Interviews and Performances - Video List
AP7 10 to 01

"Prayer to God'" Hebrew song by Sarah Cohen. Intro by Jacob Cohen

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AP 296/VII/04 - "Prayer to God'" Hebrew song by Sarah Cohen. Intro by Jacob Cohen
Call Number

AP 296/ AP7-04

Part Number Part VII - Music of Kerala Jews
Title "Prayer to God'" Hebrew song by Sarah Cohen. Intro by Jacob Cohen
Duration 3:52
Place of Recording Kalabhavan Studio
Date of Recording 01 February, 1996
Youtube URL
Video Segment (s)



AP 296/VII/04 - "Prayer to God'" Hebrew song by Sarah Cohen. Intro by Jacob Cohen

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
29 October 2022

Keywords: #SaraCohen #JacobCohen #jewsofKerala #jewsofKochi

User comments

  • A precious nidhi to the collection of Aramaic project, bringing Jewish and Syrian together, moreover so good to know this Jewish family got integrated in Kerala ,lived there till the end of their lives and shared Jewish culture and religion , lived happily in Kerala. Their life and message ,also in singing even in their advanced age ,a great motivation for us, thank you and good luck Aramaic project - Rani , 20 October, 2022

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