Our series on Jewish communities Around the World, generously sponsored by Sisterhood has been a great success! We learned about the Jewish communities in Ethiopia and Italy. To round out our series, join us on Thursday January 15 at 7:30 p.m. for our program on The Jews of India.
Bala Menon, a publisher and writer, will join us along with Kenny Salem to share with us about Jewish life in India. Bala writes:
The Cochinin (as the Jews from Cochin are called in Israel) make up one of the tiniest and most ancient of all Jewish communities in the Diaspora. They trace their history on the lush, monsoon-swept Malabar coast in south-western India to 2000 years ago, first landing on those pristine shores as sailors in the fleets of King Solomon to purchase spices, animals and precious metals. Their songs and traditions tell of their early settlements in places like Paloor and Cranganore soon after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 BCE. Recorded history begins with copper plates granted by the Kings of Kerala to Christian settlers and which were signed by Jewish merchants in 849 CE and the most famous one granted to Jewish chieftain Joseph Rabban in the year 1000 CE which gave them great social status and privileges “as long as the sun, moon and the world exists.” These plates are preserved in the fabulous Paradesi Synagogue in Cochin, built in 1568 CE and is the oldest functioning synagogue in the Commonwealth. The community lives on in Israel today and still adheres to its famed Malabar cuisine, songs, the Judeo-Malayalam language and other cultural aspects.