KOCHI: Jews from Kochi settled in Israel gifted Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a ‘shofar’ - a wind instrument made of a ram’s horn used for religious ceremonies - during a public event at Tel Aviv on Wednesday.The 8,000-strong Kochi Jews in Israel used the occasion to request the Indian Government to preserve their heritage back in Kerala, including the renovation of synagogues and cemeteries of their ancestors.
Based in Rehovot about 20 km off Tel Aviv, Samson Pallivadikal, 71, said except for the Paravur synagogue - which has been converted into a museum - most of the synagogues and cemeteries in Kerala are in a bad state.
“Modi’s visit is a good occasion to raise our concerns on the issue,” Samson told Express. He is on a two-month visit to his native Paravur along with his wife Miriam Artzi Pallivadikal, 68. Along with his family, he migrated to Israel in 1973.
There are seven synagogues in Kerala - two each in Mattanchery and Ernakulam and one each in Paravur, Chendamangalam and Mala. Speaking over phone from Israel, Menahim Pallivathikkal, who shifted from Paravur to Israel in November 1975, said the preservation of Jewish heritage in the state was an important issue for the community.
He hoped the Indian Government would take the right steps taking a cue from the goodwill created from Modi’s three-day visit to Tel Aviv.
“We expect the Kochi Jews in Israel to attend Modi’s public meeting on Wednesday. Preserving our heritage and culture is of high importance to us,” Menahim told Express while attending the public meeting on Wednesday.
Tirza Lavi, whose family relocated from Kochi to Israel back in 1971, said: “We appreciate the government’s steps to renovate the synagogues of Paravur and Chendamangalam. We would request the same for Kadavumbhagam synagogue (on Ernakulam Jew Street) and the one in Mala. Especially, the cemetery in Mala should be protected,” she said.“We wish to see and show our synagogues and cemeteries of our ancestors in Kerala to our children and grandchildren. We request the Prime Minister and the government to protect and preserve the historic and precious monuments,” she said.