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(formerly name was Madras), located in Tamil Nadu Province.

 

On October 31, 2012 Cyclone Nilam hit Chennai. Two walls of our cemetery of 100 ft length (approx) collapsed. The cost to repair them is about $2,070, to be shared with the Bahai community. Donations can be sent to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . A new gate was paid for by the small Israeli community in Chennai in 2012 and facilitated by Mr. Joshua. Source: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it [January 2013]


Jewish history of Madras: "... won't find a synagogue in Madras, but he'll find Jewish cemetery in a corner of the larger cemetery off Lloyd's Road ... find the key that's with perhaps the last Jewish family, expats not counted, in Madras. That cemetery is the last memorial to what was once a significant Jewish presence in this city. / A Jewish settlement first established itself in Madras to export the diamonds of Golconda to London and import in exchange from their fellow Jews silver, rough and polished coral and pearls. They lived in what is still called Coral Merchants' Street in northeast George Town. By the late 18th Century, the trade had died out with the Golconda vein spent and the last Jewish merchant to live in the city, Moses de Castro, departing in 1786. In a 19th Century coincidence, another community associated with gems and jewellery moved into the street and to this day, the Nattukottai Chettiars' town choultry is here. / The Jews of Madras had a synagogue and their cemetery next to it near the northern end of Mint Street. When a school was built here in 1983, the tombstones were moved to the `Jewish corner' in the Lloyd's Road cemetery. The tombstone of Jaques (James) de Paiva, the first of the Jewish diamond merchants, was one of the four in the Mint Street cemetery at the time of transfer. It, however, does not seem to have made it to Lloyd's Road. The tombstones that did were of Solomon Franco (1763) and Issac Sard (1709), both diamond merchants. The third survivor was the tombstone of Esther Cohen (1964), perhaps the last burial at the old site. The only burial in the new site has been of Eileen Joshua in 1997. /Judging from their names, those Jewish diamond merchants who lived and traded in Madras were of Spanish and Portuguese origin. They were Sephardic Jews whose forefathers had probably fled to England and Holland during the Inquisition. That was the time the White Jews of Kerala too had first arrived in Cochin." [January 2010]

Mint Street Burial Ground: [original name] Plots were relocated to Kasimode and then to Lloyds Road cemetery in 1983. Directions: Down Mount Road (renamed Anna Salai; still known by Mount Rd.), the highway crosses the city in a SW direction from Ft. St. George in north. Pass St. Thomas' Mount to the airport & city limits in South. Head E to Bay of Bengal. The 18th century overgrown cemetery has a rusty iron gate in the walled enclosure. Three of the oldest tombstones are Abendo Sardo, d. 1707, Abraham Salomns d. 1745, and Salomon Franco d. 1763, all Portuguese Jews. The most recent headstone is 1964. (possibly only 9 stones) Source: Shemot June 1995, vol 3 no. 2; article by Sally Solomon, member of JGS Great Britain.

The Madras Cemetery (Lloyd's Road): This cemetery is on Lloyd's Road, a poor market area of the road west of the Marina Fish Market, and contains stones moved from the old Mint Street Cemetery (Isaac Abendana Sardo, Madras Hebrew Merchant, d. 10 May 1709; Abraham Salomons, beloved merchant etc., d. V June, MDCCXLV; Salomon Franco, Merchant from Leghorn, d. 26 Yiar A.M 5523º). It is adjacent to the Chinese cemetery and both cemeteries have clusters of vendors and squatters with vegetables displayed on the road itself at the entrances. Esther Cohen was buried here in l964 and Isaac Joshua's wife Miriam in l998./ The wall of the cemetery is in need of repair and construction: some deteriorating base areas need to be reconstructed and the intrusion of a tree growing into a section of the wall needs to be dealt with; the wall itself needs to be raised to match the height of the Chinese cemetery wall in order to prevent intruders from climbing over. The gate of the cemetery is rusted and insubstantial and needs to be replaced with something more dignified. Guarded in the past with the help of Walter Wolff (deceased) and Sally Solomon, now of London, England, the cemetery is in the trusteeship of Isaac Joshua, resident of Madras, member of the Thekkumbagham synagogue and president of the Association of Kerala Jews. Source [January 2010]

UPDATE: The local caretakers' names and numbers are Kumari: +91-9710015250 and her son, Selvam: +91-9551991238. People wishing to visit MUST get a Tamil speaker to call them as they do not speak English. They are paid by the local Jews and visitors' contributions. [February 2011]

Photos and story. "There is a Jewish cemetery in Chennai, though as noted above it has a sad history. It was originally located near the beach, and about 40 years ago, the land was needed for other purposes and the cemetery was about to be razed. At that time, there were a number of other Indian Jews living in Madras, though all of them but Rochelle have since moved to Israel, died, or gone to other cities. This group met and tried to decide what to do. They were successful in persuading the government not to destroy, but remove, the graves to another spot. However, the new location is poorly tended and it is a constant struggle to maintain."  [January 2010]

UPDATE: I have visited the cemetery since Yom Kippur 2008.The area is densely populated; and people will gather round the vehicle. It's best to have someone write out in advance "Jewish Cemetery" in Tamil and English, which may cut down on the crowd. Someone went to find the caretaker. She opened the gate. A tip will be appreciated. Source: Rocky Peltzman This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . [January 2010] The woman caretaker and her son, Selwan, have cellphones. A Tamil speaker is necessary to communicate w/them: +91-971-001-5250 and 955-199-1238. [May 2011]

UPDATE: "The Jewish cemetery, located off Lloyd's Road, is the last memorial to what was once a significant Jewish presence in this city. A Jewish settlement first established itself in Chennai (Madras) to export the diamonds of Golconda to London. They lived in what is still called Coral Merchants' Street in northeast George Town. ... and import in exchange from their fellow Jews' silver, rough and polished coral and pearls. They lived in what is still called Coral Merchants' Street in northeast George Town. By the late 18th Century, the trade had died out with the Golconda vein spent and the last Jewish merchant to live in the city, Moses de Castro, departing in 1786. In a 19th century coincidence, another community associated with gems and jewellery moved into the street and to this day, the Nattukottai Chettiars' town choultry is here. The Jews of Madras had a synagogue and their cemetery next to it near the northern end of Mint Street. When a school was built here in 1983, the tombstones were moved to the `Jewish corner' in the Lloyd's Road cemetery. The tombstone of Jaques (James) de Paiva, the first of the Jewish diamond merchants, was one of the four in the Mint Street cemetery at the time of transfer. It, however, does not seem to have made it to Lloyd's Road. The tombstones that did were of Solomon Franco (1763) and Issac Sard (1709), both diamond merchants. The third survivor was the tombstone of Esther Cohen (1964), perhaps the last burial at the old site. The only burial in the new site has been of Eileen Joshua in 1997. Judging from their names, those Jewish diamond merchants who lived and traded in Madras were of Spanish and Portuguese origin. They were Sephardic Jews whose forefathers had probably fled to Holland during the Inquisition. That was the time the White Jews of Kerala too had first arrived in Cochin. If Armstrong plays in Cochin, he'd find a synagogue but not too many worshippers to attend his performance. In Madras, I hope, he'll get to meet the few Indian Jews who still call it home. He might even get that key from one of them." Source [July 2008]

Source:  "This cemetery is on Lloyd's Road, a poor market area of the road west of the Marina Fish Market, and contains stones moved from the old Mint Street Cemetery (Isaac Abendana Sardo, Madras Hebrew Merchant, d. 10 May 1709; Abraham Salomons, beloved merchant etc., d. V June, MDCCXLV; Salomon Franco, Merchant from Leghorn, d. 26 Yiar A.M 5523º). It is adjacent to the Chinese cemetery and both cemeteries have clusters of vendors and squatters with vegetables displayed on the road itself at the entrances. Esther Cohen was buried here in l964 and Isaac Joshua's wife Miriam in l998. The wall of the cemetery is in need of repair and construction: some deteriorating base areas need to be reconstructed and the intrusion of a tree growing into a section of the wall needs to be dealt with; the wall itself needs to be raised to match the height of the Chinese cemetery wall in order to prevent intruders from climbing over. The gate of the cemetery is rusted and insubstantial and needs to be replaced with something more dignified. Guarded in the past with the help of Walter Wolff (deceased) and Sally Solomon, now of London, England, the cemetery is in the trusteeship of Isaac Joshua, resident of Chennai member of the Thekkumbagham synagogue and president of the Association of Kerala Jews." [October 2000]

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Last Updated on Sunday, 06 January 2013 14:51
 
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