Friday, 27 July 2012

Jew Town, Kerala

In the eastern part of Cochin, there's a port area called Mattancherry, which contains the tiny remnant of a once thriving Jewish community. You can count on your hands how many Jews are left in the town, but one principal attraction seems to be going strong - the old synagogue. For better, but mostly worse, the temple is on the tourist trail and tons of people are dragged every day down a small dead end lane to see the place. The area also holds historical value for a once thriving spice trade that's still alive today. But the cruise ship folks seem to be required to visit the synagogue.

The sad irony is that there's no active community to keep the place running - most people having immigrated to Israel. So a synagogue is left behind for non-Jews to pick over like an archeological site. The final irony is the lane leading to the site is lined with souvenir shops, mostly owned by Muslims from Kashmir.

The synagogue complex. The actual temple is in an inner courtyard, through the door to the left. Unfortunately, no picture-taking inside. The lane, a gauntlet of souvenir shops taking advantage of the sideshow at the end of the block.

A couple of signs. Jew cemetery, Jew road, it's coming up Jew everywhere. "Please, buy our stuff. It is OK to go off the cruise ship, leader guide edict!" That's the spirit, make sure the shopping experience is genuine.

1 comment:

  1. Sad but poignant. Cruise ships.... a whole different consciousness. Terah