J. D. B. News Letter

Cochin Jewry, the oldest Jewish community in India, is just now awakening to the fact that unless immediate steps are taken to organize the community, a very dismal future is in store.

This small Jewish group, comprising 1,500 persons in all, which has the distinction of being the oldest Jewish settlement in India, represents also the smallest and poorest Jewish group in the land.

If, however, Cochin Jewry is poor in material resources, it is rich in Jewish tradition. A notable feature of its communal life since the organization of the community in the sixteenth century is the consistency with which its members have sought to consolidate their position by adherence to the tenets of Judaism.

Despite the paucity of their numbers and the weakness of the general communal organization, orthodox Judaism has been tenaciously and consciously preserved.

The catholicity with which the tenets of Judaism are observed by Jews residing in this tiny location on the Malabar coast is second to none and rivals that of the much larger and more influential communities in other sections of India.

The remarkable zeal with which Cochin Jews have preserved their religion throughout the centuries today has its reward in religious amenities in which no sister community excels.

It is no exaggeration to state that nowhere else in India is the full exercise of his religion assured to the Jew as in Cochin.

Saturdays and Jewish holy days are gazetted holidays for the Jews. No public officer may demand that a Jew work on these days.

No public examinations are held on Saturdays. Even the Madras University has abstained from holding examinations on Saturday or on Jewish holy days when there were Jewish candidates.

Moreover there is a special constituency where Jewish tax payers can elect their own candidates for the Cochin Legislative Assembly.

No other Jewish community in India has such privileges. Nowhere else are either the Sabbath or other Jewish holy days recognized as days on which the Jews are excused from labor.

Cochin Jewry’s privileges were not achieved easily or quickly. They represent years of indefatigable effort on the part of capable and unselfish workers during a period when Cochin Jews were well organized.

Cochin is no exception to the rule

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