Last week when we were taking a stroll through Kala Ghoda we decided to take a turn off the main road down a little alley. This street drew us in for the fact that it didn’t look like the rest in the area, while there is a strong British influence in the design for obvious reasons, this street didn’t seem so overtly colonial era. Instead it had the charm of a smaller road you may find in the south of Europe- it also had a large sign which stood out: synagogue.
After walking in for just a minute we were impressed by a large blue building, in the fading light of early evening it was especially lovely. I soon realized it was one of the few synagogues in Mumbai - The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue. Built in the late 1800’s it was built by the Sassoon family, who also are represented in the area by the large Sassoon library on the main road.
I chatted with the Indian guards sitting at the entryway, next to the metal detector. They wouldn’t allow our group in, when I pointed at a British friend and said that he is Jewish he said that he still would only be able to attend if he presented appropriate paperwork. I knew they wouldn’t buy my being Jewish but they said that if I brought my passport on the right day I too could gain entry.
The security measures are understandable in light of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that had specifically targeted the Jewish community. I will be returning on my next trip to see inside and glean some more insight on this fascinating group - the Jews of India.