Bene Israel - Economy



The traditional occupation of the Bene Israel in the Konkan villages was that of oil pressing. They were known as Shanwar Telis or "Saturday oilmen" because, as Jews, they refrained from pressing oil on Saturdays. In the towns, Bene Israel were primarily employed as clerks. Only in the Konkan villages did the Bene Israel sell the oil they pressed to other members of the village or neighboring villages. Otherwise they were and are employed in the services. In recent decades only a minority of the Bene Israel were still living in the Konkan villages, engaged in cultivation and agriculture and industries inDirectly associated with their traditional occupation of oil pressing. The majority of those still in India are employed either as white-collar workers or as mechanics and skilled laborers in factories and workshops. A significant minority were employed in India in the professional category as doctors, teachers, and lawyers. As a result of their previous ties with the British, many Bene Israel members are still to be found in the armed forces and the transportation and communication industries. Almost 50 percent of the women work outside the home in Israel.


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