The Last Jews of Kerala: The 2,000 Year History of India's Forgotten Jewish Community
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The Last Jews of Kerala: The 2,000 Year History of India's Forgotten Jewish Community

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Two thousand years ago, trade routes and the fall of Jerusalem took Jewish settlers seeking sanctuary across Europe and Asia. One little-known group settled in Kerala, in tropical southwestern India. Eventually numbering in the thousands, with eight synagogues, they prospered. Some came to possess vast estates and plantations, and many enjoyed economic privilege and politi...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published 2008)
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Petra X
I thought that this subject would have benefited by having a non-Jewish author to document the end of a people who had a much-different world experience than any other of these dispersed people. It didn't and obviously her editor wasn't Jewish either. Silly factual errors really rather do spoil a book that has obviously been quite deeply researched.

The premise of the book is that of the several Jewish communities in India, some of which have been there since the time of King Solomon and are doc...more
Steve Cran
This is my second time reading this book. Some may find it a bit opinionated others will love the history that is relayed to the reader in this book. Big question here is what causes a community or society to fold. The author points to community dissension and an apartheid type apparatus operating in the Cochini Jewish community. There are two groups of Jews in Kerala, one is a darker skinned almost Indian looking Jew and another one which hail form Europe is of lighter complexion. The lighter c...more
Marcy
I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about Indian Jews--especially because this is the first book I've read about them where the author gives some plausible explanation for how they got here and also why so many became Zionist colonists in Palestine. Here the mythology of a biblical ship wreck is not the story one gets as to how Jews arrived in India--it was about trading relations. Too, it was economics that pushed them out in the 1950s when they first started moving to Bedouin areas o...more
Carol
This book is an account of that portion of the Jewish diaspora that wound up on the southwest coast of India, in Kerala. King Solomon sent traders there before the Christian era, and later, after the destruction of the temples, additional Jews wound up on its shores. These early settlers, heavily male, intermarried with the dark-skinned local women and their descendants, retaining dark coloration, are known as "black Jews". One early settler made a great impression on the local Raja and was gran...more
Steve Cran
This is my second time reading this book. Some may find it a bit opinionated others will love the history that is relayed to the reader in this book. Big question here is what causes a community or society to fold. The author points to community dissension and an apartheid type apparatus operating in the Cochini Jewish community. There are two groups of Jews in Kerala, one is a darker skinned almost Indian looking Jew and another one which hail form Europe is of lighter complexion. The lighter c...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Excellent portrait of this vanishing ethnic group.
The old testament contains suggestive hints that already as far back as king Solomon's days, Jews traded between Israel and the west Indian coast. It's not unlikely that already back then some Jews either remained behind or left offspring in India.
However, quite certain is that after the Roman destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, in 70AD, some Jews did move to India to settle. Then, in two more waves after that, Jews came to India as well, t...more
Emma
Unfortunately I started reading this book just after returning from Kerala. (I only heard of it on my trip.) This was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the descriptions she gives of the people, food, atmosphere, and city brought back wonderful memories of my time in Kerala and I often knew exactly what she was talking about.

On the other hand, however, during my trip I knew nothing about the Jews of Cochi, and had to read the book kicking myself because I had not visited Jew Town, etc, while I w...more
Elaine
This was an ok read. It was mostly depressing as she kept on talking about a vanishing community. Yes, I agree its about to happen. The thing that shocked me the most was the apartheid towards the Black Jews. I found that to be so sad and horrendous.
There was one note of confidence from the one person in Israel who sees Israel as his homeland and is flourishing with his business, and now that business is bad is changing his business - GO Brother!!

Crystal
I learned that the Jews have been in India for thousands of years. They traded with India for decorations for the first temple of Solomon. They were awarded a high status by the Indian Raj, and enjoyed respect and peace in India unlike any other country to which they came. Those who had been in India a long time had intermarried and had darker skin than those who escaped Europe during the inquisition. The later, light-skinned Jews dubbed the others "Black Jews," kicked them out of their temple,...more
Linda
This is a very interesting read about the ancient Jewish Community in Kerala in India. Jews have been living in this area for around two thousand years in harmony with the Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The book traces the history and life of this unique community of Jews which is dying out due to it's own racial divide between the Black Jews and the White Jews.

Rather than being just history it is a social history with interviews of the "last" Jews and it even traces some who have migrated to I...more
Christoph Fischer
"The Last Jews of Kerala" by Edna Fernandes in an interesting and well researched historical study and account of a small minority in India. It is accurate and brings to life many small biographies over centuries and some interviews with the last members of that particular group. I did find that at times it lacked a bit of bite or journalistic edge, at least for my liking and I was beginning to loose interest towards the end of the book.
Miranda Williams
Interesting and sad anaylsis of why the Jewish popuation in Kerala has declined so drastically; the feud between the Black and White Jews plus the exodus to Israel after 1948 . For those that left Kerala,There appeared to have left a wonderful, peaceful life in Kerala which they swopped for a western, state that was permenently in the state of conflict.
Neelakantan Nair
As a Keralite I felt there were a few weird discrepancies mostly with the names of places which I found quite inexplicable. The content could have been better researched as well though this book I more about the personal experiences than history. A bit more depth and 3rd person commentary would have made this a must read.
Palkan Adarsh
Very honestly written book. The harsh facts have also been presented in an extremely subtle fashion. Unlike the history books full of text this one actually is woven with anecdotes.....folklores....poetry which keeps you engrossed and the way of writing takes you back in the days of the Jewish lanes...
Sandra
Poignant. Could have included more material, though. Many passages/topics/sentiments are repeated a few times in the book. Will be of interest to Malayalees, Jews, Malayalee Jews, and others interested in this unique culture.
Michelle
This was a pretty good book but it didn't hold my interest. I stopped at page 130.
Anasuya
Very engaging writing and well researched reportage about this micro-community.
Ann Fisher
Fascinating look at a corner of the world I knew nothing about.
Adam Krause
Poorly written, poorly copy edited; as story research it was fluffy.
Bhaarat
May 06, 2012 Bhaarat marked it as to-read
Interesting
Manasi
Manasi marked it as to-read
Sep 03, 2014
Ngaio
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Jul 15, 2014
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Cherian marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2014
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