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The Last Jews Of Kerala

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  111 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Separated by a narrow stretch of waters, the Black Jews and the White Jews have been locked in a feud for centuries. Only now, with their combined number less than 50, have the two last Jewish communities in south India begun to realise that their destiny, and their undoing, is the same. Edna Fernandes tells their story.
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published August 21st 2008 by Not Avail (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 353)
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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
Aug 15, 2012 Steve Cran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily
Aug 15, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of a disappearing Jewish community in southern, tropical India, with sensitivity and attention to different historical narratives. The last chapter is also an interesting glimpse into the different experiences of Jews living in Israel, and the conflict between religious homeland v.s. India as home, as well as religious coexistence v.s. conflict. I enjoyed this book, which serves as a reminder of the complexities of religious and cultural diversity in different parts of ...more
Sajith Kumar
Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religions, but it is also one which is persecuted the most. Without sounding anti-Semitic, a plausible reason for this prejudice is the fierce religious zeal of many of its adherents and the belief that they are the only chosen people of god. With a history stretching to the time of Pharaohs, the Jews suffered at the hands of every bigot, every dictator and every psychotic ruler. The Holocaust, in which nearly six million Jews were exterminated in Europe duri ...more
Wendy
The book gave an interesting narrative by a reporter who spent time getting to know the jewish Kerala community. It refers to more comprehensive literature on the background and is a soft story of the local community. It interestingly talks about the various religous communities in Kerala who live harmoniously side by side, jew, christian, hindu and Muslim.

It explores the inner dynamics of the white and black Jewish community and was an interesting read. It makes me think Kerala would be a inter
...more
Susan
Jan 21, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sad but beautiful account of the past and present of the Jewish community in Kerala. Found it especially interesting since I had made a touristy visit to the much mentioned quaint Jew Town at Mattanchery on my last India trip. Not only is the book informative but also gives the reader much food-for-thought about how religion and faith has ended up playing a sad role in the painful disappearance of a fairly content and promising community.
Highly recommended if (like me) you prefer your history
...more
Marcy
Jul 13, 2014 Marcy rated it liked it
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
May 10, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 15, 2012 Steve Cran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 12, 2013 Babak Fakhamzadeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, far-east
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
Sep 20, 2012 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2014 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
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
Mar 22, 2010 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 14, 2010 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sophie
Jan 23, 2016 Sophie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A clear and well thought out account. She tells the stories well and comes across as impartial but fair. I felt like the book could have done with more careful editing, some information was repeated several times in the space of a few chapters.
Becky Mears
Interesting subject but not brilliantly written
Jazz Singh
Oct 28, 2015 Jazz Singh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this some years ago. It's excellent.
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.
Rishona Campbell
This wasn't a terrible book. It was informative in regards to the social dynamics of the community/communities. However it was not a comprehensive overview of the Jews of Kerala. So if you are looking for something like that...you are bound to be disappointed. I wish that the book included more graphics of the people and places that the author referred to.
Miranda Williams
May 22, 2011 Miranda Williams rated it liked it
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
Sep 24, 2013 Palkan Adarsh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2008 Anasuya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2009 Adam Krause rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Poorly written, poorly copy edited; as story research it was fluffy.
Bhaarat
May 06, 2012 Bhaarat marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Interesting
Ajit José
Ajit José marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2016
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