Judaism in Kerala


Mattancherry in Kochi is a historic locality in Ernakulam district best known for its Jewish legacy.  It is said that the erstwhile king of Kochi gave this land to the Cochin Jews in 1524. It is home to several synagogues, or Jewish places of worship, such as the Paradesi Synagogue and the Kadavumbhagam Mattancherry Synagogue, a Jewish cemetery as well as a Jew town.

There is an interesting story behind the Jewish settlement in Mattancherry, which actually gave the land its name.  According to Mr Elias Josephai, a Cochin Jew and current caretaker of the Kadavumbhagam Synagogue at Ernakulam, the younger son of Joseph Rabban, having come to Cochin, pleaded to the king that his people be given an exclusive village or piece of land (cheri in Malayalam).  When the king obliged, his gift (mattana in Hebrew) came to be called Mattancherry.