Jewish Synagogue

The Jewish synagogue otherwise known as the Paradesi Synagogue was built by the White Jews in Cochin, Kerala. It is the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the commonwealth nations. The Jewish synagogue built in Jew Town in 1568 is a beautiful structure. It is well maintained and functions as the place of worship for the existing Jewish community. It is also a major attraction of Cochin as its cultural and religious significance is immense.

The Mattancherry Palace and the Jewish Synagogue have a common wall. It is built on the land gifted to the Malabari Yehudan Community or the Cochin Jewish Community by the then Cochin King Rama Varma. This place of worship attracts numerous visitors every year because of its impressive furnishings. There are splendid Chinese tiles and impressive Belgian chandeliers that have been used to decorate throughout the entire synagogue. The synagogue’s oldest artifact is a fourth century copper plate inscription from the Raja of Cochin. The other valuable antique pieces in the Cochin Jewish synagogue are the Scrolls of the Law, gold crowns received by the Jewish community as gifts, Belgian glass chandeliers, and a brass-railed pulpit. Another valuable antique is an oriental rug, which was gifted by Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian Emperor. Above the entrance, a gallery supported by slender gilt columns was reserved for the female members of the congregation.

On top of the exquisite decorations in the synagogue, giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. Even though it seems a little unusual for a Jewish place of worship to be found in India, Jews actually started to live in the area beginning in around 700BC. This particular Jewish synagogue can be found near the Dutch Palace in Mattancherry.

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