Jewish Cemetery Chennai
The Jewish Cemetery is located off Lloyd's Road in Chennai, India. The cemetery remains the only memoir of the once significant Jewish population of Chennai, which has now almost become extinct. Burials include the tombstones of 18th century Jewish diamond merchants. The cemetery houses less than 30 graves, of which a few are over 300 years old. The cemetery is located on a poor market area of the road west of the Marina Fish Market, and is adjacent to Chinese and Bahai cemeteries. The cemetery formerly used to have an iron gate on which a plaque was attached on which a Star of David and the words "Jewish Cemetery" were inscribed. After the renovation around 2016, these doors were replaced with sturdier ones. Before the renovation, the cemetery had been reported to be in a state of severe disrepair – with rusted iron gates, partially grown shrubs and cracked walls. People in the surrounding area were oblivious to the existence and historical importance of the cemetery. Even now, it tends to have few visitors.
The cemetery was originally located along with a synagogue at the northern end of Mint Street, in Peddanaickenpet. To make space for the construction of a municipal school by the state government, it was shifted to Kasimedu. It was further shifted in 1983 due to the Madras harbour expansion project to its present location, on the land allotted by the Port Trust.
The original cemetery had four tombstones, three of which were shifted to the current location. The tombstone of Jacques de Paivia was supposedly destroyed; for it is not found at Lloyd's Road cemetery. According to another source, however, there were 75 tombstones in the original cemetery at Mint Street, but when shifted out the second time in 1983, only 28 remained.
The last burial in the cemetery was in 1997, of Eileen Joshua – wife of Isaac Joshua, president of the Madras Jewish Association. Since then, the cemetery has been under the care of the Joshua family.
Two walls of the cemetery came down during the Cyclone Nilam in 2012. The cost for repair was projected to be $2070. As of 2016, the cemetery had recently undergone renovation, and the walls were re-erected. The walls were painted blue and raised to avoid trespassers and dog menace.
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