indian relocation

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Synagogues of India (Calcutta/Kolkata, Mumbai, and Cochin). Photographs by Jono David.

Jews were once a prominent component of India’s population. The three main branches of Indian Jewry are the Maharashtrian (Bene Israel) Jews, Cochin Jews, and Baghdadi Jews. Bene Israel, who constitute the majority of Indian Jews, claim to be descendants of seven Jewish families from Judea who were shipwrecked near the village of Navgaon in western India around 175 B.C. They settled primarily in Mumbai, Calcutta, Old Delhi, and Ahmedabad. 

Cochin Jews, according to local tradition, are descendants of Jewish merchants who arrived on the Malabar coast of India with the ships of King Solomon’s fleet. After the Spanish Edict of Expulsion, Jewish refugees migrated to Cochin from Aleppo, Constantinople, and Palestine. Within the same timeframe, Jews escaping forced conversions in Persia and persecution in Baghdad also fled to Cochin. 

The waves of Jewish emigration from Baghdad started gaining momentum in the 19th century. Via intricate mercantile routes, communities of Baghdadi Jewish traders reached Calcutta, a port city in eastern India and the former nerve center of the British Empire. Although there was no shortage of rifts and conflicts between Baghdadi Jews and the local Bene Israel of Calcutta, the two groups merged their cultures together and gave rise to new sociocultural forms.

India gained its independence of Britain in 1947, and nationalism and emphasis on the Partition of Hindu and Muslim identities intensified. The following year, the state of Israel was established, and Indian Jews relocated to Katamon in Jerusalem, Beersheba, Ramla, Dimona, and Yeruham in dramatic numbers. In the 1940s, over 30,000 Jews were registered in India; in 1971, there were roughtly 5,825. 70,000 Indian Jews live in Israel today (the great majority of them Bene Israel).

The Legal Rights Offered by A Marriage Certificate

(or: why I get so cranky about people telling me it doesn’t matter)

An abridged list of the rights conferred by a marriage certificate (Not even hard to find! Just Wikipedia!):

·         Right to benefits while married:

·         Employment assistance and transitional services for spouses of members being separated from military service; continued commissary privileges

·         Per diem payment to spouse for federal civil service employees when relocating

·         Indian Health Service care for spouses of Native Americans (in some circumstances)

·         Sponsor husband/wife for immigration benefits

·         Larger benefits under some programs if married, including:

·         Veteran’s disability

·         Supplemental Security Income

·         Disability payments for federal employees

·         Medicaid

·         Property tax exemption for homes of totally disabled veterans

·         Income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates

·         Wages of an employee working for one’s spouse are exempt from federal unemployment tax[3]

·         Joint and family-related rights:

·         Joint filing of bankruptcy permitted

·         Joint parenting rights, such as access to children’s school records

·         Family visitation rights for the spouse and non-biological children, such as to visit a spouse in a hospital or prison

·         Next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions or filing wrongful death claims

·         Custodial rights to children, shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce

·         Domestic violence intervention

·         Access to “family only” services, such as reduced rate memberships to clubs & organizations or residency in certain neighborhoods

·         Preferential hiring for spouses of veterans in government jobs

·         Tax-free transfer of property between spouses (including on death) and exemption from “due-on-sale” clauses.

·         Special consideration to spouses of citizens and resident aliens

·         Threats against spouses of various federal employees is a federal crime

·         Right to continue living on land purchased from spouse by National Park Service when easement granted to spouse

·         Court notice of probate proceedings

·         Domestic violence protection orders

·         Existing homestead lease continuation of rights

·         Regulation of condominium sales to owner-occupants exemption

·         Funeral and bereavement leave

·         Joint adoption and foster care

·         Joint tax filing

·         Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual benefits society

·         Legal status with stepchildren

·         Making spousal medical decisions

·         Spousal non-resident tuition deferential waiver

·         Permission to make funeral arrangements for a deceased spouse, including burial or cremation

·         Right of survivorship of custodial trust

·         Right to change surname upon marriage

·         Right to enter into prenuptial agreement

·         Right to inheritance of property

·         Spousal privilege in court cases (the marital confidences privilege and the spousal testimonial privilege)

·         For those divorced or widowed, the right to many of ex- or late spouse’s benefits, including:

·         Social Security pension

·         Veteran’s pensions, indemnity compensation for service-connected deaths, medical care, and nursing home care, right to burial in veterans’ cemeteries, educational assistance, and housing

·         survivor benefits for federal employees

·         Survivor benefits for spouses of longshoremen, harbor workers, railroad workers

·         Additional benefits to spouses of coal miners who die of black lung disease

·         $100,000 to spouse of any public safety officer killed in the line of duty

·         Continuation of employer-sponsored health benefits

·         Renewal and termination rights to spouse’s copyrights on death of spouse

·         Continued water rights of spouse in some circumstances

·         Payment of wages and workers compensation benefits after worker death

·         Making, revoking, and objecting to post-mortem anatomical gifts

There’s others not mentioned by the Wikipedia list that are a little more esoteric, but off the top of my head:

·         Suing a third person for the wrongful death of your spouse

·         Also suing a third person for loss of intimacy

·         The court cannot force you to testify or disclose against your spouse

·         Crime victim recovery benefits

I’m not saying there’s not other important things out there, and TRUST, I understand having a reactionary attitude to shit you have to constantly hear about when you don’t give a fuck, but from a solely legal perspective, this is so important to leveling the playing field that I feel it’s shortsighted and uncharitable to deny its importance.