Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Jews of Kerala

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. 

Parts of Fort Kochi today have a visible Jewish heritage, from synagogues to 'Jewish Streets' to signs in Hebrew.

Jewish synagogue in Kochi
Years passed and once Israel was formed, many of them opted to return and their numbers in this country dwindled. 

It seems like a part of history - of a time when rulers were inclusive, visitors were grateful and peace reigned for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment