What has India to do with Cuba?
What has India to do with Cuba? Jews of course!
I am an Australian Jew with historical connections
to the ancient Jewish community of Cochin in India. On my first
visit to the Jewish community of Santiago de Cuba, I was amazed
at the similarities in Jewish names in Cuba and India.
As is well known, the Sefardim of Cuba are
referred to as Turcos, denoting the last country of their residence.
The Turkish Jewish community is the other common thread between
the Jews of Cochin and Cuba, apart from Sefarad, Spain. On
expulsion during the 15th century of common era, the Jews had
settled all around the Mediterranean including Turkey.
New immigrants to Israel are often resettled
in Beersheva. A group of 13 Jews migrated from Guantanamo, Cuba
and were resettled in and around Beersheva. Who are their neighbours?
Jews from India! Many of them have same surnames and same country
of previous residence, Turkey. Now five hundred years later, this
reunion takes place in Eretz Israel.
Going through the common Jewish names in Cochin,
one recognizes the common origins of many of the Sefardim who
live in far- flung corners of the world. The following are the
names and their land of origin:
||Spain via Turkey
||Sarpat in Hebrew means France
It is to be remembered that these families
had lived in India for centuries some going back to 1500's. (
So one meets a Castiel in Santiago de Cuba,
a Pinto in Jamaica or England, a Hallegua in Uruguay, a Zackai
in the United States, a Koder in Australia. Reminds us the historical
continuity of our people, and that regardless of our current nationalities,
we belong to one nation, the nation of Jews.
The writer of this article, Yehuda
Kadar Shaheb, MD, is a visiting professor of Anthropology at the
University of Habana and likes to consider Baracoa as his Cuban
home. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org