|Navheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcuttarangandatta.wordpress.com|
|Magen David Synagogue Kolkatawww.bongblogger.com|
thriving metropolis and an important commercial center of British India. The Jewish community, in small number, moved in to explore business
opportunities in Bengal. Most of the new comers, besides Jews were either with the British government as employees or were traders. As for the Jewish community, over a period of time they grew in stature and gained considerable influence with the rulers. As you may be aware, the Jewish presence in India is not new and this community has been living in India since 50 AD especially on the west coast - Malabar coast of Kerala. The Calcutta Jewish community included mostly Baghdadi Jews. The first recorded Jewish immigrant to Kolkata was one Shalom Aharon Obadiah Cohen, who arrived in Kolkata in 1798. He was born in Aleppo in present day Syria in 1762.He was already a well established trader in Surat (now in Gujarat) before moving over to Calcutta. Though they adopted Jewish-Arabic style of living, succeeding generations used English as the medium of communication and followed European culture and dress style.
|Interiors of Beth El Synagogue, Kolkatarangandatta.wordpress.com|
|Beth El Synagogue, Calcutta (Kolkata) rangandatta.wordpress.com/|
The Neveh Shalome Synagogue was rebuilt in 1910 (it was demolished in 1884) on the vacant plot in the Magen David Synagogue complex. The above-mentioned synagogues catered to the needs of the Jewish community in Kolkata. Their business acumen coupled with the ability to assimilate with other cultures saw their upward mobility in India.
Beth El Synagogue was built by David Joseph Ezra and Ezekiel Judah 1856. Located on Pollock street, it can be approached through a flight of marble steps. It has attractive stained color glass windows, the best one being the arched stained color glass window at the very entrance, shinning chandeliers and beautiful floor. The balconies here, are for the women worshipers. As in many Jewish temples, 'Apse' represents heaven and the raised platform is for the Rabbi (Jewish priest) to preach.
Magen David Synagogue was built by Elias David Joseph Ezra in 1884. This complex is located at the cross section of canning street (Rash Behari Ave) and Brabourne Road. The 140 feet high historical tower is an important land mark here. An arched door with the ''Star of David” and Hebrew inscriptions attract your attention at the entrance. This place of worship is not in use, but is well maintained. There are many pieces of Jewish Iconography, the one that may grab your attention is Menorah, the seven branched lamp on a stand.
The other synagogues are Magen Aboth Synagogue,in the Tiretta Bazar (Old Chinatown) and Shaare Rasoon Synagogue- the former is demolished and the latter is simply a prayer hall located at Sudder street and Free school street.
The thriving Jewish population had begun to decline after India's independence and the birth of a new separate Jewish nation - Israel. Thousands of Jews from India made Aliyah" (migrated) to Israel.
In this transitory world, with the passage of time historical monuments and buildings are slowly disappearing due to our negligence, not realizing our responsibility to preserve them for our progeny. Our historical past is relevant to our present life, so is our life to the future one.