The Malabar Jews
The Jew town sandwiched between the by lanes of Cochin’s Mattancherry area is a famous tourist hub today. Lined with quaint antique shops and colonial buildings there is an old-world charm about this place. But all that you see here, is just a small slice of Jewish history in Kerala. The Jews of Malabar have been around for millennia and they have deep roots here.
Few sources like S.S. Koder and research papers on Cochin Jews speculate that the Jewish traders first came to India during the time of King Solomon, the third King of Israel and considered to be the most able and wise ruler in the 10th Century BC. According to the above sources, they traded in Indian apes, peacocks and sandalwood. But most speculate these to be Biblical accounts. Others believe that the Jews came from Persia as a result of an exodus, a little later in the 5th Century BC during the reign of King Kobad. One of the oldest printed books on Cochin Jews Noticas dos Judeos de Cochin written by Moses de Pavia, an emissary sent by the Dutch who visited Cochin in mid 1600s, asserts that ‘Seventy to Eighty Thousand Jews’ arrived at the Malabar Coast in 370 CE from Majorca in Spain where their forefathers were taken as captives.