Chennai Journal
Sunday, March 25, 2007
A Sad Chapter
Roberta, Jonathan (shown above at the entrance) and I went to the Jewish cemetery. It has been moved a couple of times, most recently in the 1980s, and is located in a bustling area, down a narrow street, a couple of kilometres from the new City Centre shopping building on the one side and from the beach on the other. Next to the Jewish cemetery there is a Chinese cemetery and a Bahai cemetery, carved out from the same general area.

Other than being overgrown with weeds and tomato plants (which are cleaned out every few months by the caretaker) the graves were in decent repair, aided by a 12 foot high wall that was built with funds from one of the Jewish aid societies in North America. There are less than ten gravestones---the oldest from the 1700s and the most recent the caretaker's stepmother, buried in the late 1980s. Besides the Salomon family, who were merchants in the 1700s, the others are more recent and somewhat random (varying dates and names), including a young European woman (1920-1943) who may likely have been a refugee from Germany. But, from the dedication marker below dating from 1901, it is clear that much of the Jewish community of Madras had already disappeared by the turn of the last century, since the state of the cemetery even at that time needed oversight.

A Chinese cemetery in Madras? This is extraordinary. I never knew there had been much of a Chinese presence in the city. Did you get any photos of it?
No sorry, we didn't. But it appeared to be in about the same state as the Jewish one.
I am visiting Chennai next week and if I can find it may visit the Jewish Cemetery, is it easy to locate?

Came across your blog when typing Chennai and Jewish on Google.

Do you have the name/address of the Jewish (native) family in Chennai? I may be going there to work in April 08.

Thanks, Rocky
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