Cochin Jews are descendants of the ancient Jewish community that once resided in the South Indian state known as the Kingdom of Cochin (the present day port city of Kochi). Once a thriving community, Cochin Jews were treated well by their neighbors and by rulers such as the Maharajas of Cochin. Over a period of several centuries, the influx of Jews from other nations splintered the Cochin Jewish community and caused many to emigrate, principally to Israel.
Kenneth X. Robbins will discuss the Jews of Cochin and South India from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11
, in the Library’s Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored jointly by the Library’s Asian Division, Asian Division Friends Society, B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, Embassy of India, Friends of Indian Arts, LCPA Hebrew Language Table and the University of Maryland’s Office of International Programs, the program is free and open to the public. However, seating is limited. Online registration is required by Friday, Oct. 5 at www.lcasianfriends.org/event/JewsofCochin
Robbins will be introduced by Ambassador Raminder Singh Jassal, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of India. Also participating in the program will be Smita Tewari Jassal, a specialist in gender and development at Columbia and American universities.
Complementing Robbins’s lecture will be a slide show produced by Helen Sirkin titled “Simchat Torah 1965 in the Paradesi Synagogue” and a film about the Jews of Colchin. Robbins has also organized an exhibit on the Jews of South India, which will be on view from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 11 in the Asian Reading Room, located in Room 150 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.
Robbins, who is currently editing a book on the Jews of India, has published more than 50 articles dealing with Indian history, art, religion, numismatics, philately and medicine. He has served as curator of 10 exhibitions on these themes.
The Library of Congress is a central repository for all types of Asian publications that are not broadly available at other locations in the United States. Initiated in 1869 with a gift of 10 works in 934 volumes offered to the United States by the Emperor of China, the Library’s Asian collection of more than 2 million items is the largest and most comprehensive outside of Asia.