Cochin Cultural Heritage Center

The Cochin Jewish Heritage Center in Nevatim, Israel, was set up by the Association for Culture and for Preservation of the Heritage of Cochin Jewry.

The aims of the Center are:

· To preserve and present the material and spiritual culture of the Jewish    community of Kerala,
· To serve as spiritual and cultural center for the Jews of Kerala and
· To encourage research on the community.

The idea of collecting artifacts and material was initiated by a few dedicated people from Nevatim, among them: Mr. Yitzhak Elia, who has served as the director of the center since 1995, Mr. Shalom Nehemia and Mr. Nechemia Itzhack. The center was inaugurated at the end of 1995. The founding curator of the heritage center was Ms.Tirza Muttath Lavi and the designer was Ms. Rachel Lev. Tirza Lavi has served as curator since 2006 .

In the permanent exhibition at the center, the visitor sees a panorama of the atmosphere and life of the Jews in Kerala before their immigration to Israel: daily life, celebration of Jewish holidays, especially Hag Simchat Tora which was the highlight of holidays in Kerala, and transitional rituals (wedding, circumcision, bar mitzvah etc). Most of the artifacts came from Kerala and were donated by members of Kerala Jewish families.

The Cochin Jewish Heritage Center also has a collection of photographs, some of which are exhibited in the front hall.

The Heritage Center is part of a larger innovative plan, which still awaits funding. This project intends to recreate the atmosphere of Jews Street as it used to exist in the Cochin region of Kerala State. This Jews Street replica will serve as a living museum for visitors from Israel and abroad. The street will include several buildings in the traditional Kerala architectural style. Each building will be related to a different aspect of Jewish life in Kerala. Since the landscape, townscape and climate of Nevatim are far from the environment of southwest India, lush tropical vegetation will surround the entire compound. By producing a complete environment, we hope to create a living memory of Jewish life in Kerala, which will make it possible for visitors to enjoy the cultural preservation of this heritage.

Where are Cochin Jews today?