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Kolkata's Jewish connect archived digitally

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

Documenting the contribution of the fast dwindling Jewish community of Kolkata, a digital archive has brought together a collection of their fading memories.

Jael Silliman, one of the few remaining Baghdadi Jews in Kolkata, has created the online archive with documents, photographs, letters, memoirs and videos charting the 200-year-old history of Jews in the city.

"Jews have played an important role in the growth of Kolkata as a city and I want to showcase that through the website www.Jewishcalcutta.In. Jews had flourished here and were pretty successful in whatever they did. I have brought all of that together," the 59-year-old Nehru Fulbright scholar told PTI.

The Baghdadi Jewish community came to Kolkata during the British Raj and were more than 3000 in number during Independence but have now been decimated to less than 30.

"After that they started shifting to other countries because they were unsure about their economic future as India took the policy of nationalisation," Silliman said.

Cyril Cohen and Aaron Harazi, two of the most elderly in the community, were interviewed and filmed for the project.

The film, put up on the website, also showcases the magnificent synagogues and the tale of Jewish Girls School where no Jewish girl has taken admission in the last 40 years.

Rare photographs of Kolkata-born Esther Victoria Abraham aka Pramila, a Bollywood actress and also the first 'Miss India', is a special attraction.

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First Published: Thu, September 04 2014. 11:46 IST
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