Jerusalem, Byzantium and then ...Ernakulam. In tracing Jewish history across the world, a typically busy, noisy and lively South Indian city would certainly not be a place where most people will come to have a look. Legend has it that the Jews first arrived in Kerala a little later in 68AD. Yet, this date doesn't stand up to historical scrutiny. The first recorded evidence of Jews in Kerala can be reasonably fixed to about the 8th century. In his book, "Who are the Jews of India", Nathan Katz suggests that the earliest Jews came to India around the time. Copper plates, which date back to the 8th century attest to this fact, in which Bhaskara Ravi Varman, the King of Cochin gave the title of Mudaliar (or local head-man) to Joseph Rabban. Bhaskara Ravi Varman also granted the Jewish community 72 privileges, including the right to use a day lamp and a decorative cloth to walk on; the privilege of blowing a trumpet and erecting a palanquin; and the right to obtain exemption and collect particular taxes. These privileges were bestowed upon the Cochin Jewish leader Joseph Rabban for "as long as the world, sun and moon endure". In 1948, after the establishment of the state of Israel, a few Cochinni Jews left but it was not until 1954 that one saw a mass migration of almost all the members of the community.
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