Paradesi Synagogue


The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations,[ located in Kochi, Kerala, in South India. Constructed in 1567, it is one of seven synagogues of the Malabar Yehudan or Yehudan Mappila people or Cochin Jewish community in the Kingdom of Cochin. Paradesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and the literal meaning of the term is “foreigners”, applied to the synagogue because it was built by Sephardic or Spanish-speaking Jews, some of them from families exiled in Aleppo, Safed and other West Asian localities. It is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue. The synagogue is located in the quarter of Old Cochin known as Jew Town, and is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall.

The synagogue is open for a fee to visitors as a historic attraction. The ticket-seller, Yaheh Hallegua, is the last female Paradesi Jew of child-bearing age. The synagogue is closed on Fridays Saturdays and Sundays and also on Jewish holidays. Timing to visit the Mattanherry Synagogue is from 5:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m and then it again opens from 5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m.

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