samedi 19 septembre 2009

Sad News of the Death of Sammy Hallegua in Cochin

Received an email from my good friend Rockey Neroth from Fort Cochin to say that his local guardian, whom he had known since 1986, had passed away in Cochin. It was Sammy Hallegua, the warden of the synagogue.
Last October, 2008, I had the chance to participate in the Simchat Torah celebrations at the Synagogue and it is an unique celebration of the cochinis, a joyous occasion with the synagogue all lit up and decorated. I clearly remember Sammy singing and dancing, since he was conducting the service. On my way to a conference in Cochin december 2008, I saw him waiting for his son, who is in the USA, who arrived on the same flight as I had, from Bombay. He looked frail but bright and cheerful and had his kippah on.
it is a sad day for cochinis. there are just 7 left i think in Jew Town.. where there had been a synagogue since 1145 of common era! today is the first day of New Year, and I am sure that the silence of the jew town and the synagogue would be deepened by this loss.
I remember Dickie Cohen, who is no more, his brother in law Shalom and my good friend Itzhak Hallegue.. all departed leaving good memories.
I have a hebrew calendar for 5767 hand copied by Sammy since there were no Hebrew calendars to be had that year. Sarah Cohen gave me her old copy, which I shall treasure.
My heartfelt condolences to his wife of many years, Queenie and also his son David who is practising as a Rheumatologist in LA, his wife and their lovely daughter. I had never met sammy's daughter who also lives in the USA, i knew that she had received a Masters Degree in Sociology. Sammy did mention that he went over there for her wedding as well.
You are in our thoughts like you are in the hearts of many people, not only jews, indian and foreign who had the pleasure of meeting you or praying with you, but hundreds of men and women from every walk of life from your beloved cochin. They will remember you with gratitude, as did my good friend Rockey Neroth..
I shall say the Kaddish..
AmericanIndians say that nothing is casual, casualidad es no tan casual.. just today I also received in the mail , the book by Edna Fernandes: The Last Jews of Kerala..