Restored Mumbai Synagogue Celebrates 150 Years

from Mumbai Mirror:

Happy 150th to the city’s oldest synagogue

The Magen David synagogue in Byculla celebrated its 150th anniversary on Tuesday. The imposing sky-blue building is an integral part of Mumbai’s history, and indeed Jewish history in India.

A few decades ago, more than 500 Jews would gather at Magen David synagogue on Shabbat days and High Holidays.

Most Jews have now migrated to Israel, but for Solomon Sopher, chairman of the synagogue, time will never fade away the memories.

“The synagogue is massive, with a huge ground. A few decades ago, it used to be so crowded there was hardly a place to stand,” he said, “Now things have changed.” There are around 4,000 Jews living in India, most of them in Mumbai, he said. Back in 1950s, the number of Jews in the country stood at 50,000.

… On Tuesday, Israel and Indian national flags adorned the venue; and services were administered in English, Hebrew and Hindi.

David Sasoon, the leader of the Jewish community in Bombay, purchased the land in Byculla – around 10,000 sq ft – to build a prayer place for Baghdadi Jews. The synagogue was thrown open to the public in 1861 (Baghdadi Jews arrived in India around 200 years ago; Bene Israelis came here more than 2,000 years ago).

images: courtesy