With Sarah Cohen – Jew Town – Kochi
Jews in God’s Own Country by Mark Ulyseas
“India, she the grim Stepmother of our kind”, wrote Rudyard Kipling in his poem Christmas in India. He couldn’t have been further from the truth for history bears witness to India’s benign acceptance of all those that arrive on its shores seeking a haven to practice their religion in peace, free of persecution. The earliest known instance is the arrival of Jews in India around 2500 years ago.
However, I shall not talk about history and instead share with you dear readers my visit to the historical Jew Town in Mattancherry, Cochin, Kerala, and my meeting with the eldest member of the dwindling Jewish community, the sprightly octogenarian Sarah Cohen, who resides a stone’s throw from the four hundred and forty three year old Paradesi Synagogue.
Sarah Cohen’s Life and Times in Jew Town
Born September 04, 1922, Jew Town, Cochin, very close to where she lives now. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her mother Khatoon Cohen died when she was very young so her father, Abraham Cohen, sent her to live with her grandparents in Jew Town. Unfortunately, they were uneducated and didn’t know what it meant to be a Jew. She studied in St. Teresa’s Convent in Ernakulam and completed 10th Standard where the medium of instruction was Malayalam. So, she never learned to speak Hebrew, nor read it…read more below.
© Mark Ulyseas