Thursday, 2 June 2016

A hidden Hebrew etching found in the pillars of Jew street, Parur

Pillars intact...

Two columns which marks the entrance to the Jew Street of Parur, is erroneously depicted as the symbol of their cliquishness even though they were close to other communities of locale. It is even believed that the King of Travancore ordered to erect those pillars. But the historians and antiquarians were always puzzled about the origin and existence of it.

One pillar intact....

Muziris heritage project headed the renovation of the standing pillar and re-establishment of the other one which had fallen years back, A Hebrew and English etching was found which was hidden under the plaster all these days….it had nailed the issue with a final answer.

Pillar during the renovation...

The Hebrew inscription found in the still standing pillar is “ עירוב‎‎ ” and that of English is “ERUB”. The literal meanings of the Hebrew word are “mixture, blending, amalgamation or intermingling”

Hebrew inscription as seen on the pillar.

These are not just two Columns which mark the entrance or gateway of the Jew Street, but an aid to keep up their ritual and tradition. It is misnamed as “eruv/ erub”, which is named after its epithet, than the name of the object itself. It acts as a device for removal of difficulties on applying the precepts for Sabbath and other holiday rests. It creates a symbolic enclosure that allows observant Jews, to carry objects outdoors on the Sabbath. In ancient times, an eruv would combine multiple residences into a walled courtyard, but in modern times, rabbinic interpretation allows such an enclosure to be accomplished by creating symbolic wall or fence continuously around an area.

Thus, confirmed that the pillars are not just a gateway to mark the entrance but a ritual enclosure.

Such a set of pillars existed in Jew Town of Cochin too. It is even mentioned by Moses Pereira Da Pavia (1686 AD) in his report Noticias dos Judeos de Cochim “All living in one street with their Herub (Eruv) is fixed with two pillars of stone crossed by an Iron bar,” it shows that it was an old tradition among the Jews of Malabar.

I remember Gamliel Salem’s once explained to me, During Sabbath it is forbidden to carry something, such as a prayer book from one’s home along the street and to the synagogue, and food from one house to other. To the Jews of Cochin the solution was an "Eruv", the reason behind building the Jew town in such a manner where most of the buildings touch each other is to create that symbolic enclosure.... Gammy uncle remembered that there were two pillars at the entrance of the Jew Town in Mattancherry, and a string is tied covering the entire space and touches synagogue too which makes the entire town symbolically one enclosure. …..any detach in the building is solved by this eruv. He explained to me that he had seen some people touching the prayer book to the string and walk along to the synagogue and vice versa. The tradition was stopped post Aliyah, as the buildings in the Jew town were sold to non-Jews. Later the pillars demolished for some reason...

In modern world were the communities in the civilized societies are the fights for setting eruv, here in the God's own country it was built with no disputes....


  1. Why the Jews left Kerala? Were they persecuted here?

  2. Hai Countercurrents,

    Jews left Kerala to make Aliyah, by going back to their promised land. They were never persecuted in Kerala, but during Portuguese reign they had faced hardship like Muslims...

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