After decades in Israel, Jews from Kerala come visiting

Most of them left for Israel around 60 years ago from their Jewish settlement in Kerala for better prospects. But as this group of 21 visited the state, they expressed desire to spend their remaining lives here if permission is given.

"How peaceful and serene is Kerala," said Orli Mizrahi, who was at the Lotus Parnasala, Santhigiri Ashram, on the city outskirts with her husband Toba Eliace and other members of the group late Wednesday.

"We wish to live the rest of our lives in Kerala if we manage to obtain official permission. We plan to approach the state and central governments for this," Eliace said.

Seventyfive-year-old Izaya Ashtamker who led the group said they came to Santhigiri in a literal quest for peace and quiet.

Most of them had left from their Jewish settlement at Mattanchery in Kochi in 1954. They had an interaction with the Ashram delegates and revealed their intentions to return to their "motherland" permanently.

Penina Hai said the dream of revisiting this land of their birth which was etched into their memories had been a solace in the long years of war and fear.

The group sang a couple of lines from the national anthem and hummed a few old Malayalam numbers. Most of them were very comfortable to converse in Malayalam as they had completed primary education before leaving Kerala.

They are now in Kochi, where the last of handful of Jews reside, to re-live their childhood memories.

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