Farewell to one of the last Cochin Jews

By Jennifer Lipman, August 1, 2011

The Jewish population of the Indian town of Mattancherry has dropped to single figures.

The funeral of Isaac Judah Ashkenazi, an 83-year-old Jewish resident of the town, was held on Sunday.

Mattancherry, in the Kochi region (formerly known as Cochin), was once home to a small but solid Jewish population of 250. A community was first recorded there in the 15th century.

But numbers fell after Israel declared independence and there are now believed to be just nine Jews left there, all older than 40.

The Cochin Jews are one of several distinct Jewish communities in India.

Among the others are Baghdadi Jews – the descendants of traders who arrived in India in the 19th century from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria – and the 2,100-year-old Bene Israel community.

Last updated: 9:36am, August 1 2011