A major portion of an ancient and non-operational synagogue in Kochi has collapsed due to heavy rains on Tuesday (September 10).
The Jews of Kochi comprises of the Black Jews, the White Jews and the Meshuhrarim Jews. The Black Jews are known to have similar appearance to the locals and are believed to be the descendants of the first Jews who came to Kerala. They were allowed to worship in the Pardesi Synagogue, but were not given full membership.
‘Karutha Palli’ or the Synagogue of Black Jews was built more than 400 years ago. This place of worship was located at Marakkadavu in Mattancherry, a short distance away from Mattancherry’s famous ‘paradesi’ synagogue.
The synagogue belongs to the Malabari Jews and was in a ruined state as it had been non-operational for quite some time. Its front portion collapsed due to the continuous rains that have been lashing the state.
The interiors of some of the ruined synagogues in Kerala were moved to Israel, restored and displayed in a museum there, sources said.
The Jews in Kochi are mostly settled in the areas of Mattanchery. During the 1960s, several Jews went back to Israel and the worship at the synagogue almost stopped. The building was considered unstable and was used a storage space for past many years.
Only the ‘paradesi’ synagogue in Mattancherry still functions as a synagogue. The synagogue is open every day except Fridays, Saturdays and on Jewish holidays.
With the heavy rains that has been pounding Kerala for a month, the building that once served as a temple for a prosperous Jewish community and marked an important part of Jewish history in the state has been reduced to debris.
The structure known as ‘Karutha palli’ (synagogue of black Jews) was constructed centuries ago in 1550 AD and was considered as a symbol of racism that existed among Jews in Kerala – the ‘paradesi’ Jews (white Jews) and the native Jews (black Jews).
(With inputs from PTI)