Alvaro Dionis (Diniz) (Shmuel ibn Yahya) (c.1532 - d.) MP

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Nicknames: "Shmuel Moshe ben Don Gedaliah"
Birthdate:
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Managed by: Jaim Harlow
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About Alvaro Dionis (Diniz) (Shmuel ibn Yahya)

Shmuel (a/k/a Samuel Moises Castiel of Cochin who was originally living in Cairo when hired by Afonso – a distant cousin through the Paloma Don Fadrique liaison) Samuel had a brother named Isaac Pinto Castiel.

According to Josef Wolff in his “Researches and missionary labours among the Jews, Mohammedans, and other sects” Samuel Castiel was also called “The Prince” and “Governor” of Cochin Jewish Community, India. Samuel was a translator and Physician for the local King of Cranganore. as well as translator and physician of Afonso de Albuquerque, the Second Governor of the Portuguese territiories in India. . Jewish translators were not converted to Christianity since it was in the best interest of their employer that their employee was not ostracized by their co-religionists.

Samuel Castiel was a “White Jew” to whom the “black Jews” paid annual tribute – payments to the “Kings of Cochin” who had very strong ties to the Dutch East India Company. This writer's research leads him to believe that Samuel Castile's Y-DNA Haplogroup is J2b2* since 37% of the Conchin Jewish Males share this haplogroup. These very same Cochin “White Jews” were also referred to as Mudaliars. Pardesi (foreigners) Jews known also as "White Jews" and Malabar (or Black) Jews make allusion to the long history of tensions between them and the Pardesi Jews although they were a minority ,always managed to win a privileged position in relation to other Jews within the context of local society. Based on their influence and economic power , and occupying the high ground of purity of origins - fundamental aspect in the caste-based society - the “White” or “Paradesi Jews”, despite the fierce criticism of the rabbis, managed to "push" the majority of Malabar Jews into an inferior social situation , at least until the advent of Mahatma Ghandi's liberation. David B'laila, Samuel Castiel, Ephraim Salaḥ, and Joseph Levi built a synagogue in Cranganore – 16 miles north of Cochin in 1568.

The synagogue and community of Parur - one of the Malabar synagogue to be found in various places - is closely linked with the Portugues presence . It is the oldest of the remaining synagogues - the original building dated from 1164 and was rebuilt in 1616 on the orders of David Jacob Castiel, the fourth Mudaliar according to the inscription on one of the walls. This dates the arrival of “Castiel” family to roughly 1492. According to an anonymous Hebrew chronicle giving the history of the Malabar Jews, and now preserved in the University Library at Cambridge, England, his grandfather had come from Jerusalem; though this statement is perhaps not to be taken literally, as the whiteJews in Cochin are sometimes called "Jerusalem Jews" ("Jüd. Lit.-Blatt," xix. No. 25, p. 95; "Jewish Quarterly Review," i. 23). The same chronicle mentions a Ḥayyim Belilla (ḥazan), who had come from Safed.

Spanish and Portuguese exiles came after the Inquisition, and others arrived fleeing persecution in the Middle East. In 1560 the Portuguese set up an office of the Inquisition in Goa, halfway between Bombay and Cochin, and even more Jews sought the protection of Cheraman Parumal, the Raja of Cochin, referred to as "King of the Jews" by Portuguese authorities.

The Jews could not have survived under Portuguese rule (1502-1663) had it not been for Parumal. In 1565 he gave them a strip of land next to his palace and in 1568 permitted them to build a synagogue not 30 yards from his temple. He appointed a hereditary mudaliar (chief) from among the Jews and invested the position with special privileges and jurisdiction in all internal matters in the Jewish community. This office continued in force under subsequent rajas and even under Dutch and British rule. The Hallegua (Halioua) family, which still holds the title, continues to be influential in Cochin.

There are few places in the world where Jews can claim centuries of peaceful coexistence with the local population. The district of Jew town in Cochin on the Malabar Coast of Southern India is one of them .

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