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Kochi hosts Kerala’s first Jewish wedding after 15 years

Screengrab from the video showing a Jewish wedding held in Kerala after 15 years in Kochi

Weddings in any city or village is a normal affair but one ceremony held in Kochi this Sunday caught the attention of not only people but also the media. It was a Jewish wedding which took place in Kochi after 15 years which saw Richard Zachary Rowe, a scientist in National Aeronautics and Space Administration tying knot with Racheal Benoy Malakhai.

It was in 2008 that the last Jewish wedding in Kerala was held at Mattancherry’s Thekkumbhagam Synagogue.

Interestingly the ceremony was held outside a synagogue in a private resort presided over by Rabbi Ariel Tyson, who came all the way from Israel. He solemnised the wedding under a canopy called chuppah or huppah.

The reason being as there was a large gathering which included members of the community, a synagogue couldn’t have accommodated them. In Kerala, synagogues are designated as protected heritage sites.

Malakhi, is a US-based data scientist who has her roots in Thiruvananthapuram while Rowe is an American. She is the daughter of Superintendent of Police (Crime branch) Benoy Malakhi while her mother is Manjusha Miriam Emmaneul, a clinical psychologist.

Rabbi Tyson told the media that weddings among Jews are based on the rules prescribed in the Hebrew Bible, the Torah. Proceeding accordingly, the Rabbi read out the standard marriage contract or ‘ketubah’, following which the couple exchanged rings.

After their wedding, the groom as per the tradition stomped on the glass to break it. This ritual is special as it is supposed to temper the joyous wedding mood and make the couple and the people gathered to pause and recall one of the tragic incidents in Jewish history – the destruction of temples.

While Rowe wore a traditional prayer shawl which is called ‘tallit’, the bride exhibiting her Indian traditions, was draped in a sari. At the end of the ceremony the couple and relatives danced to Hebrew songs and there was food prepared as per Jewish religious laws for people to savour.

Jews have a long association with India as the first ones reached Kerala 2,000 years ago during the reign of King Solomon. The community kept coming in batches and settling in different parts of the country, including Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai.

With the creation of Israel, a large number of Jews migrated with now a very few left in the country.