On a trip last November, Ottawans Toby and David Brooks visited the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi – the oldest continuously used synagogue in the British Commonwealth.
There are not many Jewish sites in all of India, but one of the best, if not the best, is found in the city of Kochi (formerly called Cochin) in the state of Kerala. Kochi offers one of India’s best ports on the Arabian Sea, and was the site of the first English settlement in India. Perhaps it is not surprising that, as one of the main sources for spices and tropical fruits across the then known world, Jewish merchants would have found their way to Kochi by sometime in the seventh or eighth centuries CE. Stories place Jews there in the first century as the Romans dispersed Jerusalem’s Jews after destruction of the Second Temple. [Read more…]