The Last Jews of Kerala

Edna Fernandes

The Last Jews of Kerala

Separated by a narrow stretch of swamp-like waters, and distinguished by the colour of their skin, the Black Jews and the White Jews have been locked in a rancorous feud for centuries. Only now, when their combined number has diminished to less than 50 and they are on the threshold of extinction, have the two remaining Jewish communities in south India begun to realise that their destiny, and their undoing, is the same. Living in Cochin alongside this last generation, Edna Fernandes tells their story from the illustrious arrival of their ancestors from the court of King Solomon, through their long heyday of wealth, tolerance and privilege to their present twilit existence, as synagogues crumble into disuse and weddings disappear, leaving only funerals. 3.0 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
The Last Jews of Kerala

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History, Religion & Spirituality
Format Hardback
Pages 272
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication July 2008
ISBN 978-1846270987
Publisher Portobello
 

Separated by a narrow stretch of swamp-like waters, and distinguished by the colour of their skin, the Black Jews and the White Jews have been locked in a rancorous feud for centuries. Only now, when their combined number has diminished to less than 50 and they are on the threshold of extinction, have the two remaining Jewish communities in south India begun to realise that their destiny, and their undoing, is the same. Living in Cochin alongside this last generation, Edna Fernandes tells their story from the illustrious arrival of their ancestors from the court of King Solomon, through their long heyday of wealth, tolerance and privilege to their present twilit existence, as synagogues crumble into disuse and weddings disappear, leaving only funerals.

Reviews

The Sunday Times

Robert Collins

[A] touching, investigative account of this fast-shrinking pocket of India's Jewish diaspora... Fernandes movingly captures the sombre, embattled mood of this population in “countdown mode”, all too painfully aware that they “have already become a souvenir people”.

13/07/2008

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New Humanist

Ben Rich

The small world views of the remaining inhabitants of Jew Town mean that Fernandes has to turn elsewhere for meaningful commentary on their plight. As a result the story – whilst told at a cracking pace and with the easy accessibility one would expect from an experienced journalist – veers, often uncomfortably, between a series of colourful interviews, a historical pamphlet and a travelogue... The most frustrating element of the book comes from the final interviews, not in India but in Israel. Here, Fernandes interviews members of Israel’s Indian Jewish community...Herein, for me, lies the substance of an altogether more engaging and, ultimately, more satisfying book. Unfortunately, it’s not this one.

24/04/2009

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