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‘Jews of India’ exhibit presented at Monmouth County clerk’s office

Star of David, Jewish star

The Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County has again been invited to present an exhibit for display at the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office in the Market Yard parking lot, 33 Mechanic St., Freehold Borough.

This year’s exhibit is about the Jews of India and is titled “From Malabar to Monmouth County: A Global Connection to the Jews of India,” according to a press release from the museum.

Derived from the museum’s current rotating exhibit, “Jews of India: The History and Practices of the Bene Israel, Cochin and Baghdadi Jews,” this mini-exhibit tells the story of the three main Jewish Indian groups, Bene Israel, Cochin and Baghdadi; their origins and impact on Monmouth County with family photos; a ceremonial Malida dish; and other selected artifacts, according to the press release.

The exhibit explores the connection of the Jews of India to the United States through the story of Sophie and Yochanan Perry, the original donors of the exhibit. The exhibit is on view until Aug. 31 during the clerk’s regular office hours. Admission is free. For more information, call 732-431-7324.

The full exhibit may be viewed at the Jewish Heritage Museum in Freehold Township by appointment only. For more information, call 732-252-6990 or email info@jhmomc.org

According to the press release, the history of the Jews of India is complex and shrouded in mystery. Each of the three groups, Bene Israel, Cochin and Baghdadi, has a different story of origin.

The Bene Israel has been the largest of the groups, with an oral tradition which states they are descended from seven couples who were the sole survivors of a shipwreck off the Konkan coast, south of Bombay. Their arrival could date between the eighth century BCE and the sixth century CE.

The Cochin and Baghdadi Jews arrived in India later and settled in different areas of the country, according to the press release.

This exhibit was prompted by the donation of books and artifacts by community members Yochanan and Sophie Perry. Their personal story was highlighted in the fall 2018 issue of the museum’s newsletter, “Heritage Highlights.”

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