Bangladesh – with Jewish connections
April 21, 2011 20:58
Being a tourist here is a singular experience because the people aren’t used to seeing visitors.
(photo credit:David Zetler)
Iwas interested in including Bangladesh in our tour to Asia, but there would be
problems involved, the main one being that as Israelis, my wife and I were not
allowed into the Muslim country. An Israeli diplomat in Asia told me about
Mordecai Cohen, who grew up in what is today Bangladesh. I contacted him in
Kolkata, where he now lives, and planned how to get our Bangladeshi visas using
our foreign passports. An Asian Bangladeshi mission kindly granted us visas and
even warned us about the traffic in Dhaka.We arrived in Kolkata, where
we were made very welcome by Mordy and Jo Cohen. Mordy’s great-grandparents,
Jews from Iran and Iraq, settled in East Bengal in the 1800s in what was then
India. Very few Jews settled in East Bengal, as opposed to West Bengal, which
had a thriving Jewish community of more than 5,000 at its peak in and around
Kolkata (then Calcutta).