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CRANGANORE, leading port and commercial center in ancient and medieval India, associated with the ancient port of Miziris, north of *Cochin. Medieval travelers (including Benjamin of Tudela) refer to it as Shingli, Shinkali or Ginjalek. In the historical tradition of the Malabar Jews, Cranganore is regarded as their original home and chief dwelling place. Jewish immigrants reputedly established their first foothold on the Malabar coast, and from there branched out into neighboring places and villages. According to tradition, the leader of the Jewish settlement in Cranganore, Joseph Rabban, was accorded by the Hindu emperor a charter and privileges engraved on copper plates still in the hands of Cochin Jews. The suggested date of these inscriptions ranges from the 4th to the 11th centuries C.E. The Jews of Cranganore enjoyed cultural and religious autonomy under their leader, called mudaliar, appointed by the rajah. Their number may have given rise to the widely circulated notion that the Jews had an independent kingdom in Cranganore. Given the fact that Muziris was an important port, it is possible to suppose that the Jews of the town were engaged in trade. Another argument in support of this view is that when in 1341 the harbor of Cranganore became silted up and the town lost its significance as a port, the Jews moved to Cochin. The conquest of Cranganore by the Portuguese in 1523 led to the complete destruction of the Jewish community. As a result there was another wave of emigration to other places in Malabar, from which the city of Cochin benefited in particular. The memory of the Jewish settlement in Cranganore/Shingli has survived until today. Until recently there was a tradition of placing a handful of earth from Cranganore in the coffin of a deceased Cochin Jew. The Shingli form of pronunciation is a specific feature of the liturgy of the Cochin synagogue.


D. Lopes (ed. and tr.), Historia dos Portugueses no Malabar… (1898); W.J. Fischel, Ha-Yehudim be-Hodu (1960). J.B. Segal, The Jews of Cochin (1993)

[W. J. F. Yulia Egorova (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.