Page 5 - CochinBrochure

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Kadvil family in Chennamangalam
David Ben Gurion and Bezalel Eliyahu
[Courtesy of Simcha and Yosef–Hai Eliahu]
Chennamangalam; in 1950, there
were only 46 families in the
In 1948, the State of Israel was
declared. The Cochin Jews, who
had always recited prayers for the
return to Zion, decided en masse
to immigrate to the new state. In
1949, when the first group of 17
Jews left the Malabar coast for
Israel, it included members of the
Chennamangalam community. Dr. Immanuel Olswanger, an eminent linguist
and emissary from Israel, visited Kerala in January, 1950. He met with the
Jewish communities of Cochin, Ernakulam, Mala, Parur and
Chennamangalam, and offered them the opportunity to help realize the
Zionist dream. Planning the emigration took several years. Once medical
matters were resolved, in 1954, most of the members of these Jewish
communities were flown to Israel by the Jewish Agency. By the end of the
twentieth century, all the Jews of Chennamangalam had departed.
In the late 1990's, after a visit by Kerala Governor Babu Paul to Israel and
contact with local Israeli Cochin Jewish organizations, including the Kol
Mevasser association, the Kerala Government decided to initiate a master
plan to renovate synagogues and holy places of worship in Kerala . The first
site to be restored was the synagogue at Chennamangalam. The Department
of Archaeology of Kerala undertook the task of renovating the synagogue
without disturbing the original structure, and the Department of Tourism
allocated funds for the project. After the last trustee of the synagogue, a local
lawyer, Aaron Aaron, passed away, the restoration of the synagogue began.
The Kerala Department of Archaeology dedicated the newly–renovated
Chennamangalam synagogue in February, 2005.
The Jews of Chennamangalam
integrated well into the new
state in Israel. At first, nearly
all settled in moshavim
today, some are married to
non–Indian Jews and many live
in the cities. Some Jews from
Chennamangalam have made
their mark on Israeli and world
horticulture. Their children
study at institutes of higher