Sunday, November 22, 2009

Research on Cochin Jewish Cuisine

For my research topic I chose Cochin Jewish cuisine. For that I had started collecting the data for that I got the verbal help from Sarah Auntie including the kashurath law and some recipes and a week before I got a printed recipes from Queenie Auntie, which include the dishes like Tuna Pastel, Jewish capsicum chicken etc. I even plan for the a portion to kept for the topic similarities in malabari Jewish and Muslim cuisine , that starts from the strict observance of dietary law to the identical dishes with different names
Here you can see the pictures of Sarah Auntie with Kadathala Pastel (egg mixture wrapped kadathala i.e. a thin rice flour pan cake) in the grill pan.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Simchat Torah –A Cochin version of Tolerance and Peace

The Jews in Cochin is always a bit different from the other Jews in the world as they have their own version of everything. The Pardesi Synagogue well decorated with gold and silver embroidered Parakoth, Jasmine flower garlands, Candles and other traditional decorative which they used years ago and those are used still as a symbol of love to the traditions. As explained by Sarah Auntie and Thaha.

On 8th evening I went to Sarah Auntie’s house as she invited me for seeing the Simchat Torah festival to be followed next three days. When I went there, Thaha was stitching the old Parakoth which will be above 50 years old with an ivory colour embroidered with gold plated silver thread and it was given to the synagogue by “Issaac Hallegua” as it is written. Sarah auntie was explaining about the parakoth her father brought from Bombay as a tribute to her late Mother and she told that it was brought in a big box it was also embroidered in gold plated silver and she asked Thaha to take me along with him to synagogue to show that parakoth She came out of her house and was still explaining about the parakoth all the tourists were looking at me literally a center of attraction oops….. He took me to Synagogue, the evening light gave a fine touch to it and I was amazed to see beautifully decorated synagogue.Mr.Joy the care taker of synagogue and Solomon an old man who is assistant to him both are Christians and they were decorating the synagogue with the help of some other Kashmiri shopkeepers of Jews street. we gave the stitched parakoth to Mr. joy he was still engaged in the decorating works and we went back to Sarah auntie’s house and I promised her that I will be coming tomorrow. To see the Aalvilakku “the light which resembles a banyan tree ”.

The next day when I went there Her, Seli chechi and Thaha was making Kadathala Pasthel (a delicacy snack of Cochin Jews) for Shabbat and she allowed me to try making one and she gave a good comment on it and it was easy to me as I had tried it once in my home. And we grilled it with a little of Coconut oil. After I went out I saw Gammy uncle whose name is Gamliel I sat with him in the cut stone which was there in front of aunt’s house and Thaha too joined. Gammy uncle explained many funny stories of his child hood days and about the other stories of late Sassoon kocha (Kocha and kaaka are two old words used by other people to call cochin jews generally) he was a character who used to crack good jokes as gammy uncle explained.stories took a long way and was absolutely funny and even it gave a unclear picture of old cochin Jewish community, by the time the Aalvilakku was lighted and we went to see it and clicked many photos Isaac uncle came out of synagogue and saw the Magen David lamp placed in a wrong direction by the workers.

Later Me,Thaha and Joy placed it in right position.

Then had a talk with the police men who are the guards of synagogue and answered their questions about the Jewish community and culture. By the time went on a car came to the Jew street and a family came out and they were from Hyderabad. they were amazed to see this auspicious evening with lighted aalvilakku and they asked about it to a police man but I explained to them about it was something special to me and hope for them too. And I introduced Thaha to them and show my Hebrew calligraphic pieces and said to Mr.Vinod that these are the symbols of peace and harmony which you can see only in cochin, he was happy with it I read it from his face they left I promised that I will make a call.

The next Day I went to Sarah Auntie’s house with some fruits as it was Shabbat. Seli chechi took Tea with some banana chips, and some other snacks ,“burdoor” ( a specialty sponge cake of Cochin Jews) and one special cake with dried fruits and nuts with the taste of Ghee (Indian Clarified butter). Isaac uncle also joined for that and he was talking about the similarity between Jews and Muslims and said we are brothers and he asked me how I learned Hebrew. Sarah Aunt told that Isaac Uncle liked me very much otherwise he wont talk to you this much. later Gammy uncle also came there and I asked Seli chechi to take the oranges that I brought we had it together by the time Sarah auntie came dressed with ruby red sari and gold ornaments. She asked me to bring my mom to show the decorated synagogue and she made a call and at last my whole family came to visit Sarah Auntie and Thana’s family also came by that time and Auntie took us to Synagogue it was the time for them for prayer but as there was only less number of Jews to be a Asarah (a number of ten) but she tooked us and we saw the beautifully decorated synagogue. Gammy uncle along with others was sitting with one person as I didn’t knew him I went to him and wished and he introduced as Sam and I asked for his full name he told Yosef Abraham I wrote it in Hebrew and showed he was pretty amazed and showed to his Jewish friend from Israel he also liked it then I went to gammy uncles wife who already was there just beside them stood the Sam’s wife and his daughter, gammy uncles wife explained about me and Sam’s wife asked me to write her name that is Hannah and after she told to write Yakirah her daughters name I wrote it too. And we left from there

That was a great experience to me.
I think Jew town in Cochin is a small Jerusalem where Jews and Muslims live with love peace and harmony but unlike Jerusalem this place makes the sense of the name Jerusalem “the city of peace.” with the peaceful co-existence and tolerance among the religion.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yom Kippur with Sarah Aunty-A rare Ocassion

On the evening of 27th sep 2009( 9th tishri ) the Cochin Jews observed the day of Attonement -“Yom Kippur”, wearing white clothes and carrying their bags of books to be read in the time of Yom Kippur service and they walked through the Jew street, this evening was a rare scenery to me. Today when I went to Sarah auntie’s house there she was reciting the prayer I wished her and entered the home.
There Thaha was setting the special oil lamp known as “Talmeed” (which means “always” as told by Sarah aunty), which is lighted in this festival.

he gave me a brief explanation about the setting up of Thameed lamp this consists of a glass cup with “Kundiris” (A brass stand for the cotton thread) at bottom and half of water and then half of Coconut oil, the cotton thread which has a darga pullu (A grass variety used by Hindus for their religious rituals) inside it for reinforcement even one more out side is attached to the kundiris, where the extra grass placed is lighted first.

Sarah aunty explained many stories and traditions followed by them and she had her food and got ready for the Yom Kippur fasting and after she wore white clothes and lighted the Menorah and then the Talmeed lamp.
She took her books and went to the synagogue with the help of her maid Seli chechi. Other members of the community also gathered in the synagogue, there were the members from Ernakulum Jewish community and some foreigners.
I and Thaha went to a heritage Café to have a tea, I ordered for Masala tea which is my favorite, after having it we went back to click more pictures of the synagogue.
The synagogue was also lighted with the candle and this auspicious evening helped me to know more about the Cochin Jews and their traditions.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

133 yeas old Hebrew bible presented to me from Sarah Aunty

Once i went to Sarah aunty's house there Thaha was doing some maintenance work in guest room and from that room even me helped Thaha ,Sarah aunty was sitting in the bed an she was telling stories about her family and her husband Jacob Cohen and she took one old bag and showed me many books and from that there was an old bible it was owned by "Moses Elias Sargon" Sarah aunty dont know who is he but she asked whether i need it i was very much happy to hear it and she presented to me.

this was printed in vienna in 1877 the owner had written in hebrew that "zah hasefer shal Moses Elia Sargon" that means "this book is of (owned) moses elias sargon"
Sarah Aunty presented it to me on a very special day ie on 09-09-'09 i will not forget this day and even this book is 6 to 7 times older to me isnt'it great ?????????????

Rosh Hashannah Card to Sarah Aunty

The New year "Rosh Hashannah " was a bit sad to the Cochin Jews the warden of the community Mr.Samuel Hallegua ie Sammy uncle passed a couple of days before the day.When i went to Sarah Auntie house to present her a fresh water scaled fish ie "katla" known as jewfish in english.For her to make her favourite fish dish.and i even presented this hand made Rosh Hashannah greeting card made my self.and wished a prosperous year ahead.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Samuel Hallegua the warden of cochin Pardesi synagogue passed away.

78 years old man with a wide knowledge that was Samuel hallegua. when i met him 2 years ago he was quiet healthy and was happy to invite me o his home and had talked to me for a long time and after that i had showed my Torah to him and after that i gave him an oil painting of a menorah and shawl.and even i gave him a copy of ten commendment in hebrew handwritten by me and for a long time i didnt met him as iwas away from my hometown for my studies.recently when i came back to my home from sarah aunty i came to know about him that he is suffering from disease.
god didnt gave him a chance to see next Rosh Hashanah which is on 19th of this month.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ashkenazi,Bagdadi and An Indian(אשכנזי, באגדאדי והודי)

This is the photo of Isaac Ashakenazi, Sarah Cohen and me from the house of Sarah Cohen. Family of Mr. Isaac is a German immigrant and Sarah Cohen is from Bagdad and I myself Thoufeek Zakriya an Indian Muslim.
Today (23rd June 2009) I went to Sarah Auntie’s house and showed my torah Scroll as I promised to her and she was pretty amazed to see it and she called her neighbour Mr. Isaac Ashkenazi who came for an evening walk and a visit to Sarah Cohen’s house and He saw my handmade Torah Scroll and gave a good comment and he read it fully and here is the photo of him checking the Sefer Torah

He told that it was good and he asked me to write his name and I wrote it fore him in Hebrew and also he have ordered me one copy of Birchat habayit for him to present it to one of his friend.
And it is really a rare chance to me to click a photo with him because he always avoids photography for his privacy from all the medias but he happily gave me the chance. Actually it was all happened because of Mr.Thaha Ibrahim who is the care taker of Sarah Cohen. Yaa a Muslim who looks after an aged Jew without any profit as his own mother. Mr.Thaha told “this is what my religion Islam taught me, to love and maintain peace between all and spread it like an ocean”.
For me this is a great thing and a great example of communal harmony.
May Allah bless us all with Peace.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A visit to Sarah Cohens house,eldest Jewess in the Cochin Jewish community.

Me,Sarah Cohen and Thaha
This is a photograph took from the house of the most eldest person of the Cochin Jewish community, Sarah Cohen I visited her on 10th of this month. Thaha he is a Muslim and he is the shopkeeper and helper of Sarah Cohen’s hand embroidery shop within her home. He helps her in the stitching of Kippas and jewish hand embroidery items and he know a little of Hebrew that has been taught by Sarah Cohen and her late Husband who was an eminent personality in cochin jewish community.
When I went to her home to visit her and show my Hebrew calligraphies she was pretty amazed to see it and she told that she cant believe that a Muslim doing Hebrew calligraphy. And she liked each and every piece and I presented one to her and she was very happy to receive that and she exhibited it in her shop. She talked to me almost a three hours even though she is aged and being tired of it. Any way she was very open and happy to share her comments on it and from her I had learned many new terminologies used there in the Cochin Jewish community.
And to me it was a different experience to see her and her happiness.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Inscribed in Gold

This is an A3 sized Birchath habayit made with the help of gum and golden powder.To make this first of all write the letters in the parchment and fill the each letter with gum and then dust the powder.similarly write a line each then keep it for drying and then wipe out the excess of dust.Then continue the process, this is a work which need more patience and any one can do this after frequent experiment and practice.
I dedicate this work to all those who work for the peace between Israelites and Palstinians.Especially to Dr.Asher Eder one of my new friend from Israel and to Mr.Zeev Barkan who introduced him to me.May god fill this world with Peace.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

As simple as that............

I had made a non exclusively decorated Birchat Habayit which is very simple and and i like it most because the font used in this is favourite to me than the other styles used by myself.and copper border is given to it which gives an antique look to it.

Right now I am in the making of a large A3 sized Birchath with golden embossing letters in the same Torah scibe font used in it i will soon post the pics of.

Arabic Calligraphy- A gift of God

This is an Arabic Calligraphy done two years ago when i was concentrated in learning Arabic Calligraphy of my own and my tutor was my God,Who gave me this ability to do it and more.I praise him and bow to him for it.
This was made after looking in one photograph of an Arabic i was in its starting stage

Friday, April 24, 2009

Replica of Torah

Torah the jewish holy book has been a more valuable book to them and most of the people belonging to other religion dose'nt know any thing about it .But to the people of cochin and tourists in cochin, there was a chance to see it in paradesi synagogue but now it is no more opened to the curious visitors.But even i am a Muslim i have seen it twice and bit amazed to know that it was made of kosher (clean) animal skin.After that i tried to learn more about that and decided to make one replica of it.And sucessfully finished it.The image given below is the scroll made by me with thick handmade paper. only the ten commenments and following chapters are there.

Then i had made a minature torah with same material and its height is only 4 inches this is the image.and i had gifted it to my new friend Jono David who is a jewish photographer when he came to cochin for photographing the old synagogues.You can visit the photo library of jews around the world in his website

A comparison in the size of my two Torahs
will give you a idea about its size.

The close view to my Torah. I have tried to make it error free and hope no error is there and once i took it to Samuel hallegua the warden of the jewish community in cochin to him on that day i had gifted a
oil painting

of menorah done by me. And one hebrew ten commandment in an old paper.He gave me a good comment on it.

Then when i went to the house one Malabari jewish family in Trichur,kerala.Mr.Namiah and Ruby Namiah they were amazed to see a replica of Torah made by a Muslim.
here is the photo of Mr.Namiah with my Torah scroll.

Hope you all will like it

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hebrew inscriptions in Cochin

These are the some of the oldest hebrew inscriptions found in cochin even in other places like Mala,Parur,Chennamangalam we can find old hebrew inscriptions. The images displayed below is the marble found on the door post of Cochin Jewish Cemetery.the one is of Hebrew and other contains English and Malayalam.



This is the inscription found in Mattancherry Pardesi Synagogue. and it states about the oldest Kochangadi Synagogue.

There is another hebrew inscription in cochin which is unknown to most of the people, it is the tomb stone inscription of tomb of Namiah muthah (Nehemiah ben Abraham) it is situated in Chakkamaadom, which is near to my maternal ancestral house.

Most of the localites use to light the candle and pray there.

Another tombstone outside the recently restored synagogue in Chennamangalam
has Hebrew letters inscribed, which are clearly visible, with the words "Sara
bat Israel" (Sara, the daughter of Israel). The Hebrew date corresponds to
1269, making it the oldest Hebrew text in India.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Golden touch

The golden dust in calligraphy can make magics the completely hand designed ones are here for you.These ones are made on chart papers and the gold dust and gum is used to make the designes hope it will be a different one for you the hebrew birkat habayit.The one below is designed with a scroll and a golden Menorah with greek style pillars.

This one shown below is of same pattern with two golden Shofar,Magen David,Crown,chai("life"in hebrew),and greek style pillars.

My calligraphies

Hai readers,I am Thoufeek Zakriya from Cochin,India.I am bit interested in languages,Art calligraphy and i am crazy about History.

This blog is created by me to publish my calligraphic (in Hebrew,Arabic,aramaic,syrian etc ) works which is completely hand made ones and it will be a different experience to you................. even though i am not a professional in this i use to maintain a standard to erradicate the errors in it.

Here is a Birchat habayit ( ברכת הבית ) hebrew blessing for house recently made by me.This is a simple birkat made without more decorations and the font style used is that of Torah scribe style.

I use to make more birkats with gold dust decorated ones too will post such ones soon.
I am thanking my friend Paul Rockower, for his recommendation and suggesions inspired me to create a blog.thanks Paul.and i will posts more pictures of my creations and those who wants a copy can contact me by posting a comment.