KERALA, INDIA, September 14, 2022 (The Jewish Star): The Jewish community of Kerala, India, better known as Cochin Jews, has been shrinking — only 15 remain — ever since most of its members emigrated to Israel. Those who remain claim to be “the oldest diaspora community outside the Middle East.” An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 moved to Israel or elsewhere. The youth still in Kerala increasingly marry outside the community. The community commemorated the annual Onam festival with the state’s Hindus on September. 8. Last month its members conducted their first wedding in more than a decade, a notable achievement given how few Jews live in the state. Onam is observed by all religious groups in Kerala, and called the harvest festival of the state.

Although Kerala, population around 35 million, is majority Hindu, like the rest of India, it has a diverse religious landscape with a long Jewish presence. Legend holds that their ancestors arrived in the subcontinent shortly after the First Temple was destroyed in 587 BCE. Their claim to be the oldest Jewish community outside the Middle East is contested by another Indian group, the Mumbai Jews. In the 1500s, a different group came to Kerala from Europe, called the Paradesis, sometimes referred to as “White Jews.” They were mostly Ladino-speaking Sephardim from Spain and Portugal. [Ladino is a archaic form of Castilian Spanish spoken by the Sephardic Jews.] The older, established community became known as Malabaris, and the two groups remained distinct and sometimes experienced frictions. The Cochin Jewish dialect, Judeo-Malayalam, which is spoken by both Paradesis and Malabaris, is now considered endangered.

More of this history at source.,21809?