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Jewish Cemetery

Cemeteries are not as common in a country known for cremation. However, the Indian city of Kochi is home to a Jewish community that dates back to the 15th century. Generations of Jews are buried in this cemetary.

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Star of David

In the midst of a country known for its Hindu population, the Star of David can be found in the several block radii that’s known for its slowly diminishing Jewish community. In the 15th century, an Indian ruler in the Indian state of Kerala granted land to a group of Jews fleeing persecution in Portugal.

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Jew Town

Kochi, India, is a multi-faith city, home to Muslims, Christians, Catholics, and Jews. This gate in the city’s ‘Jew Town,’ is positioned just across the street from the city’s Jewish synagogue.

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Jewish Cemetery

The Indian state of Kerala is known as ‘God’s Own Country,’ hinting at the many faiths that call the province home. Cemeteries are not as common in a country known for cremation. However, the Indian city of Kochi is home to a Jewish community dating back to the 15th century.

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Jew Town

What’s locally known as ‘Jew Town’ in the Indian city of Kochi is home to a dwindling community of Jews who fled persecution in Portugal in the 15th century. There are only a handful of Jews remaining, though the shop names still point to the faith of the community’s founders.

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Jew Town

What’s locally known as ‘Jew Town’ in the Indian city of Kochi is home to a dwindling community of Jews who fled persecution in Portugal in the 15th century. There are only a handful of Jews remaining, though the shop names still point to the faith of the community’s founders.

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Dozing Man

A man dozes on a bench in front of the home of a Jewish family in the city of Kochi in the Indian state of Kerala. Jewish communities are a minority in India, but this state is home to two ancient communities.

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Jew Town

A man sells souvenirs on ‘Jew Town’ road in the city of Kochi. Once home to a thriving Jewish community, the street is now more of a tourist haven.

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Sarah Cohen

Ninety-six year old Sarah Cohen prepares to sing a devotional song taken from the Torah. Though kippahs are traditionally worn by Jewish men, Cohen wears one before she sings devotional songs. Cohen is a Paradesi Jew and lives in the city of Kochi in Kerala, India. Cohen often sings for the visitors she receives daily. She even sang for Prince Charles.

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Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen, a Paradesi Jew, holds a book of Hebrew devotional songs. Cohen hails from a line of Jews who moved to India as a result of persecution in Portugal in the 15th century.

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Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen is ninety-six years old and one of the last Paradesi Jews of India. Her home was once also her embroidery shop. Now no longer able to embroider, she spends her days visiting with local and international tourists.

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Jew Town

‘Jew Town’ road in the Indian city of Kochi is home to many arts and antique dealers. Many local tourists visit the Jewish synagogue at the end of the road to learn about the Jewish community from Portugal who made Kochi home in the 15th century.

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Sarah Cohen

Sarah Cohen sings a devotional song taken from the Torah. Cohen is a Paradesi Jew and lives in the city of Kochi in Kerala, India. Cohen often sings for the visitors she receives daily. Many people have heard of her, for she is one of the few remaining members of her community.

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Sarah Cohen

Thaha Ibrahim, Sarah Cohen’s Muslim caretaker, opens her songbook in preparation for Cohen to sing songs in Hebrew. Ibrahim has been caring for Cohen for years. He knew of Cohen since he was a boy, selling items on the street. He says she treats him like a son. Cohen and her husband never had any children. Ibrahim jokes that technically he’s not allowed to touch Jewish holy books, but Cohen lets him.

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Cohen’s Home

The second floor of Sarah Cohen’s home features photos of her and her late husband, Jacob. Cohen is a Paradesi Jew and lives in southern India. This community of Jews fled persecution in Portugal and were granted land and citizenship by an Indian ruler.

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Cohen’s Home

One of Sarah Cohen’s photo album features photos from a trip to the Holy Land. On the trip, Cohen visited the Wailing Wall. Cohen’s community was once much larger. Many of the community moved to Israel after it gained statehood.

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Cohen’s Home

Because of her advancing age, Sarah Cohen spends her days and nights on the first floor. The second floor still houses photos and photo albums as well as a Star of David.

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Cohen’s Home

A framed wedding photo of Sarah Cohen and her late husband, Jacob, hangs on the wall on the second floor of Cohen’s house. The Cohen’s ancestors moved to India from Portugal. Sarah Cohen speaks the local language, Malayalam, as well as English and Hebrew.

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Cohen’s Home

Photos from various periods of time in the lives of Sarah Cohen and her late husband, Jacob, decorate the upstairs floor of Cohen’s house.

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Cohen’s Home

In the center photo, Cohen and her late husband celebrate their wedding anniversary with the local community in Kochi. The photo album to the left highlights memories from their trips to Israel. Due to Cohen’s reduced mobility, she is not as easily able to access the second floor.

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