Paradesi Jews

Paradesi Jews

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Paradesi Jews

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Paradesi Jews (Malayalam: പരദേശി യെഹൂദന്‍, Paradēśi Yehūdan) are a community of Indian Jews located in Kerala, a coastal southern state. They were followers of Halakhic Judaism and are known in Kerala as Juda Mappilas.


Paradesi Jews, who became a major component of the Cochin Jewish population, originally came mainly from the Middle East and Europe, including the present day Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. They are sometimes referred to as White Jews, although that usage is generally considered pejorative or discriminatory and refers to relatively recent Jewish immigrants (15<font size=-1><sup>th</sup></font> Century onward), predominantly Sephardim and Mizrahim.

The Paradesi were endogamous to their own group during their settlement in Kerala, similar to the Knanaya people. Many those who left and married the local population established the Nasarani community. This tradition began to break in the late 1940s.

The primary original language of the Paradesim was Ladino, which contributed a number of loanwords to Judeo-Malayalam, the pre-existing Jewish language of the Kerala Jewish community.

The last female Paradesi Jew of child-bearing age, Yaheh Hallegua, is the ticket-seller at the Paradesi Synagogue.

Persecution by Portuguese

They were persecuted by the Portuguese in their attempt to convert them to Catholicism. Many were forced to practice their faith...
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