Prince Charles, Camilla visit Jewish Synagogue

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Kochi, Nov 14: Prince Charles, who turned 65 on Thursday, paid a visit to the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth -- the Pardeshi Synagogue at nearby Mattancherry -- along with his wife Camilla Parker Bowles.

The traditional Jewish prayer of blessing for the Royal family was held after which Queene Hallegua, warden of the Synagogue, wished him on his birthday.

The couple, who arrived at the bustling centre for spice trade Mattancherry, from Kumarakom, were shown the ancient scrolls of the Old Testament, the ancient copper plates that recorded the grants of privilege left by Kochi rulers and the golden crown gifted by the Kochi ruler.

The synagogue is noted for its mid-18th century handpainted 1100 Chinese floor tiles, all of them different from each other and 247 years old and the Belgian chandeliers.

There are also numerous finely wrought gold and silver crowns that were gifted by the patrons of the time.

The royal couple were gifted with a 1997 photograph of Queen Elizabeth.

The royal couple, who spent nearly half an hour at the synagogue, were gifted with a photograph of Queen Elizabeth when she visited the synagogue in 1997, photos of the Chinese tiles and copper plates and brochures.

The dwindling Jewish community members of Mattancherry currently has five families with seven members with the oldest Sara Kochin, who is over 90 years, and the youngest Yael Hallegua in her forties.

The Jewish festivals starts in September and the synagogue got a rabi from Israel, Queene Hallegua said. As per the 'Minan' custom of the Jewish community, they need 10 men, over the age of 30, to conduct the service.

Since the past seven years, the service has not been held due to lack of quorum.

Jewish community members from Aluva, Parur, Ernakulam, and Kochi were also present to greet the royal visitors along with Kocha Varma of the Tripunithura royal family and his wife.

Keshava Rama Varma of the erstwhile Cochin Royal family had donated the land for the construction of the synagogue, Varma said.

PTI

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