Ummid Assistant

Direct link to CBSE Class 12 results. The results online now:

http://cbseresults.nic.in

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home Special Reports

Only 27 remain, but Jews love Kolkata

Monday June 04, 2012 09:22:50 AM, Sahana Ghosh, IANS

Kolkata: Kolkata's Jews are a disappearing lot. The once thriving community of some 3,000 has now shrunk alarmingly to just 27, the lowest figure since their arrival in the late 18th century.

The creation of Israel in 1948 saw a majority of Jews leave the city. Gradually, the young branched out to other countries for better prospects, leaving the elderly behind.

Among the few who remain include an equal number of men and women.

For the unmarried males, there are no single Jewish women. Although inter-community marriages among Jews are a taboo, it is not unheard of now in Kolkata.

Shalom Israel, one of the youngest at 40 and superintendent of the lone Jewish cemetery here, says: "Sooner than later, there will be no one left to tend to the cemetery after me."

Having faced persecution throughout history in the lands they inhabited as a minority, Kolkata has been an exception for the Jews, who have had an intimate relationship with the metropolis.

Even after the terror attack in 2008 on Nariman House, the Jewish centre in Mumbai, Kolkata's Jews didn't feel threatened in any way.

"There aren't many left," moans Ian Zachariah, a 68-year-old veteran ad man and a member of the several managing committees of Jewish schools and synagogues.

He is also a descendent of the first Jew in Kolkata, Shalom Cohen.

Most Jews who came here were Baghdadi Jews - primarily from Iraq - and smaller groups from Syria and Afghanistan. The lone Jewish cemetery has graves of Russian and Polish Jews as well.

Shalom Cohen, a jeweler from Syria, arrived in Kolkata via Surat in the 1790s, with the intention to trade.

Since then, many reputed Jewish families have made Kolkata their own, raising edifices like the Chowringhee Mansion, Esplanade Mansion and Ezra Hospital. They also built business empires.

Interestingly, the caretakers of Kolkata's two magnificent synagogues on Canning Street and Pollock Street Street are Muslims.

Says Anwar Khan, one of the them: "Our ancestors have looked after the property and we'll continue to do so."

Sadly, the once regularly used synagogues are now open to the occasional tourists, many of whom are the descendents of Jewish families of Kolkata now settled in Israel, Britain, Australia and Canada.

David Nahoum, owner of Nahoum and Sons, the 110-year-old landmark Jewish Bakery in New Market, is now in his 80s and too infirm to move.

With Jews here in the 65-plus age bracket, travelling is difficult and therefore gatherings are uncommon.

But when they do meet, for example when an Israeli ambassador visits Kolkata, the hall of the Jewish Girls School suffices.

The Jewish Girls School and the Elias Meyer Free School Talmud Torah are open to all irrespective of their religion.

The original Judaeo-Arabic speaking settlers started adapting their Middle Eastern lifestyle to that of then Calcutta and gradually English and Bengali became a part of their spoken languages.

The tradition of keeping Kosher (food prepared in line with Jewish dietary laws) is rare now, with most preferring the Bengali Maacher Jhol as much as any other cuisine.

However, their core beliefs have never changed.

And despite the overall bleak picture, the Jews are here to stay.

Acknowledging this, Zachariah says: "Some of us have been here longer than many Bengali families. I belong to Kolkata, this is my home."

Truly, for these children of Israel, home is where the heart is.
 


(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana15ghosh@gmail.com)



 


 



 

 

 

 

Home | Top of the Page

Comments

Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Comments powered by DISQUS

i

i

 

 

 

Top Stories

Rift mars Anna-Ramdev joint fast against corruption

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and activist Anna Hazare's day-long fast against corruption and black money here Sunday was marred by an open rift with Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal walking out after he was   

Ramdev, Anna hold day-long fast in Delhi

Communal face of Team Anna

A flirting Modern Day Nero and submissive Modern Day Gandhi

 

  Most Read

'Mount indefinite protests over lenient Mubarak sentence'

Egyptian revolutionary movements have called for an indefinite protest in Tahrir Square in the centre of Cairo over 

Ex-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gets jail for life

Large turnout amid sporadic violence in Bengal civic polls

Amid accusations and counter-accusations of violence, brisk polling was reported Sunday during elections for six civic bodies in West Bengal - being viewed as a barometer of the popularity of the Mamata Banerjee government. According to the State Election Commission, 85 percent 

 

  News Pick

Female foeticide: Maharashtra doctor in police custody

A doctor and two midwives were Sunday remanded to police custody till June 6 by a Maharashtra court for allegedly dumping two female foetuses under a flyover here. "The magistrate's court has remanded 

A battle won for girls' education in male bastion

It has been a tough battle for Faiza Nisar Ali who helped steer the entry of girls into the erstwhile male bastion of the historic Anglo-Arabic School. Fazia and the struggle of many other Muslim women created history when the 

Poor Muslim women connect to global fashion with crafts

Marginalised Muslim craftswomen and weavers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and in the capital are making an international connection with 

 

Picture of the Day

Marginalised Muslim craftswomen and weavers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and in the capital are making an international connection with their work thanks to two projects by the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), one of the country's oldest crafts and women's empowerment organisations.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RSS  |  Contact us

 

| Quick links

News

 

Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant

 

National

Science & Technology

RSS

Scholarships

About us

International

Health

Twitter

Government Schemes

Feedback

Regional

History

Facebook

Education

Register

Politics

Opinion

Newsletter

Contact us

Business

Career

Education

     

 

 

Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.