KOCHI: The front portion of Kadavumbagam Synagogue, also known as the Black Jew Synagogue, at Mattanchery, collapsed on Tuesday morning owing to heavy rainfall. The synagogue, believed to be around 400 years old, belonged to the Malabari Jews and is of great historical importance. The residents of Mattanchery allege the synagogue was not maintained properly, causing it to collapse.
According to Ravishankar K V, a member of Tourism Advisory Board, the property belonged to Ragina Tharian. “In 2016, the Archaeology Department, Government of Kerala, decided to give it a Protected Monument status. In 2017, the Archaeology Department decided to take over the property and in June 2018, the state approved the takeover,” says Ravishankar. Following the move, the Archaeology Department transferred around `92 lakh to Ernakulam District Collector for the final possession.
But, after the government declared it as a protected monument, no maintenance work was undertaken. “The Archaeology Department tried to take over the building through the Revenue Department. This resulted in the delay and no restoration or maintenance work was done,” says Ravishankar. The plan was to restore the synagogue or convert it into a Jew museum.
“Had the Archaeology Department taken over it directly, the restoration work would have been over a long time back. The other synagogues in the state are under the control of the Tourism Department under Muziris Heritage project, that’s why the restoration works were done on time,” says Ravishankar.The valuable relics inside the synagogue were taken to Israel when the Malabari Jews migrated in the early 1970s. They had started Cochin Cultural Centre in Israel and the relics are showcased there. “Cochin Cultural Centre is a very active in Israel,” adds Ravishankar.
Soon after the Jews migrated, the synagogue was bought by non-Jewish people and it was even used a godown for coir and spices.“In June, a public hearing was conducted by Ernakulam District Revenue Authority and a report was submitted to the District Collector. After that, an expert appraisal committee was formed, which consist of Revenue and Archaeology departments. Unfortunately, the recent flood caused the delay in completing the takeover. We expect it to get over by September end and the District Collector could hand over the possession to Archaeology director,” says Ravishankar.
The valuable relics inside the synagogue were taken to Israel when the Malabari Jews migrated in the early 1970s. They had started the Cochin Cultural Centre in Israel which is very active.