Photographer's Note

Pictured here is the interior of the Beth El Synagogue located at Pollock street in Kolkata. The Synagogue was constructed in 1856 with funding from David Joseph Ezra and Ezekiel Judah, two Baghdadi Jews. In the heyday of the Jewish settlement in Kolkata, the community was 60000 strong. Jews from Iraq, Syria and other locations in the middle East had migrated to Calcutta during the British rule and flourished as traders and businessmen. Perhaps the most notable of the Jewish settlers was Sir Elias David Ezra, the son of David Joseph Ezra, who was the Sheriff of Calcutta, a director of the Reserve Bank of India and the President of the Asiatic Society. After the formation of the state of Israel, the population declined and has been nearly decimated and only around 20 Jews remain in the city.

Though services have long ceased at the Beth El Synagogue, its interiors are astonishingly well maintained. The maintenance has been carried out by the local Muslims for the last several generations and during my visit, I was escorted inside by Shiraz Khan (photo as WORKSHOP), a third generation caretaker of the Synagogue.

In the WORKSHOP section I have posted two more photographs.

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Additional Photos by Satya Ghosal (photographer_sg) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 394 W: 2 N: 994] (6059)
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