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Friday, July 8, 2011
JEWS IN KERALA: Forum claims existence of Jew Street in Kozhikode
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R. MADHAVAN NAIR / The Hindu / KOZHIKODE, July 8, 2011.
A view of the Jews Street in Kozhikode - Special Arrangement.
Is there a Jew Street in Kozhikode? Yes, says a team of the Calicut Heritage Forum, engaged in studying history of the region. The team has claimed to have found evidence pointing to existence of a Jew Street.
Presence of Chinese and Arabs in Kozhikode centuries ago is known. But not much is known about Jews, leave alone the existence of a Jew Street. Acting on a tip-off from Toufeek Zakariya, a Kochi-based history enthusiast, about the existence of a Jew Street, the forum launched a search.
After nearly one week, the team got information that there does indeed exist a small locality called Jootha Bazar (Jootha is Malayalam for Jew) in the heart of the Thekkepuram region between Kuttichira and Idiyangara.
There indeed are some indications in some records about the presence of Jews. When the Geniza papers were deciphered, it became known that a Jewish trader, Abraham Yiju, had once purchased spices from Panthalayini-Kollam (Fandaraina) around 1120 AD.
Almost 200 years later, Franciscan Friar Odoric of Pordenone visited Panthalayini and commented about the Jews there and their conflict with the Christians.