December 2018 was a month of celebration in Cochin. The Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry marked its 450th anniversary in the presence of 200 joyous former Cochin residents who traveled from all over the world. They joined the few stalwarts who remain in Jew Town, including Queenie Hallegua and nonagenarian Sarah Cohen.
In nearby Ernakulam, rededicating the centuries-old Kadavambagam Synagogue was a dream come true for Elias “Babu” Josephai, who has maintained the synagogue behind Cochin Blossoms, his garden and aquarium shop. The building, which dates to the 16th or 17th century, had fallen into disrepair and closed in 1972, but a recent campaign to renovate it has restored it to its former beauty. Accompanied by drummers and Hebrew chanting, a Torah from Israel was paraded through Market Street and placed in the newly repainted ark.
Renovated Kadavambagam Synagogue, Ernakulam
Read my story about Cochin's Jewish community, published in Hadassah magazine:
Elias "Babu" Josephai