Earlier today I came across a site — a blog, where you can submit your story in six sentences. Here’s the link: Six Sentences and below my submission.
Jewtown, Fort Cochin
We found our way to Jewtown in Fort Cochin, Kerala, India where the street is lined with old shops that have names like Sarah Jacob’s Taylor Shop, but the Jews are long gone. There’s a synagogue built in the 1500’s — the oldest in India, now a tourist attraction – outside, white stone with a large window shaped like a star of David, inside not so different from any old shul with a pulpit, a rich blue curtain with gold lettering covering the ark and hiding the torah, a plaque with the shma, another shaped like the tablets with the ten commandments, a chandelier, an upstairs women’s section. The tourists come everyday except Saturday, but no one is left who knows anything about the Jews. It’s a Sunday at the end of Diwali, and a lot of Indians are traveling and enjoying the holiday, so that day many of our fellow tourists are Indians. My partner and I are trying to remember our Hebrew, pointing and reading the shma when a young woman in a yellow sari asks me about the words. I say them aloud first in Hebrew and then I translate, explain the context, and find myself giving an impromptu tour pointing out where the women sat and why, discussing the mystery behind the curtain, that the rabbi was not a priest just a teacher, and how the torah would be carried around and the men would have a chance to kiss it.