The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County is pleased to announce the opening of its new exhibit, Jews of India: The History and Practices of the Bene Israel, Cochin, and Baghdadi Jews. The Opening Reception will be held on Sunday, December 15th, from 2 PM – 4 PM, with a suggested donation of $15 per person, free for children and students.
The afternoon will include refreshments of wine, cheese, naan, and hummus. Guests will have an opportunity to hear from Monmouth County residents who are descended from Jewish Indian families, as well as other guest speakers. The Museum also has received recordings of some of the Bene Israel liturgical melodies, which will be played during the reception.
The history of the Jews of India is complex and shrouded in mystery. There are three groups: Bene Israel, Cochin, and Baghdadi, each with a different origin story. The Bene Israel has been the largest of the groups, with an oral tradition that they are descended from seven couples who were the sole survivors of a shipwreck off the Konkan coast, south of Bombay. Their arrival could date between the eighth century BCE and the sixth century CE. The Cochin and Baghdadi Jews arrived in India later and settled in different areas of the country.
This exhibit was prompted by the donation of books and artifacts by community members Yochanan and Sophie Perry. Their personal story was highlighted in the Fall 2018 issue of the Museum’s newsletter, Heritage Highlights. Family photographs, books, and objects will be on display, as well as a 1965 first day cover showing the stamp honoring the Cochin Paradesi Synagogue, which houses a set of copper plates dating from 1000 CE, given to a Jewish leader from the Hindu ruler, outlining special privileges which would forever be granted to the Jewish community.
Funding has been made possible in part by a general operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of the Department of State, through grant funds administered by the Monmouth County Historical Commission.
For more information or to make a paid reservation (non-refundable), call the Museum at 732-252-6990, or visit www.jhmomc.org. Maximum capacity is 100, so paid reservations are recommended.