"Cochin Jews" India's Oldest Black Jews since 587 B.C.

It is so interesting to that in this day and time so much information is surfacing about the origin and color of the original Hebrews and the scripture is so clear that The Father would scatter his children to the four corners of the earth. Please enjoy you can also find this on Wikapedia.

Cochin Jews, also called Malabar Jews (Malabar Yehudan), are the oldest group of Jews in India, with roots dating to the time of King Solomon.[2] Historically, they lived in the Kingdom of Cochin in South India,[3] now part of the state of Kerala. Several rounds of immigration of the Jewish diaspora into Kerala led to an ethnic, but not a linguistic, diversity: the community was divided into White Jews and Black Jews, both of which spoke Judeo-Malayalam, a form of the Malayalam tongue native to the state.[4] The vast majority of the Cochin Jews emigrated to Israel; the number remaining in Kerala itself is minuscule, and the community faces extinction there.

Biblical Account
The Bible contains the first mention of Jews in connection with India.[citation needed] The Book of Esther, which dates from the second century B.C, cites decrees enacted by Ahasuerus relating to the Jews dispersed throughout the provinces of his empire from Hodu to Kush. Hodu is Hebrew for India[6][7]; Kush is Ethiopia[8]. Talmudic and Midrashic literature also mention spices, perfumes, plants, animals, textiles, gems and crockery which either bear names of Indian origin or are indigenous to the country.[9][10]
Traders in King Solomon's time carried out regular sea voyages to the South Indian coast, bartering for ivory, apes, and silver, and the first Cochin Jews may have been the children of Israelite sailors and local women.[11] Following the destruction of the First Temple in the Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC), some Jewish exiles came to India.[12] But it was after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE that the first wave of large numbers of settlers came to Cranganore, an ancient port near Cochin.[13] Cranganore, now transliterated as Kodungallur, but also known under other names, is a city of legendary importance to this community. Fernandes goes so far as to call it "a substitute Jerusalem in India"[14] and Katz and Goldberg note the "symbolic intertwining" of the two cities.[15]
St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, is supposed to have visited India, and many of the Jews who converted to Christianity at that time became Nasrani or Saint Thomas Christians.[16]
Central to the history of the Cochin Jews is their close relationship with Indian rulers, and this was eventually codified on a set of copper plates granting the community special privileges. The date of these plates, known as "S√Ęsanam",[17] is contentious, with local tradition setting it as long ago as 379 CE, although paleographic evidence suggests the mid-eighth century. Whatever the date, the Jewish leader Joseph Rabban was granted the rank of prince over the Jews of Cochin, given the rulership and tax revenue of a pocket principality in Anjuvannam, near Cranganore, and rights to seventy-two "free houses".[18] The Hindu king gave permission in perpetuity (or, in the more poetic expression of those days, "as long as the world and moon exist") for Jews to live freely, build synagogues, and own property "without conditions attached".[19][20] A link back to Rabban, "the king of Shingly" (another name for Cranganore), was a sign of both purity and prestige. Rabban's descendants maintained this distinct community until a chieftainship dispute broke out between two brothers, one of them named Joseph Azar, in the sixteenth century.
The oldest gravestone of a Cochin Jew is written in Hebrew and dates to 1269 CE. It is near the Chendamangalam Synogogue, now a museum[21]
In 1341 a disastrous flood silted up the port of Cranganore, and trade shifted to a smaller port at Cochin (Kochi). Many of the Jews moved quickly, and within four years the first synagogue had been completed.[22] The Portuguese Empire established a trading beachhead in 1500, and until 1663 remained the dominant power. They were not kind to the Jews.

European Jews arrive
Black jew of cochin with Payot
The Paradesi Jews, also called "White Jews," settled in the region at about this time. In the sixteenth century, Jews in many parts of Europe faced religious persecution under the Inquisition, and were exiled from countries where they had been living for centuries, such as Holland and Spain. They brought with them the Ladino language and their Sephardic customs. They found the Black Malabari Jewish community quite different, and tensions between the two communities existed from early on, according to Mandelbaum[23] The European Jews had good trade links with their countries of origin, and useful languages to conduct international trade, which helped their position both financially and politically.
In 1524, the Muslims, backed by the ruler of Calicut (today called Kozhikode and not to be confused with Calcutta), attacked these wealthy Jews of Cranganore on the pretext that they had an advantage with the pepper trade. The Jews fled south to the Kingdom of Cochin, seeking the protection of the Cochin Royal Family (Perumpadapu Swaroopam). The Hindu Raja of Cochin, Bhaskara Ravi Varman II (979— 1021) gave them asylum. Moreover, he exempted Jews from taxation but bestowed on them all privileges enjoyed by the tax-payers.[24]
Shortly thereafter, the Portuguese occupied the Kingdom of Cochin and suppressed the Jews until the Dutch displaced them in 1660. The new Protestant rulers were more tolerant of the Jews than the Catholics had been. (See the Goa Inquisition for the situation in nearby Goa.)

Traditions and way of life
An Indian Jewish family in Cochin
Group of Cochin Jews
The 12th century Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela wrote about the Malabari coast of Kerala: "The inhabitants are all black, and the Jews also. The latter are good and benevolent. They know the law of Moses and the prophets, and to a small extent the Talmud and Halacha."[31] Maimonides (1135–1204), the preeminent Jewish philosopher of his day, wrote, "Only lately some well-to-do men came forward and purchased three copies of my code [the Mishneh Torah] which they distributed through messengers...Thus the horizon of these Jews was widened and the religious life in all communities as far as India revived."[32] (The Baghdadi Jews came to India in the 18th century, and it was only then that the Bene Israel Jews of India were "discovered" and taught mainstream Judaism by the Cochinis and Baghdadis,[33] so Maimonides must be referring to the Cochini Jews.)
Further support for the Mishneh Torah circulating in India comes in the form of a letter sent from Safed, Israel to Italy in 1535. In it David del Rossi claimed that a Jewish merchant from Tripoli had told him the India town of Shingly (Cranganore) had a large Jewish population who dabbled in yearly pepper trade with the Portuguese. As far as their religious life, he wrote they: "only recognize the Code of Maimonides and possessed no other authority or Traditional law."[34] According to Katz, Rabbi Nissim of Gerona (the Ran) visited the Cochini Jews, and they preserve in their song books the poem he wrote about them.[35] In the Kadavumbagham synagogue, there was a yeshiva (school) for both "children's education and adult study of Torah and Mishnah."[36]
The early twentieth century Jewish Encyclopedia states, "Though they neither eat nor drink together, nor intermarry, the Black and the White Jews of Cochin have almost the same social and religious customs. They hold the same doctrines, use the same ritual (Sephardic), observe the same feasts and fasts, dress alike, and have adopted the same language Malayalam. ... The two classes are equally strict in religious observances,"[37] and prominently featured is a black Cochin Jew with his entire head shaved, save for his very prominent peyot. According to Chemana, the Jews of Cochin "coalesced around the religious fundamentals: devotion and strict obedience to Biblical Judaism and to the Jewish customs and traditions ... Hebrew, taught through the Torah texts by rabbis and teachers who came especially from Yemen...".
It is notable that the Jews of Cochin did not adhere to the Talmudic prohibition against public singing by women (kol isha), and therefore have always had a rich tradition of Jewish prayers and narrative songs performed by women in Judeo-Malayalam.[38][39][40] (However, this Talmudic prohibition is not absolute; there are in fact traditional Orthodox interpretations which sanction certain kinds of singing performances by women before men, and other historical Jewish communities besides the Cochini one relied on this lenient interpretation.[41])
Benedicta Pereira, a Paradesi Jew, writes, "Mostly the older people prohibited the use of milk and meat the same day in the house[;] and to scare the young Jew's[,] [sic] so as not to be inspired by the culture[,] there were stories of bad Omens for those who dare[d] to think even of milk and meat together


Bala Menon said…
Hi Eliana,

Please visit

You will find some interesting info there...
Bala Menon

Popular posts from this blog


Black Othodox Jewish Man Paves the Way in Israel for Barack Obama.