Satamkar (also Satamker) is a Bene Israel family who lived for centuries in Kolaba (now Raigad District) in the Konkan region, India. Most members moved to Israel from the 1960s through the 1980s; some have settled elsewhere in the world.
The Satamkar family has its origins in the village of Satamba/Virjoli (18.343726°N 73.092846°E), Roha taluka, Raigad district, Maharashtra, near the West Coast of India south of Mumbai. This family belongs to the Bene Israel community, one of the three groups of Indian Jews. According to tradition, ancestors of the Bene Israel were Jewish men who came to India about 2000 years ago, settled and married into the indigenous population. They are believed to have converted their wives or at least maintained some Jewish traditions in their families.
Life in Kolaba
The Bene Israel have been living in the Kolaba (today: Raigad) District for close to eighteen centuries. The Satamkar ancestors used to dwell in villages from which they were believed to have taken their surnames (Satamkar = from Satamba (Virjoli), Penker = from the town called Pen, Ashtamkar = from the town called Ashtami, etc. …). Satamba means, in Marathi, ‘Seven Mangoes’. For centuries their principal occupation was oil pressing. They extracted oil from a kind of sesame seed called til and were known as Shaniwar Telli (“Saturday oil pressers”), because they did not work on Saturday.
Settling throughout India
At the end of the 18th century and, especially during the 19th century, the men enlisted in the Army. With a tradition of literacy, they also found positions in the British colonial government, in the civil service, the railways, the Post office, Customs and Excise. From that time, they settled in all parts of India (present India and Pakistan). Many lived in Mumbai working as carpenters or contractors (‘maistry’).
At the beginning of the 19th century, some left their village for Mumbai, Nandgaon, Maharashtra and other places. Most members of the Satamkar family lived in Satamba/Virjoli until the 1970s.
Emigration from India
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, most of the Satamkar family emigrated to Israel; many Bene Israel had already left in the 1950s. Some of them now live in the United Kingdom, the U.S.A., Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil and other western countries. Some of the family still resides in India.