Monday, December 19, 2011

Jewish Synagogue, Fort Kochi

Jewish Synagogue at Matancherry- Also known as the Paradesi Synagogue, it is located in a section of Old Cochin in Jew Town.

The soothing interiors of the Matancherry synagogue with huge bauble-like candle-holders is a must-see. A visit to the venue unfolds the story about the arrival and assimilation of the Jewish communities in Kochi long before Israel was formed. Plan your visit with care since the synagogue is closed on Fridays and Saturdays and other Jewish holidays. 

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Malabar Jews meet the king of Cranganore

The year was 70 AD. Rome had attacked Palestine and rent the land asunder. Handfuls of the Jewish people fled in small boats with whatever little they could. One of the boats landed on what was then called Shingly (now Cranganore or Kodungulloor), a trade center for spices, ivory and coconut along the Malabar coast. 

The people on the boat disembarked with gifts forth for the king, who had arrived - all dressed in finery and shaded by a royal umbrella. He permitted the people on the boat to make Cranganore their home. Not only that, he granted them social standing in his kingdom. The group made the new place their home and came to be called the Malabar Jews. Years passed and once Israel was formed, many of them opted to return and their numbers in this country dwindled. 

The Ethnic Passage, an art gallery in Mattancherry is holding an exhibition on "Jews of Malabar" from Dec-1 to Dec-8. It is a subject of active interest to people from different parts of Kochi. 

Locals who have worked with the Jewish people and forged close ties with them and members of different religious denominations have contributed to setting up the event. Visit the exhibition and recreate a part of history - of a time when rulers were inclusive, visitors were grateful and peace reigned for a while.

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