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Welcome to Perl’s Calcutta Jews.

We have indexed 1236 marriages that took place between 1815 and 1921, mostly in Calcutta but also in Dinapur, Moulmein, Rangoon, Gorakhpur, Singapore, Bhagalpur, Faizabad and Penang.

This has never been done before and until we discovered these records at the National Library of Israel, virtually no one was aware of their existence.

The marriages were recorded by various leaders of the community and were somehow “sold” into the hands of David Sassoon in the first decades of the 20th century. He kept these records in his vast library in Letchworth, England but they now are housed at the NLI. Perhaps we should be thankful for otherwise, it is highly likely they would have been lost. The books are as follows:

  • Moses Dweck Cohen 1812 – 1860 Pinkas Tzarchei Tzibbur – Neveh Shalome
  • Elazar b. Maari Aaron 1829-1864 – Bian Alketubot veAlkedushin (67 weddings)
  • Aaron Shalom Yahya Gabbai Iyar 1866- Adar II 1908 – Seder Hachupot
  • Maghen David Synagogue Ketubot 1908 – 1921

They are all written in a Hebrew script known as Solitreo or Hatzi Kulmoos. One prime example pictured here is of an early ketuba between Hyeem son of Simon Dwek Cohen to Rivka daughter of Shalom Aaron Cohen in Heshvan 5716 corresponding to the 19th of November 1816. The wedding took place in Chinsurah, which was the Dutch trading settlement that pre-dated the British,40km north of the Maghen David Synagogue. In the middle of 1820, the place changes from Chinsurah to Calcutta.

To allow for better searches, I have also included the cemetery database, already widely available on other sites. That way, one can find not just the dates of death of those who married but perhaps both sets of parents (or even grandparents) too. We have created a function that allows one to search the cemetery by section, in case other relatives are buried nearby. For example, now that you know the name of a woman’s family, parents and siblings could be buried nearby. Searching by section rather than name gives the researcher another means to find connections. Please note that the grave numbering is not consistent nor does it always follow a straight line so you should not only look at numbers in the immediate vicinity.

We hope this ground-breaking work will add tremendous value to families trying to piece together family trees as well to those researching the Iraqi community. We have many circumcision records too but have not had the time to index those. We hope to complete this at a later date.

 

Michael Perl
September 2023

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