The Last Jews of Kolkata

Out of the city's 15 million residents, only 20 are Jewish.

Up until India's independence in 1947, there was once a large Jewish community in Kolkata. Known as "Baghdadi Jews," they came from present-day Iraq and Syria in the late 18th Century.Today, this Jewish world is vanishing. Out of the city's 15 million residents, only 20 are Jewish.

At the Jewish Girls School, almost all of the girls are Muslims. The caretakers of Kalkota's synagogues have, for generations, all been Muslims.

Documentary filmmakers Audrey Gordon and Ben Hoffman arrived in Kolkata in December, 2014. The synagogues were not easy to find, lost in bustling central Kolkata between the vendor lines, the pedestrians, the cars, the motorbikes and the rickshaw pullers.

Fascinated by vanishing cultures and by the issues of tolerance, they decided to tell this story.

Baptiste Saint-Dizier (Editor)
Audrey Gordon (Journalist and Director)
Ben Hoffman (Photographer and Director)

Comments (9)

(7) ChipzJang, June 10, 2015 2:07 PM


Thanks for making the documentary. The Indian-Jewish (the Baghdadi, the Cochini and the Bene-Israeli) community is truly amazing. A diamond in the rough.

(6) Beverly Margolis, June 6, 2015 10:42 PM

Very interesting

I appreciate the fact that they are taking care of the Jewish community's last vestiges of Jewish life. I've nothing against Muslims, they are the only other monotheists in the world. I do not judge others who do not follow Judaism. I respect Islam because they they are like us Jews and worship the same God that we do. Mohammad was NOT ever consider a god. I live in an area what has two beautiful mosques, only funny-mental Christians have problems with them being here, it's a shame that they do. It's a shame that so many Jews have left that city, but that is life. Shalom, shalom, shalom

(5) Peter Headington, June 4, 2015 3:23 PM


What an idiot Anonymous above is making such a crass comment. If by using al Jazeera footage it gets the message across - then fine - where is your video my friend?

Listening to the dialogue of the caretaker and the students etc makes them leaders in working for peace.

(4) Lorraine Erasmus, June 3, 2015 6:12 AM

Where are the South African jews noiw?

Reading about the last jews in Kolkata my thoughts turned to when I was young. I grew up in Benoni and of course my surname was different as I married and it was changed to that of my husband, but as a child I had many jewish friends and wonder where they are now one I know married a doctor and went to live in America, the others just seem to have disappeared. My husband grew up in a town in the Karoo as they were farming people and there were many jewish people there but all seem to have gone now. The little synagogue was sold and turned into a house so I think all those people have left the area and perhaps the country.

There are still many jewish people in Cape Town and some in Johannesburg.

(3) Anonymous, June 3, 2015 2:41 AM


How is it possible that you are using Al Jazeera, giving them such respect! Do you have to pay them, thereby helping fund terrorism?

MARK BRECKER, June 4, 2015 9:48 PM



Beverly Margolis, June 6, 2015 10:31 PM

Some people just don't get it

If it were not for the clip from Al Jazeer, we'd not know exactly what is going on there. Not all Muslims are Arabs and Al Jazeer is recognized as a legitimate news outlet. What makes you so sure that they fund terrorism? If you do, please let us know, you have access to where they spend their money.

(2) David Levine, June 2, 2015 11:34 PM

Would have been nice

It would have been nice if we could have actually SEEN the documentary.

(1) Michael Friedman, June 2, 2015 4:25 PM

Very interesting video

Tov me'od !


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