Sarah, thaha kochi thoufeek

And Thaha is also helping Klara Trencsenyi, a Hungarian director who is doing a documentary for the European Union about the Jews of Kerala.

Published: 12th December 2018 01:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th December 2018 02:00 AM   |  A+A-

(From left) Sarath Koottikkal, Sarah Cohen, Thoufeek Zakriya and Thaha Ibrahim

Express News Service

KOCHI: “We are thankful to Thaha [Ibrahim] for taking care of Sarah [Cohen] aunty, the oldest member of our community,” said Dr David Hallegua. A Los Angeles-based Jew, with roots in Fort Kochi, he had come to attend the 450th-anniversary celebrations of the Mattanchery Paradesi Synagogue. In fact, during a function, on December 7, by the local people, to honour the Jews who had come from abroad, Thaha was also recognised for his services to the Jewish community. 

Decades ago, Thaha found a place in the hearts of Jacob and Sarah Cohen and the Jewish community as a whole. The school dropout used to sell souvenir postcards to tourists more than 25 years ago. One day, Thaha had no cards to sell as the place where he had stacked them had been locked by its owner. Seeing this, Jacob allowed Thaha to store the cards at his place. That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship which later developed into a familial tie.

“It was Jacob uncle’s wish that I look after Sarah aunty after his death as they didn’t have any children. Now it’s been 12 years that my wife and I have been taking care of her,” says Thaha.
Sarah’s Hand Embroidery is a tiny souvenir shop in the alleyway to the synagogue in Jew Town, Mattanchery. She lives next door. And Thaha helps her to sells the works.
A self-taught photographer, Thaha also chronicles Jewish life in Mattanchery and makes arrangements for the conduct of religious observances like the Shabbat and other festivals, as the community has just five members now.

“Thaha is like a son to Sarah aunty,” says Thoufeek Zakriya, a Dubai-based chef, whose Hebrew calligraphic skills and knowledge of the religion, brought him close to Sarah in 2009. “To me, she is like my grandmother,” says Thoufeek.

The close relationship that Thaha and Thoufeek share with Sarah helped them to develop a deep knowledge and interest in Jewish culture and customs. They have conducted an exhibition titled ‘The Jews of Malabar’, which tells the history of the Jews in Kerala. 

Their unique relationship is also portrayed in a documentary called ‘Sarah, Thaha, Thoufeek’, which has been directed by documentary film-maker Sarath Koottikkal, who followed the trio for a few years. “Theirs is a true friendship,” says Sarath. “I know them from 2009 onwards and decided to make a documentary about them.” 

Currently, Thaha and Thoufeeq are doing research about the Jews in Chennai. And Thaha is also helping Klara Trencsenyi, a Hungarian director who is doing a documentary for the European Union about the Jews of Kerala.

India Matters


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