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Coordinates: 13°02′48″N 80°16′27″E / 13.0467369°N 80.2742703°E / 13.0467369; 80.2742703

Jewish Cemetery Chennai Front View
jewish cemetery chennai
Plan of Fort St George and the city of Madras in 1726,Shows b.Jews Burying Place Jewish Cemetery Chennai, Four Brothers Garden and Bartolomeo Rodrigues Tomb
Burial Record of Yitzhak Levi
Holocaust Memorial of Isaac & Rosa Henriques Decastro, Paradesi Jews of Madras

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.[1] Burials include the tombstones of 18th century Jewish diamond merchants.[2] The cemetery houses less than 30 graves, of which a few are over 300 years old.[3] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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.[5]

HistoryEdit

The cemetery was established by Jacques (Jaime) de Paivia, a Portuguese Paradesi Jew, involved in diamond trade. He was buried in the cemetery upon his death in 1687.[6][7]

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.[3][8]

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.[1] 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.[3]

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.[9][8]

Two walls of the cemetery came down during the Cyclone Nilam in 2012. The cost for repair was projected to be $2070.[10] 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.[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b S Muthiah (30 September 2002). "Will Chennai's Jews be there?". The Hindu.
  2. ^ Association of British Scholars (India), Chennai Chapter (2008). Muthiah, S. (ed.). Madras, Chennai: A 400-year Record of the First City of Modern India, Volume 1. Palaniappa Brothers. p. 183. ISBN 9788183794688.
  3. ^ a b c d Janani Sampath (10 May 2016). "Chennai's link to its Jewish past, cemetery in Mylapore fading into oblivion". DT Next.
  4. ^ "Kerala Jewish Sites". ISJM Jewish Heritage Report Volume II, numbers 3-4. International Survey of Jewish Monuments. December 1998. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b Roshne B (14 November 2016). "A cemetery buried in history". The New Indian Express.
  6. ^ Muthiah S. (3 September 2007). "The Portuguese Jews of Madras". The Hindu.
  7. ^ "The Portuguese Jewish Community Of Madras, India, In The Seventeenth Century". Sefarad.org. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  8. ^ a b Krithika Sundaram (31 October 2012). "18th century Jewish cemetery lies in shambles, craves for attention". The New Indian Express.
  9. ^ Muthiah S (2011). A Madras Miscellany. Westland. ISBN 9789380032849.
  10. ^ "CHENNAI". International Jewish Cemetery Project. International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Retrieved 17 June 2017.