Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Jewish Wedding in Kerala, India

After the gruesome violence inflicted by terrorists at Chabad House, the Jewish community centre, during the recent Mumbai terror attacks, the small community of Jews in Kerala has something to cheer about as a Jewish wedding is planned to be held at the 400-year-old synagogue near Kochi after a gap of 21 years.
The groom Shelomo (28), an MBA graduate from Kochi, is working in Chennai while the bride, Susan hails from Mumbai.
Shelomo's family belongs to the Thekkumbhagam congregation of the Cochin Jewish community and Susan from the Bene Israel (Sons of Israel) community in Mumbai. With many of the members in the Jewish community having migrated to Israel years ago, the community here has only 48 members, 50 per cent of whom are in their eighties.

The last Jewish wedding was held in 1987 in the synagogue, noted for its mid 18th century hand painted willow patterned floor tiles from Cantum in China, Hebrew inscriptions on stone slabs, scrolls of the Old Testament and ancient scripts on copper plates. Constructed in 1568, the synagogue is the oldest in the Commonwealth. It suffered damage when it was shelled during Portuguese rule in 1662 and was re-built two years later by the Dutch. Also called the 'Pardeshi' Synagogue, it houses the copper plate dated 1000 AD given by King Bhaskara Ravi Varma to the Jews, allowing them to settle in Kochi.
Besides the one at Mattancherry, there is another synagogue at Broadway in the city. Until the 1950s, Kochi was home to five synagogues, of which only two have survived.(Source: Hindustan Times)

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