Modi-Netanyahu meet: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Israel visit is a landmark one that both India and Israel have been at pains to highlight. Keeping the significant nature of the trip in mind, the gifts exchanged also acquire manifold importance. PM Modi has gifted replicas of two sets of Jewish relics from Kerala to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on their first-ever meet on Tuesday, PTI reported. The Prime Minister’s Office called the relics “key artefacts in the long Jewish history in India” in a tweet. Explaining the intricacies of the gift, PMO tweeted, “They comprise two different sets of copper plates that are believed to have been inscribed in 9-10th century C.E. The first set of copper plates is a cherished relic for the Cochini Jews in India. It is regarded as a charter describing the grant of hereditary royal privileges and prerogatives By the Hindu King, Cheraman Perumal (often identified as Bhaskara Ravi Varma) to the Jewish leader Joseph Rabban. According to traditional Jewish accounts, Joseph Rabban was later crowned as the Prince of Shingli, a place in or equated with Cranganore.”
“Cranganore is where Jews enjoyed religious and cultural autonomy for centuries before they moved to Cochin and other places in Malabar. Local Jews once placed in each coffin a handful of earth from Shingli/Cranganore that was remembered as a holy place & a ‘second Jerusalem’,” it added. The replica of these plates has been made by the Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry, Kochi. Describing the second set of copper plates the PMO said that it was the earliest documented history of Jewish trade within India.
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PMO tweeted, “These plates describe the grant of land and tax privileges by the local Hindu ruler to a church and oversight of trade in Kollam to West Asian and Indian trading associations. West Asian association included Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, as also a group of Jews who signed in Judeo-Persian and possibly also in Arabic and Pahlavi (Middle Persian). The plates bear their signatures that appear to have been cut into the plates by a local workman unfamiliar with the script.” Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Thiruvalla, Kerala has been attributed to this piece of rare artefact.
Apart from these two relics, PM Modi also gave PM Netanyahu a Torah scroll which was donated by the Paradesi Jewish community in Kerala, according to the PMO. “Handwritten over a hundred years ago, the scroll had been dedicated to the Paradesi Synagogue in Kochi that had been built in 1568. The Torah is enclosed on wooden staves in a wooden case adorned with silver sheets. And a metal crown covered in gold sheets in floral ornament style, bearing motifs typical of lamps and decorations of south India,” the office said.