views updated Jun 08 2018


SURAT , port N. of Bombay. In the 17th century, Portuguese, Dutch, and English trading companies arrived in Surat, for centuries the main trading center between Europe and Asia. A few Jews were among them, often diamond merchants; Anglo-Portuguese Jews in London developed a flourishing trade with Surat though they were not allowed to settle there. A permanent Jewish settlement came into existence in the last decades of the 17th century. First to settle were Dutch-Portuguese merchants from Amsterdam, headed by Pedro Pereira who conducted widespread commercial transactions associated with both the Dutch and the English East India companies. Around 1740, they were followed by Anglo-Ashkenazi Jews, such as Abraham Elias and then, toward the end of the 18th century, by Arabic-speaking Jews from *Aleppo, *Baghdad, and *Basra. One of Surat's leading merchants was Moses *Tobias, who played a prominent role in the affairs of the city. When *Bombay became the British administrative center and *Calcutta rose to prominence, the Jewish settlement in Surat declined and most of its inhabitants moved to one of these two cities. In the 19th century a few individual Jews in government service settled in Surat. Some Jewish tombstones of the 17th and 18th centuries are still preserved.


Fischel, in: paajr, 33 (1965), 1–20.

[Walter Joseph Fischel]


views updated May 17 2018

surat designating cotton goods orig. made in Surat, a town and district in India. XVII.