The Jewish built heritage in Kolkata mirrors the plight of the dwindling community. But now, the Archaeological Survey of India is throwing it a lifeline.
The ASI on Friday promised to “protect and project the glory of the Jewish community” by renovating the monuments built a hundred years ago. Regional director of ASI (east) P K Mishra visited three synagogues on Friday along with the gritty Aline M Cohen, who has been battling every odd to conserve Jewish monuments in the city.
Two of these — Beth El Synagogue and Maghen David Synagogue — are nationally protected monuments but the third, Shalome Synagogue, is unprotected although it is equally important to the community’s history and heritage. It stands next to the Maghen David structure. The Beth El and Maghen David Synagogues were declared national monuments and brought under ASI protection in 2003.
A unique Jewish tourism circuit will be developed in the city, which will begin with a festival-cum-fair to exhibit the unique facets of Jewish life and culture. The Jewish community will itself restore Neveh Shalome Synagogue, which marked its centenary in 2011.
Most Kolkatans are not aware of these synagogues, tucked away as they are behind office buildings and hawker stalls in Canning Street and Pollock Street.
The Jewish community has a special place in Kolkata’s heart. The first recorded Jewish immigrant to Kolkata was Shalome Cohen in 1798 from Aleppo (Syria). The most influential Jewish family in Kolkata was perhaps the father-son real estate magnates of David Joseph Ezra and Elia David Ezra, who founded the Jewish Girls School. The confectioner Nahoum’s in New Market is still a top draw.
Team M3.tv hopes with the creation of a Jewish tourism circuit in the city both the inhabitants of the city as well as the tourists from outside will get a balanced insight into one of the facets of Kolkata’s history. These precious memories are too special to let go off.