Page 11 - CochinBrochure

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steep wood stairway leading down to the main
sanctuary. As with other Cochin Jewish houses of
prayer, this small gallery overlooks the men’s prayer
area and is supported by a pair of shaped wooden
columns (both structural as well as recalling those at
the ancient Jewish Temple). This space is unique to
synagogue architecture worldwide in that it was used
as a second bimah (reading table) for Shabbat, holiday,
and festival services.
The ground floor sanctuary measures 36' x 20'–6'
or 10.8 m x 6.15 m. Of special notice is its
painted paneled ceiling with lotus flower
medallions, curved bimah (with its tiered railing)
where the Torah was read, terracotta tiled floor,
shuttered windows set in very thick walls,
bracketed underside of the balcony, and the
beautifully hand–carved heichal (or ark – a place
for storing the Torah scrolls) fabricated out of
local teak and highlighted in gold, red, and green
(right). When the synagogue was in use, wooden
benches and a myriad of hanging colored glass
lanterns would have decorated the interior of this
delightful space.
Professor Jay A. Waronker is a practicing architect as well as interim chair
of the Department of Architecture at Southern Polytechnic State University
in Atlanta, Georgia. He has documented the synagogues of India and
southern Africa on two Fullbright grants. His architectural watercolors have
been published and exhibited internationally.
Images by Professor Jay A. Waronker and the Kerala Office of the Indian
Department of Archeology.
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