Divekar, Samuel Ezekiel

views updated


DIVEKAR, SAMUEL EZEKIEL (Samaji Hassaji Divekar ; d. 1797), soldier and benefactor of the Bene *Israel community in Bombay, India. Divekar enlisted with his brothers in a British native regiment where he rose to the rank of a native commandant or captain (Subedar). During the Anglo-Mysore wars he was taken prisoner by the notorious Tippoo Sultan, and according to one tradition was released through the intervention of some *Cochin Jews led by David Rahabi, who took him to Cochin. According to another legend, he was set free by Tippoo Sultan's mother who heard that he was a Bene-Israel. Both stories state that he vowed to build a synagogue in Bombay for his own community in thanksgiving for his delivery. His "Sha'ar ha-Rahamim" synagogue, the first in Bombay, was built in 1796 on presentday Samuel Street. It was renovated in 1860 and is still in use. Divekar was appointed muqaddim by his community and the office was assigned to his family on a hereditary basis. He died on a journey to Cochin, where he went to obtain Torah scrolls and liturgical appurtenances.


S. Reinmann, Masot Shelomo (1884), 102–3; H.S. Kehimkar, The History of the Bene Israel of India (1937), 190ff., 255ff., 374; W.J. Fischel, The Haggadah of the Bene Israel of India (1968); D.S. Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, 2 (1932), 574f. add. bibliography: S.B. Isenberg, India's Bene Israel, a Comprehensive Inquiry and Source Book (1988); The Israelite, 3:3–4 (March–April 1919), 33; 7:7–8 (July–Aug. 1923).

[Walter Joseph Fischel /

Yulia Egorova (2nd ed.)]