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A synagogue in Mumbai?

Pavel Pustelnik

September 15, 2012 | 6:16 am

the keneseth eliyahoo synagogue

Mumbai. Yes, exotic more than you can imagine. And in the middle of the city there is a huge synagogue. It is blue and as exotic as the whole city.

- Where are you from? - Poland. - Aaaa, Holand, The Netherlands! -No, Poland. - Aaaa, Poland! After the standard conversation with a police officer we just learn that we cannot enter the synagogue. - Come back tomorrow, sir. So we are coming back the next day. The air is humid and smells of everything. The same police officer is around and welcomes us with a wide smile. - Now open, please go. It is hard to call his look into our bags as a security control, but apparently the area is safe.

The synagogue seems to be under constant construction or constant demolition. Workers are walking around, doing pretty much nothing. The walls are covered with some kind of clay in some parts. In some places there is only a bit of shaded paint. The building sits proudly and looks at the small buildings around. It is cut from the outside only to some extent. The noise from outside is very present and it is pointless to look for relief here. It is hard to imagine any celebration taking place here. The whole space is cut into small parts with bamboo scaffold. Not really used, but omnipresent in India.

Talking to anyone here does not help much - apart from the fact that taking pictures relates to a payment of 200Rs there is not much that we can learn from the staff. We head towards an information board. What a surprise! "The Famous Madonna Visits The Synagogue". "The Famous Madonna" is obviously a pop singer who paid visit to the building. Some twenty faded pictures show the whole event in details. Any information about the synagogue or the local community? Not really.

Finally we learn from our guide that the building was constructed in the 19th century and painted in stunning blue that is visible up to today. The building was to commemorate Elias David Sasson, a businessman trading with India. The synagogue is built of bricks and Cooria stone. This is all what can be found for now, but the inquiry is in progress...

*This article has been sent from an internet cafe in Mysore, where the tiles are crazily yellow, krishnas are looking at the computer users and the boss of the place watches Bollywood movies. Greetings from India :)

 

ps. You can find more synagogue photos here : http://jewrnalism.com/jewrnalism-gallery/journeys?page=2#category

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Jews visiting Central & Eastern Europe frequently come with stereotypes and prejudices about the region.  In particular, group heritage and education tours for young Jews...

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