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Chennamangalam Jewish community remembers
Chaim Weizmann one year after his death, 1953
have migrated to Chennamangalam from Cranganore around the date of the
inscription in themid–thirteenth century.
In "The Song of Paliathachan", also recited by the Jews of Cochin, Jussay
claims that the Paliath Achan represented the Chennamangalam Nayar
noblemen, who bestowed upon the Jews, in the words of the song, "gifts and
books to all those who come, and titles to foreigners". The Paliath Achan
reigned in Chennamangalam until 1809. Visitors to the village can still find
the Paliyam Palace, the abode of the famous Achans of Paliyam, who were
hereditary prime ministers of the Maharajahs of Kochi Kottayil Kovilakom.
Their palace is situated on a hill overlooking the places of worship of four
major world religions: the Hindu temple, the Muslim mosque, the Christian
church and the Jewish synagogue.
The Chennamangalam synagogue was constructed in 1614, during the period
of the Portuguese Inquisition. It was surrounded by a high wall, either for
safety or to mirror the wall encompassing the Paliyam palace.
The
Jews
of
Chennamangalam lived
side by side with their
neighbours in harmony
and tolerance for over
350 years. They believed
in monotheism, yet
respected the customs of
the peoples of other
religions. They observed
all the major Jewish
festivals, fasting on the
Day of Atonement, and
baking
matzot
(unleavened bread) on
Passover.
A distinctly South Indian flavour permeated some of the rituals. For
example, on Simchat Torah, the festival of "Rejoicing of the Law", the Jews
of Chennamangalam, like the other Cochin Jews, erected a temporary Ark,
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