgian language and culture; the Georgian Jews were culturally distinct from neighboring Mountain Jews. They were traditionally a separate group to the Ashkenazi Jews in Georgia, who arrived following the Russian annexation of Georgia; as a result of a major emigration wave in the 1990s, the vast majority of Georgian Jews now live in Israel, with the world's largest community living in the city of Ashdod. The Georgian Jews have traditionally lived separately, not only from the surrounding Georgian people, but from the Ashkenazi Jews in Tbilisi, who had different practices and language; the community, which numbered about 80,000 as as the 1970s, has emigrated to Israel, the United States, the Russian Federation and Belgium.
As of 2004, only about 13,000 Georgian Jews remained in Georgia. According to the 2002 First General National Census of Georgia, there are 3,541 Jewish believers in the country. For example, the Lezgishvili branch of Georgian Jews have families in Israel, Baku, Düsseldorf, Cleveland, Ohio. Several hundred Georgian Jewish families live in the New York tri-state area in New York City and Long Island. Georgian-speaking Jewry is one of the oldest surviving Jewish communities in the world; the Georgian Jews have an 2,600-year history in the region. The origin of Georgian Jews known as Gurjim or kartveli ebraelebi, is debated; the most popular view is that the first Jews made their way to southern Georgia after Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and exile in Babylon. This claim is supported by the medieval Georgian historical account by Leonti Mroveli, who writes: Then King Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem; the Jews who fled thence come to Kartli and requested from the mamasakhlisi of Mtskheta territory in return for tribute.
He gave and settled them on the Aragvi, at spring, called Zanavi, renamed as Zanavi, the quarter of Jews.". Another version offered by Mroveli, was the settlement of the Jews in Georgia during the Roman period of Emperor Vespasian, he wrote that Jews lived in Georgia long before 1st century AD. According to Mroveli: During their reign, the emperor of the Romans, captured Jerusalem. From there refugee Jews come to Mtskheta and settled with the old Jews." The ancient Georgian historic chronicle, The Conversion of Kartli, is the oldest and only Georgian source concerning the history of the Jewish community in Georgia. The chronicle describes a version similar to that offered centuries by Leonti Mroveli, but the period of Jewish migration into Georgia is ascribed to Alexander the Great:...the warlike seed, the Honni, exiled by the Chaldeans, requested the land for tribute from the Lord of the Bun T'urks. And they settled in Zanavi, and they possessed it... Georgian sources refer to the arrival of the first Jews in Western Georgia from the Byzantine Empire during the 6th century AD.
3,000 of the Jews fled to Eastern Georgia, which by that time was controlled by the Persians, to escape severe persecution by the Byzantines. The existence of the Jews in these regions during this period is supported by the archaeological evidence, which shows that Jews lived in Mtskheta, the ancient capital of the Eastern Georgian state of Iberia-Kartli. According to the Georgian hagiography, Jewish communities existed in Georgia in the 1st century. A Georgian Jew called Elias was said to be in Jerusalem during the Crucifixion and brought Jesus' robe back with him to Georgia, he had acquired it from a Roman soldier at Golgotha. The Jews spoke Georgian, Jewish traders developed a dialect called Kivruli, or Judaeo-Georgian, which included a number of Hebrew words. In the second half of the 7th century, the Muslim Empire conquered extensive Georgian territory, which became an Arab caliph province. Arab emirs ruled in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and surrounding territory for nearly 500 years, until 1122.
Genetic studies carried out on Georgian Jews as part of a wider survey showed close genetic links with other Jews, in particular with Iraqi and Persian Jews. This seemed to prove the historical accounts of Jewish migration from Persia into Georgia. There is not much documentation about Georgian Jews under the Arab domination. In the late 9th century, Abu-Imran Musa al-Za'farani founded a Jewish Karai sect called the Tiflis Sect, which lasted for more than 300 years; the sect deviated from Rabbinic halakhah in its kashrut customs. This sect did not represent the great majority of Georgian Jews, who adhered to traditional Rabbinic Judaism while maintaining strong religious ties with Baghdad and other Jews of Iraq; the nature of Georgian Jew's observance to rabbinic law was noted by Benjamin of Tudela and Abraham ben David. The Mongols swept through Georgia in 1236, prompting many of the Jews of Eastern and Southern Georgia to move to the western region, which remained independent. There they formed small communities along the Black Sea, their poverty forced them into serfdom.
For 500 years, beginning in the end of the 14th century, the Jews of Georgia belonged to the kamani, or serf class, under the Georgian elite. Their situation worsened in the 15th and 16th centuries due
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. The basic form of the rabbi developed in the Pharisaic and Talmudic era, when learned teachers assembled to codify Judaism's written and oral laws; the first sage for whom the Mishnah uses the title of rabbi was Yohanan ben Zakkai, active in the early-to-mid first century AD. In more recent centuries, the duties of a rabbi became influenced by the duties of the Protestant Christian minister, hence the title "pulpit rabbis", in 19th-century Germany and the United States rabbinic activities including sermons, pastoral counseling, representing the community to the outside, all increased in importance. Within the various Jewish denominations there are different requirements for rabbinic ordination, differences in opinion regarding, to be recognized as a rabbi. For example, Orthodox Judaism does not ordain women as rabbis. Non-Orthodox movements have chosen to do so for what they view as halakhic reasons as well as ethical reasons; the Hebrew word "master" רב rav, which means "great one", is the original Hebrew form of the title.
The form of the title in English and many other languages derives from the possessive form in Hebrew of rav: רַבִּי rabbi, meaning "My Master", the way a student would address a master of Torah. The word Rav in turn derives from the Semitic root ר-ב-ב, which in biblical Aramaic means "great" in many senses, including "revered", but appears as a prefix in construct forms. Although the usage rabbim "many" "the majority, the multitude" occurs for the assembly of the community in the Dead Sea scrolls there is no evidence to support an association with the title "Rabbi." The root is cognate to Arabic ربّ rabb, meaning "lord". As a sign of great respect, some great rabbis are called "The Rav". Rabbi is not an occupation found in the Hebrew Bible, ancient generations did not employ related titles such as Rabban, Ribbi, or Rab to describe either the Babylonian sages or the sages in Israel; the titles "Rabban" and "Rabbi" are first mentioned in the Mishnah. The term was first used for Rabban Gamaliel the elder, Rabban Simeon his son, Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, all of whom were patriarchs or presidents of the Sanhedrin in the first century.
The title "Rabbi" occurs in the books of Matthew and John in the New Testament, where it is used in reference to "Scribes and Pharisees" as well as to Jesus. Sephardic and Yemenite Jews pronounce this word רִבִּי ribbī. Other variants are rəvī and, in Yiddish, rebbə; the word could be compared to the Syriac word ܪܒܝ rabi. In ancient Hebrew, rabbi was a proper term of address while speaking to a superior, in the second person, similar to a vocative case. While speaking about a superior, in the third person one could say rabbo; the term evolved into a formal title for members of the Patriarchate. Thus, the title gained an irregular plural form: רַבָּנִים rabbanim, not רַבָּי rabbay; the governments of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were based on a system that included the Jewish kings, the Jewish prophets, the legal authority of the high court of Jerusalem, the Great Sanhedrin, the ritual authority of the priesthood. Members of the Sanhedrin had to receive their ordination in an uninterrupted line of transmission from Moses, yet rather than being referred to as rabbis they were called priests or scribes, like Ezra, called in the Bible "Ezra, the priest, the scribe, a scribe of the words of God's commandments and of His statutes unto Israel."
"Rabbi" as a religious title does not appear in the Hebrew Bible. All of the above personalities would have been expected to be steeped in the wisdom of the Torah and the commandments, which would have made them "rabbis" in the modern sense of the word; this is illustrated by a two-thousand-year-old teaching in the Mishnah, Ethics of the Fathers, which observed about King David, "One who learns from their companion a single chapter, a single halakha, a single verse, a single Torah statement, or a single letter, must treat them with honor. For so we find with David King of Israel, who learned nothing from Ahitophel except two things, yet called him his teacher, his guide, his intimate, as it is said:'You are a man of my measure, my guide, my intimate'. One can derive from this the following: If David King of Israel who learned nothing from Ahitophel except for two things, called him his teacher, his guide, his intimate, one who learns from their companion a single chapter, a single halakha, a single verse, a single statement, or a single letter, how much more must they treat them with honor.
And honor is due only for Torah, as it is said:'The wise shall inherit honor','and the perfect shall inherit good'. And only Torah is good, as it is said:'I have given you a good teaching, do not forsake My Torah'." With the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish monarchy, the decline of the dual institutions of prophets and the priesthood, the focus of scholarly and spiritual leadership within the Jewish people shifted to the sages of the Men of the Great Assembly. This assembly was composed of the earliest group of "rabbis" in the mor