Field Notes

Preserving Jewish legacy in Kolkata

An exodus over the decades by the Jewish community in Kolkata now sees its girls' school catering to Muslims. Beyond that message of harmony, the diaspora is rallying to safeguard its history in this much-loved city even as two synagogues reopen.

The Magen David synagogue (above), one of Asia's largest synagogues, and neighbouring Beth El reopened four months ago after two years of restoration work.
The Magen David synagogue (above), one of Asia's largest synagogues, and neighbouring Beth El reopened four months ago after two years of restoration work. ST PHOTOS: NIRMALA GANAPATHY
Above: The Jewish cemetery in Kolkata. There are only about 20 Jews living in the city now. Left: Historian Jael Silliman and her mother, Mrs Flower Silliman, in their home in Kolkata.
Above: Historian Jael Silliman and her mother, Mrs Flower Silliman, in their home in Kolkata.
The Magen David synagogue (above), one of Asia's largest synagogues, and neighbouring Beth El reopened four months ago after two years of restoration work.
Above: The Jewish cemetery in Kolkata. There are only about 20 Jews living in the city now. ST PHOTOS: NIRMALA GANAPATHY
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Pedestrians, vehicles and old-style hand-pulled rickshaws jostle for space in Burrabazar in the city of Kolkata. The streets are lined with makeshift stalls selling everything from cheap trinkets to cutlery and glassware.

Men balancing sacks filled with goods on their heads regularly shout out to pedestrians and vehicles to make way.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2018, with the headline Preserving Jewish legacy in Kolkata. Subscribe