POONA , city 75 mi. s.e. of Bombay, India, formerly seasonal headquarters of the British government of Bombay. Poona's Jewish community, which was established in the middle of the 19th century, consisted of Arabic-speaking Jews who made Poona their summer residence and of *Bene Israel from Bombay. David *Sassoon built the synagogue Ohel David, and the Sassoon family endowed a hospital, infirmary, and leper asylum. The Bene Israel synagogue, known as Sukkath Shlomoh, was founded later. From 1870 Poona had a Hebrew printing press, publishing many works in Hebrew with Arabic translations for the Baghdadi Jews, and the Bene Israel published several liturgical works there. Once prosperous and numerous, the Jewish population has declined in recent years as a result of immigration to Israel.
A. Yaari, Ha-Defus ha-Ivri be-Arẓot ha-Mizraḥ 2 (1940), 83–89. add. bibliography: J.G. Roland, Jewsin British India: Identity in a Colonial Era (1989).
[Walter Joseph Fischel]