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Making 'foreign' one's own

Sadia Shepard came to India in 2001 on a Fulbright grant to study the history of the Bene Israel community. Her trip was driven not so much by scholarship as by her need to pluck a very personal strand of history. Sadia’s grandmother had been a Jew until she married into a Muslim family. As a child growing up in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Sadia often heard her grandmother recount her past: “A very long time ago, your ancestors left Israel in a ship—a big, wide wooden ship—and they were shipwrecked, in India. They were Jews, but they settled in India. In the ...