Remembering the Jews of Kochi, India
The “White” or Paradesi Jews were primarily exiles from the Spanish Inquisition in Spain and Portugal and settled in Kochi while the “Black” or Malabari Jews migrated centuries earlier and lived in several places.
When I was an international teacher in India, I joined two of my expat colleagues on a short trip to the Malabar Coast in the state of Kerala. Our journey included a stop in Kochi, formerly Cochin. Years earlier, I had admired a picture of one of Kochi’s synagogues in a calendar highlighting unique synagogues. The Paradesi Synagogue was built in 1568 near the maharaja’s palace in Jew Town. It is considered to be the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth. I never imagined that I would visit this synagogue twice and also search for nearby Jewish communities.