jewish-synagogue

The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations,located in Kochi, Kerala, in South India. Constructed in 1567, it is one of seven synagogues of the Malabar Yehudan or Yehudan Mappila people or Cochin Jewish community in the Kingdom of Cochin. Paradesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and the literal meaning of the term is “foreigners”, applied to the synagogue because it was built by Sephardic or Spanish-speaking Jews, some of them from families exiled in Aleppo, Safed and other West Asian localities. It is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue.The synagogue is located in the quarter of Old Cochin known as Jew Town,and is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The complex has four buildings. It was built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple on the land given to the Malabari Yehuden or ” Yehuden Mappila” community by the Raja of Kochi, Rama Varma. The Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall.

The Malabari Jews or Yehudan Mappilar (also known as Cochin Jews or Yehudan Mappila ) formed a prosperous trading community of Kerala, and they controlled a major portion of world wide spice trade. In 1568, Paradesi Jews constructed the Paradesi Synagogue adjacent to Mattancherry Palace, Cochin, now part of the Indian city of Ernakulam, on land given to them by the Raja of Kochi. The original synagogue was built in the 4th century in Kodungallur (Cranganore) when the Jews had a mercantile role in the South Indian region (now called Kerala) along the Malabar coast. When the community moved to Kochi in the 14th century, it built a new synagogue there.