note that the presence of Jews in Cochin, India, goes back to 338 AD. Today,
however, very few Jews are left there. Practically the entire Jewish community
of Cochin decided to immigrate to Israel as a group in the 1940s. Together,
after selling off their personal as well as communal wealth, much of which
had been in their community for centuries, the Cochin Jews set sail for Israel.
In 1954, fifteen of the families settled
in Moshav Nevatim, just east of Beer Sheva. The moshav, which had been settled
previously by Iraqi Jews and later by Jews from Eastern Europe finally had
a group of families with a will to farm the land. Due to their commitment,
this group made a barren area into a home. Today the moshav is home to 120
families, with a population of 600 people.
Various sources document this ancient
Jewish Indian community back to somewhere between King Solomon, the Assyrian
exile, the Babylonian exile and the destruction of the Second Temple. Renowned
as beautiful port city, Cochin was known as a key stop on trade routes.
The Cochin Jews are very proud of
their heritage. Many of their customs are unique to their community, and continue
to be followed today.
Visit the Museum of Cochin Jewish
Heritage. Be sure to see the video in Hebrew or English – which tells
the story of Cochin Jewry and their arrival in Israel. Visit the synagogue
— a replica of the one in Cochin — but with the original “bima” which
was brought over from India.