By: Syed Haroon Haider Gilani

Magen Shalom

Magen Shalom (earlier it was spelled as “Magain Shalome”) was a Synagogue (until 19th century, Beni-Israel Jewish Community in India, used the term “masjid“for Synagogues)   of tiny Jewish community living in Karachi during 20th century, located on survey No. RC-3, measuring 1,190 square yards at Lawrence Road (Today it is called Nishtar Road) in the Ranchore Line Quarters area of Karachi . It was demolished by a mob on July 17, 1988, precisely a month ago before a C-130 plane carrying top military brass of Pakistan, including General Muhammad Zia Ul Haq. It is commonly described as built by Shalome Solomon Umerdekar and his son Gershone Solomon in 1893. The synagogue was extended in 1912 by Umerdekar’s son, Gershon Solomon Umerdekar and a community hall named “Shegulbai Hall” was built by Abraham Reuben Kamerlekar in memory of Shegulabai Solomon Umerdekar. During 1916-18 the Karachi Jewish community opened a Hebrew school on the synagogue premises and in 1918 constructed the Nathan Abraham Hall.

The sign board of Magen Shalom Synagogue, Karachi.
The sign board of Magen Shalom Synagogue, Karachi.

AFTER READING YOUR ARTICLE ,I WAS SO SURPRISED TO SEE
THE KARACHI SYNAGOGUE MAGEN SHALOM WHICH WAS BUILT BY
MY GREAT GRAND FATHER DAVID SOLOMON UMADAKER AND MY
GRAND FATHER GERSHONE UMADAKER .I EVEN SAW THE PHOTO
OF MY ELDER BROTHER GERSON GERSHONE BAR MITZVA IN KARACHI
THANK YOU FOR ALL WHAT YOU HAVE PUT IN..

REUBEN GERSHONE  UMADAKER
UMADAKER

A few years ago, my visit to Bene Israel Graveyard, located in Mewa Shah Graveyard, revealed when I read the gravestone of Solomon David that reads, “Very well-known and highly regarded Solomon David always wanted a liberal Jewish community, through his own expense built a fine synagogue, Magen Shalome (In Herew הרווחה ידוע ומוערך מאוד שלמה דוד, ביקש תמיד של הקהילה היהודית דרך ליברליות שלו נבנה על חשבונו בית כנסת נאה, מגן שלום).”

In Karachi, Jews lived mainly in the Ranchor Line and Ramswami areas in Karachi and there were around 2500 Jews at the time of the partition of subcontinent. They were part of the larger Ben-e- Israel group of the British India. The synagoue was built to cater to this small but active community. Some accounts suggest that it was bulit by Shalome Solomon Umerdekar and his son Gershone Solomon while others suggest that it was built by Solomon David, a surveyor for the Karachi Municipality towards the end of 18th century.

Map 01 -Jubille - Magain Shalome

It is evident that the community despite the small number was vibrant and formed number of associations to oversee welfare and social activities of the group. The Young Man’s Jewish Association, Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund and Karachi Jewish syndicate were few such associations but they disappeared one by one as the exodus continued due to several factors most importantly ‘in 1970, Jews were offered and arranged by Global Jewish forums to USA’. The synagogue was the last active forum which was demolished to pave way for a commercial plaza (Khurram Shopping Mall) in late 80′s. A Jewish graveyard in Mewashah is the last surviving edifice.Ironically, a pseudo “The Bene Israel Trust” has recently claimed the Land of demolished “Magen Shalom”, a very precious piece of real estate, but no body ever took any interest for the only remaining Jewish Presence Memory, The Jewish Cemetery in Mewashah Graveyard in Karachi.

Jews in Karachi

Jewish community has long historic roots in Subcontinent. In areas, comprising today’s Pakistan had about 153 Jews, mostly living in Karachi by 1818, the number increased to 650 in 1919. At the time of emergence of Pakistan, there were approximately 2500 Jews living in Karachi only with one Synagogue named Magen Shalom. Another account describes the number of 400 Jewish people living in Karachi in 1959. A member of Jewish Family, Mr. Emanuel Matat told me, “When my father got married in 1957 in Karachi, there were 600 Jewish families living in Karachi. There were 10 – 13 families left by 1972. Actually in 1970 the Jews of Pakistan were offered to leave to America and that’s the main reason that time many of the community left”. The total population of Jewish community in subcontinent was about thirty thousand by that time. Also, two other Jewish cemeteries are reported to me during my quest about the Jewish presence in Karachi. Another account, details the activities of Jews in Karachi by Jonathan Marder.

My family has a strong connection with Karachi, and probably accounted for most of the very small community of European Jews there. My great-grandfather, Simon Wyse, ran the Great Western Hotel, and my grandparents ran the Killarney Hotel there. The Killarney was first housed in a building that later served as the Russian Consulate which, I believe, has been restored as part of the Bay View School.

In the early 1930’s the hotel moved to a ‘palace’ built by a Parsi entrepreneur and was renamed the ‘Killarney Hotel, Marder’s Palace’. The building was, unfortunately, demolished in the 1970s. In its place stands the modern Sheraton Hotel.

My father grew up in Karachi before going to school in England, and went back in 1939 to serve in the Indian Army during the War. He now lives in the UK. One of his aunts married Moses Somake, an Iraqi Jew who, I have learnt, was one of Karachi’s leading architects. One of his buildings is the Flagstaff House that later became the home of Mohammad Ali Jinnah.”

Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to visit Karachi, but have heard many of my father’s and grandparents’ stories. I am in touch with many of our relatives, including Somake’s descendents.

The Beni-Israel Community of India in 19th Century

Megan Shalom, Interior

The Beni-Israel possess no historical documents peculiar to themselves; they have no charters granted by native princes, which are often a source of curious information. Their ancestors, they say, came to the coasts of India, from a country to the northward, about eighteen hundred years ago. They were in number seven men, and seven women, who were saved from a watery grave, on the occasion of a shipwreck, which took place near Chaul, about thirty miles to the south-east of Bombay. The place where they found a refuge, is named Navagaun, which is now part of Mumbai. They and their descendants met with considerable favour from the native princes, though they conceived themselves to be sometimes forced to conceal their principles. As they increased, they spread themselves among the villages of the Konkan, particularly those near the coast, and lying between the Bankot river (Savitri river), and the road which traverses the country between Panwel, and the Bhor Ghat. In this locality, and also in Bombay, in which they began to settle after it came into the possession of the British, their descendants and buildings are still to be found.

Magain Shalome Interrior

In 1840, the population on this island amounted to about 1932 souls; in the English territories in the Konkan, to about 800; in the districts belonging to Angria, to 870, in certain villages below the ghat, of the Pant Sachiva (Bhor State), to 209; in the districts of the Habshi to 444; and, in the Bombay army, including women and children, to about 1000. These numbers, which amount altogether to 5255, I take principally from a census made under my own direction. They fall short of the general native estimate by nearly 3000, and possibly some houses may have been overlooked by the persons sent forth to collect information.

The Beni-Israel in their physiognomy resemble the Arabian Jews, though they view the name Yehud, when applied to them, as one of reproach. They are fairer than the other natives of India of the same rank of life with themselves; but they are not much to be distinguished from them with regard to dress. They have no shendi, like the Hindus, on the crown of their heads; but they preserve a tuft of hair above each of their ears. Their turbans, angrakhas, and shoes are like those of the Hindus; and their trousers like those of the Muslims. Their ornaments are the same as those worn by the middle class of natives in the Maratha country. Their houses do not differ from those of other natives of the same rank. They do not eat with persons belonging to other communities; but don’t object to drink from vessels belonging to Christians, Musalmans, or Hindus. They ask a blessing from God both before and after their meals, in the Hebrew language.

Each of the Beni-Israel, generally speaking, has two names, one derived from a character mentioned in Scripture, and another which has originated in deference to Hindu usage. The Hebrew names current among the men are the following: —Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, (which is said most to abound) Joseph, Naphtali, Zebulun, Benjamin, Samson, Moshe, Aaron, Eliezer, Phinehas, David, Solomon, Elijah, Hezkiel, Daniel, Sadik, Haim, Shalom, and Nashim. The name Judah, it is to be remarked, is not to be found among them. The Hindii names, by which they are most commonly known among the natives, are Saku, Jitu, Rama, Bapii, Sawandoba, Tana, Dhonda, Abau, Bandu, Nathu, Dada, Dhamba, Bala, Baba, Vitu, or Yethu, Phakira, Yeshu, Satku, Apa, Bhau, Bapshah, Gaiiria, Pita, Bawa, Anandia, Kama, Jangu, Aba.

Among these there are only a few which correspond with those of the heathen gods. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Saphira, Milcah, Zilchah, Miriam, and Hannah, are the Hebrew names given to the women. Esther, the favourite Jewish name, does not occur among them. The names derived from the Hindus which are found among them, are Balku, Abai, Ama, Yeshi, Zaitu, Tanu, Hasu, Ladi, Baina, Aka, Kami, Bayewa, Baia, Nanu, Raju, Thakii, Kalabai, Maka, Saku, Gowaru, Dudi, Sai, Sama, and Bhiku, Pithu, Wohu, Dhakalu. The Hebrew names are first conferred on the occasion of circumcision; and those of a Hindu origin about a month after birth. The surnames of the Beni-Israel are generally de rived from the villages in which they originally settled.

Beni-Israel Konkan
The Map of Maharashtra, India, showing Chaul and Navagaon. Chaul is the place, where Ancestors of Beni-Israel landed in India, and Navagaon is the area, where they following generations settled, before spreading across the states of Konkan and Maharashtra.

The vernacular language of the Beni-Israel, is the Marathi. A few of them, however, are able to converse in Gujarati and Hindustani (Hindi). The Beni-Israel resident in the Konkan, principally occupy themselves in agriculture, or in manufacturing oil.1 Those who live in Bombay, with the exception of a few shopkeepers, are artizans, particularly masons and carpenters. A few are blacksmiths, goldsmiths, and tailors. Some of them, generally bearing an excellent character as soldiers, are to be found in most of the regiments of Native Infantry in the Bombay Presidency; and few of them retire from the service, without attaining to rank as native officers. There are not many of them who possess much property. Their head-man in Bombay, however, is believed to possess one or two lakhs of rupees. A considerable number of families are supposed to be worth from 1000 to 5000 rupees. Like the Parsis, they do not tolerate professional begging beyond their own community.

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38 thoughts on “Magen Shalom, The Last Synagogue in Pakistan

  1. from the surnames like Umerdekar,Kamerlekar it appears dat these jews must have been migrated from maharashtra to karachi!!!!there was a considerable chunk of maharashtrians living in karachi!there was maharashtra sadan building built in 1932 in karachi!i heard it from the person who had recently been in karachi that,that building still lies there!!do u knw smething more abt dat ???any sort of information if u hav????

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  2. i have also heard that there is also a jewish cemetery in Liari area of karachi. infact their is a video on youtube showing that cemetery. must watch that vid.

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  3. Yes many of these Jews came from Maharashtra (the Bene Israel Jews). Others came from Baghdad as traders or from Peshawar (the Jews of Peshawar were originally from Bukhara – Persian Jews). But they lived in Karachi for generations. My great-grandmother Rachaelbai was born there. I wish I could visit.

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    1. I read about rachaelbai ithink she was mother rachael joseph who was last custodian jewish cemetery.They used to speak gujrati language, jewish family lived on ground floor of agha bldg.I know them very well.family migrated to israel in 1975.

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  4. Haroon Haider did an ultimateb research on Pakistani jews.
    It is a sorry state of affair that the Synagogue was demolished to construct a shopping plaza. Pakistan is paying the cost of it’s mistakes of past in the form of the present unrest.

    Time to learn tolerance from India.

    Wassalam,

    Sahab Shabbir
    Muzaffarpur, India

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  5. my father had seen that synagogue many times and chief accountant at my grand father press was jew from same area……..most of them left karachi in zia era

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  6. The arab religion has transported their hatred, lies and inferiority complex towards jews into your hearts. What a decrepit ideology the arab god and his agent has sent to you called muslims. Jews never did anything bad to the people of the ISC (Indian Subcontinent). But your arab religion has made you into hate-filled irrational quislings and zombies. No chance that you will come out of it at this rate.

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  7. A very well-written article. Thank you. I remember the synangogue pretty well. It is sad to find out that it was demolished. One more thing, I don’t understand what purpose hiob’s comment serves, besides furthering the wedge between muslims and non-muslims.

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  8. Good information about Jews of Pakistan, it is unfortunate that they left the country on their own on the same basis as Muslim’s of India migrated to Pakistan as they were having their own homeland, nobody forced them out like Iran forced Zartoshti community. In Gen. Zia’s time the General Manager of Holiday Inn Hotel Islamabad which is now Marriott was supposed to be local Jew and he got a carpet on which his family tree was knotted, I don’t know where he gone and when. Mrs Rachel’s grand son Yifay can claim the apartment & place for synagogue from the owner of the present day building in place of his ancestors! There were Jews in this part of the world as once they were thrown out of Palestine/Israel in per-historic times they spread throughout the world, so they were living here too peacefully and were not forced to convert or go as was done with them in Spain and on their call Muslim’s came to Spain to protect them (Tariq bin Ziad). Unfortunately Jews never treated Palestinian & Arab Muslim’s well and always involved in great games that is why the issue of Palestine is not getting resolved so peace could prevail for both brothers (Jews & Muslim’s), even then Jews were not forced out. Tragic thing is that land grabbers of Karachi demolished the building as it could have been protected under Evacuee Trust Old Building Protection Act as Islam strictly prohibits demolishing the place of worship except for demolishing idols as it is prohibited in all 3 major religions (Islam, Jew & Christianity). Now the land grabbers in Israel are destroying property of Arab’s in the same way which is wrong too, we should try to live peacefully in Israel and Palestine as were to avoid confrontation and rights for both countries & people.
    As mentioned that the last lot left in 1988 was may be because they were knowing the new Great Game which was going to start after departure of Soviet Union as they were aware of 9-11 when they avoided to go to WTC! Probably now when their game is on they would have been forced to leave today when their agents so called Taliban are going for Talibanisation but I still doubt as they so far never forced Jews in Afghanistan or Iran to leave or minorities to leave from Pakistan except for few very fanatics those are killing other sect people without any reason just on the signals of their foreign mentors but even than not forced minorities!

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    1. Hi Everybody, I was called by a Jewish friend and asked to post these words into the comments section.
      “I didn’t said so in past due to fear of hurting the sentiments of our Jewish fellows but after reading the responses and a mindset being established, I am here to reveal that Magen Shalom was sold legitimately to the builder by a Jewish Primary School teacher of Karachi named Rachel Josef. It enabled her to travel to Israel and then often visiting Pakistan. A Primary school teacher in Pakistan can’t even think to even pay for the passport fees, every body know it while she was found not only frequently travelling from Israel to Europe and then from Europe to Pakistan, which is only possible with a very good bank balance.”

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      1. How can a synagogue be sold legitimately by one person? Was it her personal estate? Even if the sale itself was legitimate, the events that lead to demise of a people and subsequent loss of their place of worship can never be justified. It reminds me of how Israel used to buy homes of Palestinian people “legally”.

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      2. Israel is founded by Zionists of Ashkenazi Jews of Estern Europe, commonly known as Converted Jews of Khazaria. Pakistani Jews were mainly from other, pure Jewish traditions and had been living in this region for centuries, much more before the emergence of Islam. These had no ties with Ashkenazi Jews un till Anti-Judaism has been promoted to gain certain personal goals and pushed the Jews out of this region. Islam strictly and emphatically orders the Muslims to protect their fellow Non-Muslims and their places of worship. Does not it?

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      3. 1) Agreed, two wrongs never make a right, hence Palestine does not justify Karachi.
        2) Ashkenazi Jews supported Zionism more because they suffered more in the Holocaust.
        3) I would refrain from labelling Jews from any specific area as “impure”. Black Jews & Russian Jews are already having a difficult time claiming their religious identity (Reminds me of our Ahmadiyya brothers). One of my mother’s friends in Karachi was a Desi Jewish lady married to a Muslim naval officer back in the 70s. Even though she converted to Islam, my mother told me that most people in her circle of friends never accepted her. People used to say, ” Once a Jew, always a Jew”.
        4) Congratulations on your great original research. God bless you.

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      4. Haroon, I think we’re drifting away from the topic here … anyways I don’t necessarily agree with your theory of Christianity conspiring against Islam and Judaism. Chrisitanity, if anything is figting its own battle of political survival. I remember when the late Pope John Paul II opposed Iraq war, the Roman Catholic Church was harshly punished by the scandal of child abuse allegations against US Cardinals. Likewise the Church has been helpless in recent years in cases of Serbia, Northern Ireland and Cuba. Ofcourse you can argue against this and point out East Timor, Darfur etc. To me the centers of power seem to be away from the centers of Christianity. The US has not had a Catholic President since JFK. Some people talk about the Protestant – Zionist alliance, that seems far fetched as well.
        As far as coexisting in the Middle East or Pakistan is concerned, Gandhi once said, “There’s enough on this Planet for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed”.

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  9. My earnest request to you is to please write and research and make people know the link between the Jews and the other 10 tribes of Bani-Israel (ie the Family of Hazrat e Yaqoob aleh salam) ..for just an intro the other 10 tribes successfully settled in Khorasan area in hIstory and are the Pashtuns … so to they are the Muslim bani -israel …

    PS: I am NOT a Ahmadiya …Allah bachye

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  10. As a young man living in karachi between 1971 -1979 I had been to the Magen Shalom Synagogue many times,but I always found the gate locked,
    I asked some people where do the yahudi go to pray and was told that the jewish community had hired a place in the tibet center on bunder road and
    the Rabai conducts prayers,circumcisn and other kosher rites in there.
    The jews of Karachi had similar muslim names like perwaiz,asghar etc etc
    and they did not stand out from the local people .I would like to mention
    that on 9/12/2001 an official delegation came from Israel to Chicago to train the airport security at Ohare,I was surprised that the young people looked very much like pakistani youth except that they were speaking
    yiddish.

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  11. Humayun Akhund said…
    Jews of Peshawar

    There is always speculation about the Jews of Peshawar. The material available on net is totally base less and wrong. If we traced back the history of Jews I n Peshawar we found that after the Soviet revolution in 1907 the Jews of central Asian states are migrated to Peshawar .when they came to Peshawar they settled in the famous Gorgatry building .In which they stayed till 1910. In Peshawar the famous setti families are doing business with the central Asia so some of the Jew may knew members of that family. The setti family allowed some of the Jews family to reside in there house in mohallah settyan moh kawhsheke bazaar Kallan . These Jews are of the two type one are very rich and the other are very poor and are street venders .who sell home made pudding, kinddy and other edible items. But the rich are doing their business of clothes selling in the Hastings memorial which now called choke yadgar. It is stated that at that time when the migrated from central Asian states the setti family are doing business in cites of the central Asian state like Bukra Taskant etc. because of that they approached to them particularly the honorary magistrate setti Karam Ilahi setti Kareem Baksh setti Abdul Gafoorr . They happily settled them in their hoses moh kawshki opposite the mosque .one family of Benjamin mairaif is settled in moh kudadad . This man is doing business of clothes in Peshawar. He has two sons Hanail Benjamin and Yushfa Benjamin and two doughtier Sara and Mazol. They are from different mothers so they quarreled with each other all the time. The eldest one Hanial Benjamin is living in other vicinity called mundi berre inside yaka toot gate. He through two time acid on his younger brother which caused his one eye fully damaged. Benjamin Mairaif has property also in mambay and Quatta. Some other Jews who are residing in Peshawar are Yuna Dadvouf Abdullah Abdul Kareem both of them are doing business of fur. Another Benjamin is also here I n Peshawar who sells chaddar (a peace of clothes traditional used by Puktoons). Two other brothers are David god and Sulman god sons of Naseer god are also doing fur business. The Jew of Peshawar city kept long beard wears loses trousers wearing traditional Jew cape on their head. Their woman are completely covered themselves in black burqa .they speaks Hebrew and Persian .after the creation of Israel some more Jew are also come from Afghanistan to Peshawar. Some prominent figure of Peshawar city have assured the than government of Pakistan that they will go back to Afghanistan. But, they don’t do that and instated of going back they migrated to Israeli via Peshawar. in the result is that their Pakistani sureties are facings court and put themselves in jeopardy one of these Jew is Seven god son of Naseer god who came to Peshawar in June 1949 .In Peshawar they don’t have any synagogue they observed their religion and don’t do any work on Saturday .They have a peace of land for their graveyard which one of the Jew David marziouf bought from a member of kawja family in 1932. But today this land is under cultivations and no sign of any grave is there. This land is transfers back to one of the member of that family through a court decree in 1973.In the walled city of Peshawar in almost in every street on every second house there is David star but they are no concern with Jew because these buildings are made by Hindus and this is a local traditional Peshawari style of windows. Written by humayun_m_pk@yahoo.com
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    9:00 AM, July 18, 2008
    Humayun Akhund said…
    Jews of Peshawar

    There is always speculation about the Jews of Peshawar. The material available on net is totally base less and wrong. If we traced back the history of Jews I n Peshawar we found that after the Soviet revolution in 1907 the Jews of central Asian states are migrated to Peshawar .when they came to Peshawar they settled in the famous Gorgatry building .In which they stayed till 1910. In Peshawar the famous setti families are doing business with the central Asia so some of the Jew may knew members of that family. The setti family allowed some of the Jews family to reside in there house in mohallah settyan moh kawhsheke bazaar Kallan . These Jews are of the two type one are very rich and the other are very poor and are street venders .who sell home made pudding, kinddy and other edible items. But the rich are doing their business of clothes selling in the Hastings memorial which now called choke yadgar. It is stated that at that time when the migrated from central Asian states the setti family are doing business in cites of the central Asian state like Bukra Taskant etc. because of that they approached to them particularly the honorary magistrate setti Karam Ilahi setti Kareem Baksh setti Abdul Gafoorr . They happily settled them in their hoses moh kawshki opposite the mosque .one family of Benjamin mairaif is settled in moh kudadad . This man is doing business of clothes in Peshawar. He has two sons Hanail Benjamin and Yushfa Benjamin and two doughtier Sara and Mazol. They are from different mothers so they quarreled with each other all the time. The eldest one Hanial Benjamin is living in other vicinity called mundi berre inside yaka toot gate. He through two time acid on his younger brother which caused his one eye fully damaged. Benjamin Mairaif has property also in mambay and Quatta. Some other Jews who are residing in Peshawar are Yuna Dadvouf Abdullah Abdul Kareem both of them are doing business of fur. Another Benjamin is also here I n Peshawar who sells chaddar (a peace of clothes traditional used by Puktoons). Two other brothers are David god and Sulman god sons of Naseer god are also doing fur business. The Jew of Peshawar city kept long beard wears loses trousers wearing traditional Jew cape on their head. Their woman are completely covered themselves in black burqa .they speaks Hebrew and Persian .after the creation of Israel some more Jew are also come from Afghanistan to Peshawar. Some prominent figure of Peshawar city have assured the than government of Pakistan that they will go back to Afghanistan. But, they don’t do that and instated of going back they migrated to Israeli via Peshawar. in the result is that their Pakistani sureties are facings court and put themselves in jeopardy one of these Jew is Seven god son of Naseer god who came to Peshawar in June 1949 .In Peshawar they don’t have any synagogue they observed their religion and don’t do any work on Saturday .They have a peace of land for their graveyard which one of the Jew David marziouf bought from a member of kawja family in 1932. But today this land is under cultivations and no sign of any grave is there. This land is transfers back to one of the member of that family through a court decree in 1973.In the walled city of Peshawar in almost in every street on every second house there is David star but they are no concern with Jew because these buildings are made by Hindus and this is a local traditional Peshawari style of windows.on one of the site is saying that these jews are migrated by force from peshawar in some one grand father arrange this exdouse isnot true . the pshawari are very friendly to them not harm any one of them during thier stay at peshawar. they opt for migration to isrial by themselves not force by Pakistani govt. Written by humayun_m_pk@yahoo.com
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  12. I have read about Lilly solomon and her father Solomon here somewher.I was very much acquainted with Lilly and her father.I till 1978 alongwith organize shows and stage dramas under the banner Eastern Art Circle with Moosa Narejo of Excise Department Shadab Arts Academy with Sarwar Hanif retd VP HBL and myself retired AVP and Manager Habib Bank. Lilly was a very slim and beautiful girl.A very good dancer on INDO PAK tones..Many a time she came to my home in Nazimabad with others doing rehearsals there.I have forgotten the name of Gujrati boy with whom she was often seen. He was doing tea business in Juna Market at the intersection of Napier Road and ::lawrance Road. They were married when the first a gujrati film MAA TE MAA was lodged. The film was flopped but I think Lilly and that gujrati guy..did acting in it. HER father went to Israel and reported,dead, Lilly used to speak Gujrati.Many of my friends in Karach are very familiar with her and must be knowing much of hers.. She was very friendly, MASROOR DURRANI PAKDURRANI@HOTMAIL.Com
    CHICAGO

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  13. First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Gilani for posting the information on the history of the Jewish synagogue in Karachi. Short, as it is, it provided a valuable memory and connection to my home country.

    Next, I would like to give my own story. I am a child of a Gujrathi-Sindhi Ismaili father and a Bene-Israel Mahashtrian Jewish mother. What I have to relate is based on the memories of my grandparents, from both sides. I was born in Pakistan, after the Partition and then lived in India, East Africa, UK and finally USA.

    When Pakistan was founded, Mr. Moh. A. Jinnah ( The Quaid-e-Azam ) never wanted an Islamic state. He merely envisioned a secular state, with a Muslim majority – for he knew that all minorities had a role to play, and that they had expertise in particular niches like business, education, health care, industry, farming etc., which were crucial for the development of a new country. He also tried his best, ( with limited results – ) to provide for the safety of those minorities. Unfortunately, his efforts were not successful, and then he died, too early, ….. prematurely for the country’s history and growth. My maternal grandfather Mr. Samson Divekar, was a prominent businessman, in Karachi, with a global export-import business and a personal banker to many industrialists, and also had a chain of pawn-shops. Although usury and interest is forbidden under Islam, he had over a thousand muslim customers and borrowers, and he provided them with a valuable source of credit, especially unsecured credit. He never had a business dispute in the 22 years that he was in business. But after the death of the Quaid, minorities became a target for persecution in Karachi, and this scared not only the Jews but also the Ismailis. I have a letter from the Quaid, where he offered my grandfather, a Directorship on the board of The Bank of Pakistan in 1948 – which he declined.

    Intolerance is a cancer, which attacks one organ, which if not checked, will spread to the rest of the body. Hence both my grandparents and their families, hurriedly made efforts to leave Pakistan,as soon as possible, for they felt, after what had happened to the Hindus would eventually turn upon themselves. Unfortunately, current events have proved them right, and I weep at the result. The end result of my journey is that, although nobody threw my parents and grandparents out, and they left on their own, their remaining options were not very pleasant.

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  14. AFTER READING YOUR ARTICILE ,I WAS SO SUPPRISED TO SEE
    THE KARACHI SYNAGOGUE MAGEN SHALOM WHICH WAS BUILT BY
    MY GREAT GRAND FATHER DAVID SOLOMON UMADAKER AND MY
    GRAND FATHER GERSHONE UMADAKER .I EVEN SAW THE PHOTO
    OF MY ELDER BROTHER GERSON GERSHONE BAR MITZVA IN KARACHI
    THANK YOU FOR ALL WHAT YOU HAVE PUT IN..REUBEN GERSHONE
    UMADAKER…..EMAIL gershonr1@gmail.com

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  15. Recently thousands of documents have been discovered in the Old KMC Building on Bunder Road (M A Jinnah Road) going back more than a 100 years. These documents tell a story about Karachi and its residents. This treasure is soon going to be lost as there are no resources to restore and maintain these documents. Anyone interested in restoring and having a look at these documents is requested to contact Heritage Foundation in Karachi.

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    1. Hello Asya, I got in touch with the great grandson of James Strachan, the engineer who designed empress market, tower, tram system of karachi, sewage system, etc, He is hoping that a pic of James exists somewhere, hopefully in those kmc records; also he is looking for the location of two of James’ sons who died and were buried in Karachi, probably late 1800’s or early 1900’s pls reply here if possible. thanks, wayne

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  16. its sad , one should not had sold Magen Shalome a hertage . Live with the past and the nations those who disregards their past can not survive.centuries old tidal observatries at Katchi Lane and port depart Manora island had been destroyed and no department bothered to preserve them . the great sybols of our histoory are vanishing . Do something about Mules Mansion at Keamari .

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