Judaism in Kerala

Services in Synagogues

During the times of their highest prosperity, the Jews of Kerala used to conduct regular services in eight synagogues. The Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry was patronized by the Paradesi (White) Jews, Jews who considered themselves to have “pure” European or Middle-Eastern blood. The remaining seven synagogues were used by the Malabari (Black) Jews, or Jews born of the union between the European Jews and the natives. They are the Paravur Synagogue, the Chendamangalam Synagogue, the Kadavumbhagam Ernakulam Synagogue, the Thekkumbhagam Ernakulam Synagogue, the Kadavumbhagam Mattancherry Synagogue, and the Thekkumbhagam Mattancherry Synagogue in Ernakulam, and the Mala Synagogue in Thrissur.

Following the formation of their Promised Land, the nation of Israel in 1948, most of the Jews of Kerala left in the 1950s and the 1960s never to return to their home in South India.  At present, the number of Jews remaining in the state is only 50 or less. Due to the shortage of Rabbis (Jewish priests), miniyan (a group of ten Jewish men whose presence is mandatory for performing prayers and certain rituals) and the dwindling population of Jews, most of the synagogues lie in a state of disuse and/or have been converted to museums. Presently, prayers are conducted by the last remaining Jews of Kerala only at the Paradesi Synagogue.