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August 23, 1963 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-08-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Friday, August 23, 1963 -- THE DETROIT JEWIS H NEWS — 1 0

Cochin Jews-Their Fight for Equality

Gas Co. Distributes 'Michigan on. the Move'

A resurgence of business op- inside Michigan and over the
the private practice of law and on the bench." One man, Mr. portunity in Michigan is the rest of the nation.
Ralph T. McElvenny, presi-
(Copyright, 1963,
numbered Jews and non-Jews Hallegua, came up saying "Wait subject of a handsome new
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
among his clients. He ran into till after the service is over. In b r o c h u r e Michigan Consoli- dent of Michigan Consolidated,
At a Friday night service in
the meantime let the children dated Gas Company plans to said it is aimed at interesting
the south of India, at Cochin's snags; for, when he spoke his sit on my lap. Just have pa- send to business and industrial companies in expanding or lo-
mind as he saw fit, he ran
famed Paradesi Synagogue, my counter to the British then ruling tience." Patience, indeed! A. B. leaders across the country. The cating plants or offices in
gaze was drawn to a small, frail, India. The Jewish Community, took his children and sat them company will distribute 20,000 Michigan. Color photographs
illustrating Michigan's major
brown - skinned, white •- bearded
down—not on the floor—but on of the 20 page four-color maga-
man, on a bench nearby. I was too, was fearful of his outspoken the steps leading to that most zine sized brochures, entitled economic advantages are com-
stand, which could be considered
"Michigan On The Move." The bined with a "progress report"
told he was A. B. Salem.
anti-British or anti-government. sacred spot in the synagogue, brochure is being sent to a list outlining the current upward
The mere fact that he and
But there was another mat- the "Tebeh," the Ark containing of key industrial leaders both trend of Michigan's economy.
other "colored" Jews present in
the Torah. And no one dared
the Paradesi Synagogue were sit- ter in which A. B. Salem did remove them.
not see eye to eye with the
ting on the benches participating
leading Jews of Cochin. Ever
Some of his own community
as equals with the white Jews since his childhood he had at-
pleaded with him to put an end
took on a deep significance.
Located at 2625 TYLER car.- Linwood
Could it be that this frail look- tended services at the Para- to the fight. A. B. asked Elias
desi Synagogue. According to Japhet, a Meshuarar who was
Announces to The Jewish Community
ing, 80-year-old man was the
the prevailing custom, he and
of the Dexter and Linwood Area That
doughty warrior. who had led the other Meshuararim always sat respected by all because of his
age, to join openly in the strug-
fight years ago to break the age-
HIGH
HOLIDAY SERVICES
on
the
floor,
the
only
place
gle against second-class citizen-
old • tradition which had permit-
allotted
to
them,
and
never
Will
Be Held at The Shul.
ship,
but
the
latter
had
not
the
ted the Meshuararim, the colored
received the privilege of an courage, and refused.
We have engaged well known Bal Tfilim to chant the liturgy.
Jews of Cochin, to pray together
You can obtain your tickets at the Shul:
"aliyah" being called up to
Yom Kippur came, Salem
with the white Jews—but only
Daily 5 p.m. 'til 8:30 p.m.
the reading of the Torah. This would not go to the synagogue.
if they sat on the floor?
Sundays 8 a.m. 'HI 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 'til 8:30 p.m.
was the rule and this was ac- He remained home, placed a
In setting up barriers be-
First Come First Serve . . .
cepted by white and black desk near the window fronting
tween people based on color
Donation, per seat, $7.50 and $5.00
Jews.
The
Meshuararim
and
on
Jewtown
Road,
had
a
lamp
Oscar Garrison_ Secretary
of skin, the Jews of Cochin
other black Jews were poor, lit, and there he prepared to •=1•11 ■ 1.,
were merely copying the cus-
economically
dependent
upon
pray by himself. As the other
tom of the people in whose
the white Jews. They might Meshuararim came by his win-
midst they lived. In India,
accept this mark of inequality, dow on their way to the Para-
caste depended in large meas-
of slavery, in silence. But not desi Synagogue, he called aloud,
ure upon color. As a result,
A. B. He thought, "Avadim "I'm not going to pray together
caste distinctions based on
hayinu b'Mitzraim; We were with slaves, with those willing
color had arisen among the
slaves in Egypt. Here I am a to accept servitude. I'm a free
Jews there, too.
free man. No more slavery man. I'll take my stand here."
Salem belonged to that group
And there he remained at prayer
of Cochin's colored Jews known for me."
He . entered petitions, he made the entire day of Yom Kippur
as. Meshuararim, or the emanci-
pated ones. Slavery had once speeches on behalf of the rights in a demonstration against the
Register your child now for a program based on
been practiced in Cochin, and of the emancipated Jews or acceptance of servility.
Soon it was the eighth day of
the white Jews also had their Meshuararim, of their right to
creativity and individual growth -
quota of slaves. When these sit on the benches of the syna- Sukkoth — Shemini Azereth —
gogues
as
did
all
other
Jews.
and
again
A.
B.
came
with
his
slaves, brown in color, were
sons to the synagogue. This was
AGES 3-5
emancipated, they and their de- But to no avail.
Finally in 1932 he decided to be a special service, for on
scendants were acknowledged as
that,
if
words
were
not
sufficient,
Mornings or
this day Mr. Hallegua's grandson
Per Seven Week
Jews, but were not fully accept-
Session
ed in the Jewish community. he would have to take action. was to become Bar Mitzvah and
Afternoons
They were not permitted to At the next service he brought, Mr. Hallegua was anxious that
marry into the families of the as usual, his two young sons nothing should interfere with the
white Jews. They were admitted with him to the synagogue. •But joyous family occasion. He sug-
CALL LI 6 6662 FOR DETAILED INFORMATION
to the prayer service in the this time he sat them down— gested a compromise—let A. B.
Paradesi Synagogue, the syna- not on the floor—bu•on a bench! and the children take seats on
gogue of the white Jews, but The fight was on. Some one the steps leading to the upper
were restricted to sitting on the came to remove the intruders, gallery. In the Paradesi Syna-
floor, whereas the white Jews to put them in their "proper" gogue, the Torah is brought to
place—on the floor.
this upper gallery where the
sat on the • benches.
But A. B. kept his 'sons from reading takes place.
A few minutes' talk with Avra-
Salem refused: "We'll have to
ham Baruch Salem at the close moving saying, "The children are
of the service made me realize under my orders. They remain get up and down again as each
FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR 1963-64
man passes us on the narrow
that here was a man of rich per-
sonality, of keen intelligence— Dr. Cohon's Sermons steps on his way to the upper
and still a fighter for what he Replete With Many gallery for his aliyah, for .the
reading of the Torah; and again
considered just and right.
up and down as each man re-
We walked along Jewtown Personal Events
Center of Oak-Woods Religious School
Road from. his own home to his
Allowing "bits of personal ex- turns to his place on the main
son's home in the Dutch Portu- perience to remain in the pub- floor below. We'll have to rise
24061 Coolidge Highway, Oak Park
guese style so typical of many lished text," Dr. Beryl D. Cohon up and down 14 times. No. we
of the Jewish houses in Cochin. of Brookline, Mass., follows a won't do it." Again Mr. Hallegua
Sunday and Mid-week classes for Boys and Girls.
We talked until I had pieced precedent he pursued in two pleaded, "Don't struggle now.
together the story of this cou- earlier volumes to dominate in Don't spoil my grandson's Bar
Kindergarten through Graduation (ages 5-12)
rageous son of Israel. _ .
his collection of sermons which Mitzvah. Tonight is Simchat To-
Postgraduate
course (youth leadership; ages 13-16)
He was born into a Cochin Bloch has just published under rah. I promise you it will be
family: His father was a book- the title "My King and My settled tonight."
• COMPLETE RELIGIOUS PROGRAM
Now the unexpected happened
binder, an occupation common God."
Salem
found
allies
in
fighting
HEBREW LANGUAGE COURSES

to many of the Meshuararim
The book's title is based on
here. But not young A.B.—every- the second sermon under that the good fight. All over the
• YOUTH ACTIVITIES
body speaks of him as A.B. Edu- name in which the Brookline world, young people, as yet un-
Rabbi Nissim H. Hayward, Principal
cated at a Protestant mission rabbi pays tribute to "the con- touchced by life's mundane
school and then at the Santa templative life of faith, and the necessities and compromises, re-
Open to Members and Non-Members
Cruz secondary school, to both quiet libraries," thereby ap- spond to injustices by fighting
of which he had scholarships, he pealing for emphasis on learn- to right the wrongs. So it hap-
pened in Cochin. The young
Telephone: LI 6-6662 or LI 6-5560
became the first "colored" Jew ing and knowledge.
Dr. Cohon emphasizes that Jews of the Paradesi Synagogue
of Cochin ever to matriculate
for a college degree. He studied "words spoken from the pul- were rebels, too. They told their
at Ernakulum University and pit should be more than im- elders, "If you don't settle this
then at Madras Government Col- personal, didactic moralizing; matter before tonight, we won't
lege under government scholar- they must be a living experi- come to the synagogue — we
ships. Then followed two years ence for the preacher as for won't carry the Sefer Torahs on
at law college. By this time his the congregation, or they are the seven circuits around the
synagogue."
distinction as a student had at- dull, dreary, dead."
Reserved Seats Now Available
Early that evening a meet-
There are 30 sermons in all
tracted attention, and money
In Our Air Conditioned Sanctuary
ing
was
held.
The
old
man
had been raised by various indi- in this book, commending with
viduals to enable him to com- the introductory "A Great Time who had feared to join in the
for Preaching" in which he fight was present, having been
plete his education.
Upon his graduation, he was speaks of the sermon as "the escorted to the Sassoon home
offered a job as appeals exam- rabbi's unique instrument," his where the meeting was held,
iner in the High Court in Mad- "powerful w eap on," which by two young men. That night
ras. At last he was an independ- "must never be amateur soci- inequalities were wiped out.
ent man, with a salary of 50 ology, nor amateur psychiatry That night all Jews of Cochin,
rupees a month. But that was . . . ancient texts are wells of no matter what the color of
not to last long. The government living waters, when touched by their skin, were accepted as
had appealed for people to enter the divining rod of the authentic equals at the white Jews' syna-
gogue. That night, Simhat To-
training in fishery matters. See- rabbi."
"A Rabbi Takes Stock" and rah in the year 1932 was a
ing an opportunity to serve his
country in an important new "A Lover's Quarrel With the real Simhat Torah.
Since that night, A. B. Salem
field, A. B. resigned his post Rabbinate," which concludes the
as appeals examiner, and spent book as a supplement, on the and all Jews can join the serv-
Rabbi
two years in the fisheries branch rabbinate, will be found espe- ice in God's house as equals, can
Cantor
of government service. During cially intriguing. Many inter- sit on the benches and have all
James Gordon
Mendel Klein
the same period he found time esting experiences and power- other synagogue rights. And
to study for and pass his law ful lessons for the laity are con- since that night, the man who
For Information Call LI 6-6662
examinations. Then he gave up tained in the complete text of rose not from the ranks, but
his work, saying characteristic- this impressive gathering of who rose from the depths, A.
Young Israel Center of Oak Woods
ally, "Government service is not sermons on subjects dealing B. Salem, whose name signified
24061 COOLIDGE — OAK PARK
for me; it's only for psycopaths." with contemporary Judaism on peace, has fought other battles
peace
and
the
right.
for
the
American
scene.
He returned to Cochin, began

By IDA G. COWEN

CONGREGATION ADAS YESHURUN

Y oung gsrael (9ah Woods

nursery School

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