The Jewish community’s rendezvous with the Indian subcontinent can be traced back to the ancient period. India embraced the Jews, and they assimilated into society easily. What differentiates them from other foreign communities is their cultural contribution to the country in general and to Kolkata specifically, as well as their ability to mould to local cultural trends.
Jews in India are mainly divided into three different groups—the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israelis and the Baghdadi Jews. All of them came to India at different periods of time and consolidated their own identities. The Baghdadi Jews came to India through Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bombay (Mumbai) and Rangoon (Yangon) and created a strong entrepreneurial class in these cities. After the formation of Israel in 1948, many Jews left India in the hope of a better and prosperous life. But some stayed and carried their legacy forward. This walk will discuss that legacy of the Jewish community by tracing their history in Kolkata. We will visit the magnificent structures of the Baghdadi Jews—including three synagogues, two schools and a cemetery—and explore the community’s fascinating stories.
This guided tour is free.