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The Jews of Kerala






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      Escritores Vaishnavas, Hindues, Religión, Historia, Arte, Arquitectura

      • Deshpande
      • G.P. Deshpande
      • Dr. N.A. Deshpande
      • Shanta Deshpande
      • Mrs. Indu C. Deshpande
      • G.T. Deshpande
      • Dr. Subhash Ranade & Dr. Rajendra Deshpande
      • Prof. Dr. Subhash Ranade & Prof. Dr. Rajendra Deshpande
      • Arvind Gupta IllustratorAvinash Deshpande
      • C. R. Deshpande
      • Madhav M. Deshpande
      • SHARAD DESHPANDE
      • Prof. Dr. Subhash Ranade,
      • Dr. Rajendra Deshpande &
      • Dr. Rajkumar B. Bobade

      VAISHNAVISMO

      Bhurijana Dasa

      BUDDHISMO (1021)


      LOS PURANAS


      Foreign Languages (37) - exoticindia.es



      ARTÍCULOS Y ANEXO



      The Jews of Kerala

      The Jews of Kerala


      Especificaciones
      Código del Artículo: IDF672

      por P. M. Jussay

      Paperback (Edición: 2005)

      University of Calicut
      ISBN 817748091X

      Tamaño: 8.2" X 5.3"
      Páginas: 134
      Weight of the Book: 142 gms

      Precio: Euro 13.72

      Descripción
      About the Book:

      The History of the spread of Jews and Judaism into Asia and the development of the Oriental Jewish Diaspora is still shrouded is great obscurity. As far as India proper is concerned the Jews of Cranganore in Kerala have the oldest tradition. The first evidence of Jews in Kerala is the presence of three Hebrew Parsi signatures on a copper plate granted to the Persian Christians of Qulin in the tenth century.

      In the present volume Prof. Jussay has made an attempt to reconstruct the history of Kerala Jews based on his research and study of folk songs prevalent among the Cochin Jews before their migration to Israel. Though there are various attempts by Eminent Jewish historians, including Prof. Segal, to reconstruct the past of Kerala Jews, Pussay attempt remains unique. He elicits direct information from the rich folk heritage of Kerala Jews accrued over the years in the Kerala landscape.

      Introduction

      The history of the spread of Jews and Judaism into Asia and the development of the Oriental Jewish diasporas is still shrouded in great obscurity. There is hardly any clear conception of how the Jews spread beyond the Tigris and Euphrates into the heart of Asia. There are also evidences even for their presence in Medieval China. Arabic sources inform us about their presence in Khurasan, which included eastern Persia, Afganistan, Turkestan and Transoxania. With the territory of Khurasan, the Jewish diasporas has been connected from earliest times on, and in medieval Hebrew sources, Rabbanic and Gaonic as well as Karaitic, frequent references can be seen about the Jewish association with Khurasan1. There must have been several Jewish settlements in the Gandhara region of ancient India as attested by the Arab geographer Muquaddas (985), who stated, “there are in Khurasan many Jew’s and only a few Christians,2 a situation which seems to have prevailed in subsequent centuries as reported by Benjamin of Tudela.

      Surviving ancient literature, whether Indian or Jewish, provides little clear evidence of early contacts between the Jews or the Israelites and India. However, linguistic evidence indicates the possibility of early commercial connections. The cargoes carried on the ships of King Solomon (circa 960-922 BC) and mentioned in the Biblical Book of Kings, such as kofim (apes; Sanskrit (peacocks; takai old Tamil) almug or algum (sandalwood; Sanskrit volguka are believed to have been of Indian origin. Moreover, travelers’ tales in the Talmud mention trade with India, including in specific commodities such as Indian ginger and iron. In the Biblical Book of Esther, the kingdom of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) is described as stretching from Hodu (generally accepted to be India) to Kush (generally accepted to be Ethiopia). In addition, there are uncorroborated legends about the "Ten Lost of Israel which were exiled from the Kingdom by Assyrian kings, remnants of which have been traced to remote parts of the world, including to Kashmir, Goa, and the north eastern states of India. Prom the 9th century, Jewish merchants known as Raadanites traded between West Asia and South Asia. Ancient jewish texts, dating from the 11th to the 13th centuries, discovered in the Cairo Genizah, include documents describing the trade between Arabic speaking Jews and Hindu partners in spices, medicines, textiles, metals, gold, silver and silks.

      As far as India proper is concerned the Jews of Cranganore in Kerala have the oldest tradition. Historical proof of the existence of Jews in the area of Cranganor near Cochin, and in the larger area of the Malabar Coast on the south west part of India, does not exist before tenth century AD. Claims of Jewish settlements in Kerala atleast a millennium before have considerable validity? Those who have speculated on the Jews of Kerala have connected the irrigations with the dispersion of Jews during various historical periods. Koder relates that some are descendents from the Ten Tribes, those carried into captivity from Jerusalem who arrived in India after 605 B.C. Others may have brought free Jews to Cranganore after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus. Legends in print refer to larger number coming after the destruction of the Jewish state by the Romans in 72 AD? Other legends, which claim the Jews came to Kerala from Yemen, are also plausible. Trade facilitated by monsoon winds, brought the variable commodities of India directly to Saudi Arabia (including Yemen).

      The first evidence of Jews in Kerala is the presence of three Hebrew Parsi signatures on a Copper Plate granted to the Persian .Christians of Quilon in the tenth century. On this Plate is mentioned the Jewish guild of Anjuvannam. A century later the Jews received a similar Copper Plate grant from the Cheraman Perumal, Bhaskara Ravi Varman. This aid gained the Jews recognition and afforded them rights and privileges belonging only to the highest chieftains of the land. Sternbach notes several travelers, merchants and geographers who documented medieval Jewish settlements of Kerala.

      The synagogues are the outstanding monuments of the Jewish heritage in Kerala. The earliest synagogues from the 12th through 14th centuries, which served the Cochin Jews, no longer exist, although the foundation stone from the 1344 Kochangadi synagogue is preserved. There remain six synagogues built during 16th and 17th ‘centuries and also one much more contemporary. Today only the paradesi synagogue in Cochin is functioning and nearly all the others stand in poor levels of preservation. The significance of these structures is not in their monumentality, luxurious apartments, remarkable construction techniques, but rather as buildings that are appreciably indigenous in appearance, planning, and detailing. While they do not fall under any definitive stylistic umbrella and are hence difficult to label, they indeed blend with the Kerala landscape. Dominant visitors for over four and a half centuries — the Portuguese, Dutch, or British - did leave their marks on the architecture of the region, but previous scholars have been so eager to neatly categorize these as European with only the presence of occasional imported details. These synagogues are informal vernacular structures, subject to foreign influence as all buildings were for other local group. The beauty of these structures lies in their simple yet expressive stucco clay tile, and wood forms and components, contrast of colors. progression and hierarchy of spaces, and the incorporation of gatehouses, loggias, and court surrounds.

      The purest surviving example, on Jew Street at North Parur, of 1616 or 1621, is entered off the road into a ceremonial gate house. which connects onto a breezeway covered by a gabled tiled roof detailed with wooden latticed sides. The breezeway adjoins and enclosed, double-storied ante—room leading finally to the sanctuary proper. A generous courtyard defined by a high stucco—faced wall surrounds the free standing sanctuary. In their current state, the Paradesi synagogue and buildings at Kadavumbagam (literally meaning by the side of the river) in Emakulam and at Mala of 1597 also contain variations or fragmentations of this theme. It is this sequence of spatial events — a decidedly axial arrangement — that transforms the arrival at the synagogue and progression to the sanctuary into a pleasant and inenarrable experience. The effect is dramatic and highly ceremonial.

      The interiors of sanctuaries in Cochin synagogues, as with other moderate small—scaled buildings in Kerala, are made up of straightforward, orthogonal spaces. With the standard arrangement of fenestration, furniture, religious objects, and lighting fixtures found in most Indian synagogues, those in Cochin normally feature beamed tray. or coffered ceilings of stained wood that interestingly, recall house synagogue that existed in Dura Europa in Syria dating from 244 AD. Often it contains stylized, nature-based ornament, such as lotus flower carving which is a decoration common to temples, mosques and churches of Kerala. Other distinct features of Cochin synagogues are their exterior and interior lattice screen work, curved brass podia and two pulpits, a significant social, religious, and architectural anomaly. The primary podium and pulpit, used for regular services, is located in the main prayer area on the ground floor near the men’s seating. A second pulpit, positioned on the gallery level adjacent to the screened women’s seating area is used for holidays and important events. lt is thus very interesting that the women, who do not take an active role in the service, are the closest to the activity of the service on these special occasions. The gallery in all Cochin synagogues, accessed via a steep ladder of open risers(sometimes twelve of them corresponding with the number of ancient Jewish tribes), is supported by two ornamental turned painted wood or polished metal columns. Once again, these supports could possibly be attributed to those found in the Second Temple.

      Jews in India in India Jews are found scattered in small groups having among them Europeans, Bagdadis, Manipuris, Marathis and Malayalees. The European Jews who live in India are mainly from Germany and Austria, fleeing the anti—Semitic witch—hunt of Hitler and his henchmen. The Bagdadis known also as Iraquis came to the country as immigrants. Butun like the Europeans and the Bagdadis, the Manipuri, the Marathi and the Malayalee Jews can be considered sons of the soil, their fore fathers having come to India centuries ago and having been absorbed into the infinitely absorbent ocean of India. The Manipuri Jews, having East Asian features claim that their ancestors were Jews of Kaifang in the province of Honan in China, who migrated first to Burma and thence to Manipur and Mizoram, but were converted to Christianity in the 18th century. The Marathi Jews who call themselves Bene Israel — are the largest Jewish community in India and are found clustered in the Konkan area of Maharashtra. The Malayalee Jews, known as "Cochin is" or Malabarees could be found till recently living in small congregations on the Western Coast settlements.

      In the present volume Prof. Jus say has made an attempt to reconstruct the history of Kerala Jews based on his research and study of folk songs prevalent among the Cochin Jews before their migration to Israel. Though there are various attempts by eminent Jewish historians, including Prof .J.B. Segal,. to reconstruct the past of Kerala Jews, Prof. jus says attempt remains unique. He elicits direct information from the rich folk heritage of Kerala Jews accrued over the years in the Kerala landscape.

      Foreword

      The ancient community of the Jews of Kerala is fading out fast. Most of them have migrated to the land of Israel leaving behind literally a handful of old and sickly souls. Even those who are left behind will soon be gathered into the bosom of Abraham. With that, this thin, long, bright strand in the multi—colored fabric of Kerala’s population would become just a faint mark. Before this happens, it is necessary to collect as much information as possible about their history, customs and manners and preserve it in print. This has now been possible with the help of the Department of History of Calicut University.

      It was by sheer accident that this book came to be written. There was in Calicut, in the sixties, an association known as Kerala Sahitya Samithi. The late Mr. N.V. Krishna Warrier was its promoter and late. Prof. Joseph Mundasseri was the President. Most of the writers residing in and around the city of Calicut were the members of it. At one meeting Prof. Mundasseri put forward a proposal "let us all join together and write a book on the peoples of Kerala. Almost all communities are represented here. Each one should write an article about his community giving its origin, development, customs and manners. The article should be ready within three months. Mr. Krishna Warier will collect them and publish them as a special edition of Mathrubhoomi Weekly. All welcomed the proposal with enthusiasm. Mundasseri said that he would write about Christians and call it the" Confessions of a Sinful Christian". It was received with applause, Then Krishna Warier got up and declared quoting a line from Kunjan Nambiar that he would massacre all the "Ambala Vasis". Again there was applause and laughter, Then Kesavadev loudly declared that he would, at one stroke, break the toddy pot of the Ezhavas. This was followed by MT Vasttdevan Nair. He said, "l shall hang the ruined Nair on the beam of his Nalukettu". Then it was the turn of NP Mohammed to declare that he would perform the Sunnath of the Muslim. The meeting was about to come to an end. Then I stood up and said, "Sir, you have left out a community".

      Although the emigration to Israel had commenced, only a few Jews had left. There were still a number of Jews in Chennamangalam. Parur, Ernakulam and Cochin. So I went about meeting the leaders and the learned about the community and collected from them whatever information they could give. They were very kind and hospitable and answered my questions as best as they could. Some gave me some old books written by foreign writers. Thus I preparedly article within the time allotted and gave it to Mr. Krishna Warrier The article was a fairly long one. He said, "it was the only article received and so he would publish it in the next issue of Mathrubhoomi Weekly. Thus it was published on January 22, 1967 as the leading article. It was the first time that an article about the Jews of Kerala in Malayalam was published. It was well received and readers from various parts of India called over telephone and congratulated me and were seeking clarifications. It was then that I realized how shallow was my knowledge in the subject. So I tried to acquire more knowledge.

      It was the time when preparations were going on for the celebration of the 400"‘Anniversary of the Paradesi Synagogue of Cochin on a grand scale. So I was invited to give a series of talks on the Jews of Kerala from All India Radio, Calicut. I was also invited to contribute an article on the subject to the Viswavignanakosam edited by PT. Bhaskara Panicker. A few articles were also contributed to some English Newspapers and periodicals.

      At that time Prof. Leshnik, A Jew from Germany, visited Kerala. He contacted me and told me that a friend of his by name Mrs. Sherly Isenberg was interested in the subject and he was passing on my address to her and that I could correspond with her.

      During my meetings with the leaders of Jewish settlements, I had came to know that they had a number of ancient songs in Malayalam. These songs contain their historical traditions. I was told that these songs were not printed and preserved, but were being passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. However, a few enterprising women might have written them down in notebooks. So I attempted to collect these songs. In this attempt Sherly Isenberg and Barbara Johnson of Massachusetts University helped me. We were able to collect about twenty—five notebooks, which contain about 250 different songs. Some of them are very ancient and some very modern. We do not know who wrote them and when they were written. Some songs are lost. But the Jews remember certain lines of these songs and have a general idea of them.

      From these songs it is possible to get an idea of the time, of the arrival of Jews in Kerala and some of the main events that happened to them in their long history. A copy of these songs collected by me is kept in the archives of the Department of History of Calicut University. The members of the Department of History, Dr. MCS Narayanan, Dr, K.J john and late Prof. MP Sreedharan of Malabar Christian College, Calicut, urged me to present a paper on the Jewish songs at the Indian History Congress held at Hyderabad in I978Thus, the history of Jews of Kerala was first introduced to the scholars of Indian History Congress.

      Meanwhile, Barbara was able to get a grant from a Jewish foundation in USA for me to go to Israel. Thus all the three of us, Sherly, Barbara and me, could join together and coordinate our work on this subject. At that time, India and Israel had not established diplomatic relations. So the Government of Israel could not help us officially. However, a number of scholars came forward to help us. They organized meetings at which I was able to present the history of Jews of Kerala as best as I could. I was also invited to the various Universities abroad to speak about this tiny remnant of Israel in a far off corner of the world. I was also accepted as a Research Scholar in the prestigious Benzvi Research Institute at Jerusalem.

      After three months, I thought of returning home as I had exhausted the grant I was given. Knowing this, the then President of Israel, Mr. Itzaak Navon granted me an audience and from his own savings gave me a large sum to continue my research in Israel for another three months.

      After returning home I continued my research work and collected more information on the subject. This enabled me to present some more papers at the annual sessions of Indian History Congress in subsequent years. Some more papers are included as appendices to this volume.

      Meanwhile, my friends in the History Congress were urging me to put in a book form all the information on the subject which were gathered. At first I was reluctant because I thought I was too old and infirm for the task. But they insisted and promised me their help. Thus I yielded and I am happy because the work is successfully completed.

      For this, I owe deep debt of gratitude to many of my friends both in India and abroad. It was Prof. Charles Beckingham of London University, who first suggested that I should write a book of this kind at least to correct the wrong impression that had been created among he readers on the subject by foreign writers. These foreign writers who came to cochin were the guests of white Jews and they accepted in good faith whatever they were told. White Jews described black Jews as the children of slaves or of concubines kept by rich white Jews. But this is not true. However others repeated this wrong information and it became current and was accepted as the truth.

      Black Jews were poor and so they were delegated to the periphery of the community. There were a few Jews who were children of slaves and concubines and they were also poor. They formed the poor section of the community and thus all the Black Jews came to be low borns.

      I have tired to correct this wrong impression Prof. Beckingham introduced me to his colleague in the University J.B. Segal. Segal sent me a copy of his book which indeed is a mine of information. This book had been of great help to me in the preparation of my little volume.

      There are a number of friends in Israel to whom I am indebted. For example Mr. Michael Glatzer the director of Benzvi Institute Hedda Jasson, Dr. Dov Noy of Hebrew University of Jerusalem all have helped me a great deal.

      In India Mrs. Gladis Koder and late Mr. Satu Koder, Mr. Sam Hallegua, Mrs. Sarah Cohen and late Mr. Jacob Cohen, were always ready to help me. But it was the members of department of history of Calicut University, Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan and Dr. K.J. John the present head of the Department helped me the most. So I present this work of mine which I would like to explain in the words of touchstone in as you like it A poor virgin Sir and ill favored thing sir but mine own.

      CONTENTS

      General Editor's Introduction 7

      Foreword 12
      I. The Jews of Kerala 17
      II. Later Settlement 33
      Appendix I A Jewish Settlement in Medieval Kerala 61
      Appendix II Caste division Among the Jews of Kerala 70
      Appendix III The Songs of Evarayi 77
      Appendix IV The Ancient Wedding Customs of he Jews of Kerala 93
      Appendix V The Malayalam Folksongs of the Cochin Jews 105
      Appendix VI The Wedding Songs of he Cochin Jews and of the Knanite Christians of Kerala 118
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