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AP7 10 to 01

Hebrew Song Praise to the Lord by Sara Cohen

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AP 293/VII/02 - Hebrew Song by Sara Cohen: Music of Kerala Jews
Call Number

AP 293/ AP7-02

Part Number Part VII - Music of Kerala Jews
Title Hebrew Song Praise to the Lord by Sara Cohen
Duration 2:01
Place of Recording Kalabhavan Studio
Date of Recording 01 February, 1996
Youtube URL
Video Segment (s)



HEBREW SONG: PRAISES TO THE LORD in the early hours of morning!

Note from Aramaic Project-292/ VII-01
We decided to add this section on the music of Kerala Jews to the Aramaic Project because Jews and Christians have a shared history in Kerala. Both communities share stories of immigration and practicing a foreign-born faith in a multi-religious and cultural milieu. Jewish and Christian communities flourished in Kerala and enjoyed upper-caste status with several social privileges. We do not read of religious persecutions of followers of a foreign faith in India. Both communities engaged in respectful interactions with the local society and made valuable contributions.

In the past, Sarah and Jacob Cohen, who lived in Jew Town in Kochi, were resource persons for several researchers from universities outside India. However, the language department or cultural department of Kerala did not take enough academic interest in their life story. In this context, I decided to document the musical memories of the Cohens. Besides, in 1995, I was on an assignment from the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music to coauthor an entry on Kerala with Dr. Rolf Groesbeck. I decided to write a section on the Jewish music of Kerala. On Saturday, 23 September 1995, I took a trip to the famous Jew Town in Kochi. Johnson Vazahappilly, CMI, who was a student of Kerala history, joined me. We found the home of Jacob and Sarah. They welcomed us joyfully. Subsequently, I visited the Cohens several times. We became friendly enough for Jacob Cohen to allow me to make a photocopy of a sixteenth-century manuscript about the Cochin Jews that was in his possession. The manuscript is available in our digital library. Later, on 1 February 1996, the Cohens agreed to a studio recording of their songs. Those are the songs we hear in this video. We have here a historical treasure in this video. Sarah did most of the singing, but Jacob introduced the song. Thus, we had the unique fortune of documenting the speech voice of Jacob Cohen.

This and the forthcoming videos in this series will be useful to study the extent of textual and melodic similarities of the songs of the Cochin Jews and the Syriac Christians, especially, the Knanaya Christians of Kerala (See P.M Jussey and Aramaic Project 279),

References :

Joseph J. Palackal, CMI
New York
20 October 2022

Keywords: #SaraCohen #JacobCohen #jewsofKerala #jewsofKochi

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