THE ARAMAIC PROJECT
Music of Kerala Jews
We decided to add this section to the Aramaic Project because Jews and Christians in Kerala have a shared history. Both communities share stories of immigration and practicing a foreign-born faith in a multi-religious and cultural milieu. Jews and Christian communities flourished in Kerala and enjoyed upper-caste status with several social privileges. We do not read of religious persecutions. Both communities engaged in respectful interactions with the local society and made valuable contributions.
The focus of this section is both sacred and secular song traditions of Kerala in Hebrew and Malayalam. These recordings can be primary materials for future researchers on Jewish and Christian histories in India. P. M. Jussey, a cochin Jew, has bequeathed a valuable article on the similarities of marriage customs and practices of the Cochin Jews and the Knanaya Christians of Kerala. Jussey based his study on the Malayalam song repertories of both communities. The number of Jews in Kerala has been steadily declining since 1947 due to immigration to Israel. The field recording that Barbara Johnson published in 2004 shows at least one example of a melody familiar to both the Cochin Jews and the Syro Malabar Catholics (see Palackal 2022). Our goal is to gather as many audio and video samples from different sources and make them available for future researchers.
- Barbara C. Johnson. 2004. Oh, Lovely Parrot! Jewish Women’s Songs from Kerala. Jerusalem: Audio CD and book. The Jewish Music Research Centre, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Jewish Women's Songs from Kerala - Book and Audio CD (thecmsindia.org)
- Joseph J. Palackal. 2022. Aramaic Project-279 Part III. “Religious Ecumenism and Thoma Marggam. https://youtu.be/wLLozsq4pIo (6:05-7:00).
- Joseph J. Palackal. 2000. “Jewish Music” in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South Asia. The Indian Subcontinent. Alison Arnold, editor. New York and London: The Garland Publishing, pp. 948-949.
- Joseph J. Palackal. 1995. Field notes on the first meeting with Sarah and Jacob Cohen. RR-484 Joseph Palackals's Field note on his first meeting with Jacob and Sarah Cohen at his home at Jew Town Mattanchery (thecmsindia.org)
- P. M .Jussey n. d. The wedding Songs of the Cochin Jews and of the Knanite Christians of Kerala (thecmsindia.org).