Shalom India Housing Society
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ESTHER DAVID is a Bene Israel Jew living in India. She is the author of The Walled City, By the Sabarmati, Book of Esther, Book of Rachel, My Father's Zoo, and Shalom India Housing Society. She is the co-author of India's Jewish Heritage, Ritual, Art, and Life Cycle.

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Shalom India Housing Society

A Novel
Esther David

Afterword by Jael Silliman

Over two thousand years ago, remnants of one of the lost tribes of Israel appeared on the shores of India. They became known in India as the Bene Israel. Nothing has been the same since.

After religious riots break out in modern Ahmedabad, a handful of the tribe’s descendants band together to live in a communal housing complex: the Shalom India Housing Society. Nestled amidst their Hindu and Muslim neighbors, the residents of these charming apartments find ways to laugh (the laughing club meets every morning on the lawn) and love, whether it is a crush next door or an Internet date with a distant Israeli.

Writing with wit and an artist’s eye for detail, Esther David vividly portrays a resilient group who share a fondness for the liquor-loving Prophet Elijah and costume parties. These true-to-life stories depict the joys and conflicts of a people continually choosing between the Indian traditions of their homeland and their Jewish heritage.

"Hilarious and heartwarming . . ."

Asian Age

"Esther David perfectly portrays the individuals of the Bene Israel Jewish community in Ahmedabad, many of them torn between Israel's siren song and their own unique Indo-Jewish heritage. Hers is a window into an all too human world, presided over by a comic though attentive Prophet Elijah."

—Janet M. Powers, author of Kites Over the Mango Tree: Restoring Harmony Between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat

"Shalom India Housing Society . . . is a poignant tale of a group never quite at home in its homeland."

—Amy Rosenberg,

"Social anthropology, with a good deal of heart thrown in."

—Mitali Saran, Sunday Business Standard, India

"Though humorously tailored, Esther David has portrayed the fears and issues faced by the members of this small community to keep their identity, culture, and beliefs sacrosanct in India, a land of many gods. . . . Though the characters in this book are Jews settled in India, the insecurities the book vocalizes are the feelings and frustrations of the members of a minority community everywhere in this world."

Feminist Review

"[T]he nuanced portrayal of this diminishing community as a whole is quietly affecting."


"A delight to read, and an education as well, Esther David's new book is like being dropped down into the midst of an extended family's reunion. You might not know everybody when you first get there, but it's only a matter of time before you feel right at home."


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