Home > Calcutta (Kolkata) Jews, General > Neveh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Neveh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Neveh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Rebirth of Kolkata’s (Calcuta’s) Oldest Synagogue

Also See: Kolkata (Calcutta ) Jews

“In 1806 Calcutta was at the height of its golden age. Known as the City of palaces or the St. Petersburg of the East, the British bridgehead in Bengal was unquestionably the richest, largest and most elegant colonial city in India.”

William Dalrymple, White Mughal

Navheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Neveh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

It was during these golden days of Calcutta (Kolkata) the first Jewish settlers arrived in the city. The first recorded Jewish immigrant to Kolkata was Shalon Cohen in 1798 from Aleppo in present day Syria.

Interiors of Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata

Interiors of Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata

Soon other Jews followed from Baghdad (Iraq) and Isfahan (Iran) by mid 1830s Calcutta (Kolkata) had a thriving Jewish population.

Although Jews were one of the last communities to arrive in Calcutta (Kolkata) but within a short span of time they made their presence felt by controlling a large section of the trade in Calcutta (Kolkata).

With the rapid increasing in numbers the Jews of Calcutta (Kolkata) needed a place of worship.

Neveh Shalome Synagogue (also Called Neveh Shalom Synagogue), the first Calcutta (Kolkata) Synagogue was built in 1831 by Shalom Obaidah ha – Kohen and was named in memory of his father Shalom ha – Cohen.

Apse (Half Dome) Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata

Apse (Half Dome) Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata

Neveh Shalome Synagogue was just a simple prayer hall at the intersection of Brabourne Road and Canning Street (Biplabi Rashbehari Road), the very place where the magnificent Magen David Synagogue now stands.

As the Calcutta (Kolkata) Jews community grew in numbers and power they were no longer satisfied with the simple prayer hall.

The simple prayer hall were soon replaced by magnificent synagogues like the Beth El Synagogue and Magen David Synagogue. Beth El came up in nearby Pollock Street in 1856 followed by the Magen David in 1884.

The old Neveh Shalome Synagogue was demolished in 1884 to give way to the magnificent Magen David Synagogue, but in 1910 the Jews of Calcutta 9kolkata) decided to rebuilt the Neveh Shalome Synagogue in the vacant plot in the Magen David Synagogue complex.

The simple but elegant interiors of Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

The simple but elegant interiors of Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Keeping in lines of the old prayer hall the new Neveh Shalome Synagogue was kept simple, but soon services started and attracted the thriving Jewish population of the city.

But the good old days of the Jews in the city were short lived, with independence of India in 1947 and the birth of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 marked the decline of Jewish population in Calcutta (Kolkata).

With the declining population the services in the Synagogues soon stopped and the magnificent structures were left in utter neglect. But in early 2000 the Magen David and the Beth El Synagogues were restored to their former glory by the Archaeological survey of India (ASI).

Interiors of Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Interiors of Nevheh Shalome Synagogue, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Sadly the Neveh Shalome did not come under the heritage tag of ASI and remained neglected. It was only in 2014 the Jewish Community decided to restore the Synagogue.

 Today Neveh Shalome Synagogue is restored in its past glory, with its simple and elegant interiors. The central podium, the passage leading to the alter with the apse (half dome), sadly the apse lacks the stained glass windows with the 10 commandments or the star studded sky.

Although the interiors are simple but the furnitures and the chandeliers and along with the DC fans creates an elegant ambiance and reminds one of the glorious days of the Jewish Community in Kolkata (Calcutta).

To visit Neveh Shalome Synagogue a permission is required from Ms A M Cohen, General Secretary, Jewish Community Affairs from the Jewish Girls School, Kolkata

Special Thanks:

  • Ms A. M. Cohen, General Community Affairs, Jewish Community Affairs for providing valuable  information on the Jewish Community of Kolkata (Calcutta).
  • Deepanjan Ghosh, fellow blogger and Kolkata (Calcutta) enthusiast, who not only accompanied me during the visit to the Naveh Shalome Synagogue, but provided valuable information of the Synagogues of Kolkata (Calcutta). Do visit Deepnajan’s Blog.
  1. October 10, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    Excellent Photographs.

  2. October 10, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Finally it’s restored….!!!

    • October 10, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Yes Bhavani, thanks to the Jewish Community of Kolkata (Calcutta)

  3. October 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Informative…feels real good that you are bringing out the face of the city unknown

    • October 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM

      Thanks Datta for your inspiring comments.

  4. October 11, 2014 at 3:16 AM

    Some of your posts ( like this one) make me feel that I’ve so much to explore in my own city…🙂

    • October 11, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Thanks Maniparana for the comment, Kolkata is an amazing place the more you explore the more you discover!!!!

  5. indrani
    October 11, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    Some day I have to take a walk with you in Kolkata.🙂

    • October 11, 2014 at 8:15 PM

      Indrani you are always welcome, just drop me a mail before you are in Kolkata.

  6. Abhinaba Basu
    October 21, 2014 at 1:11 AM
    • October 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Yes Abhinaba I have read it and I also know the Muslim caretakers personally.

  7. October 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Note Sukkah on the left of gate, constructed for the celebration of Sukkot, the Jewish festival of the Tabernacles.

    • October 23, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      Yes, Doubledolphin (Deepanjan) you are right!!!

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