Thursday, March 24, 2011

Down in Jewtown

So the reason I am here in God's Own Country was to interview a friend named Thoufeek Zakriya.  I met Thoufeek virtually some years back after he found an article I wrote on Cochin's Jewish community.  Thoufeek is an Indian Muslim who does Hebrew calligraphy.  He got interested in Judaism and Hebrew calligraphy and started doing Hebrew calligraphy of prayers such as the birkat habayit (prayer for the house) and other prayers.  He does calligraphy in a number of languages, including Arabic and Sanskrit.  He also does something very unique: Hebrew calligraphy in Kufic Arabic script.  I helped convince Thoufeek to start a blog, you can find his work at http://thoufeekzak.blogspot.com.

Anyway, I met him down in Jewtown (yes, it is really called that) at Auntie Sarah's place.  Sarah is the matriarch of the Jewish community of Kerala, and is the oldest member remaining.  We stopped in to sit with her, and she noted that Thoufeek was like her grandson, and a real mensch.  We sat sipping tea and eating watermelon squares and black helwa (gelatinous sweets) and hearing about Sarah's memories.  Then Thoufeek and I went over to pop in to the synagogue.  The Paradesi Synagogue is 500 years old and is a resplendent beaut, complete with gorgeous azulejo tiles and hanging glass lamps.  The synagogue was being refurbished for pessach, and so we moved over to a place called Ginger to sip ginger lime soda on the water and chat about his work.  I won't get into too much of his story since I am writing an article about him, but he is a fascinating fellow and a wonderful symbol for tolerance.

3 comments:

makeadifference said...

Yes He is and he has a great future ahead......amazing talent....and am sure you must have enjoyed your time with Sarah Aunt...

Looking forward to read more about this.....

He had mentioned about you.....nice to see u here.

yusuf said...

heya Zakariya gud wrk

Paul Rockower said...

@make: Thoufeek is a blessing, and his work is a testament to all that connects us. Loved hanging with Sarah Auntie, and stopped back in a few times while in Cochin to see her.

@Yusuf, will pass on your compliment, thanks.