No Jews in Bangladesh?
Reader comment on item: How the West Could Lose
Submitted by Joseph (Canada), Jan 24, 2012 at 15:54
This note is to Iftakhar:
Obviously you are not too well informed. there WERE Jews in Bangladesh. They were many Jewish families living in Bangladesh but almost all of them left. I am not blaming anyone here. just want to set the record straight. I was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh. my father was Jewish and so was his brother who lived in Chandraghona, Chittagong Hill Tracts. He married a Chakma king's daughter. There were Jewish families who lived in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar area, Dhaka, Rajshahi etc.
Mordecai (Mordy) Cohen is a Sephardic Jew, who was born in Bangladesh. Mordy and Jo Cohen now live in Kolkata. 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).
When the Indian subcontinent became independent from Britain in 1947, it was partitioned between India and the divided country of East and West Pakistan.
Mordy went to school in Rajshahi in the then East Pakistan and was one of the pioneers of television in Dhaka (then Dacca), which was its capital. He was an announcer and news reader in English and two local languages. Each news broadcast was accompanied by "the news, presented by Mordecai Cohen." Mordy had attended school with boys who later held important positions in the government and in the defense services. After the Six Day War in 1967, questions were raised about the Jew presenting the news. His parents, who were still living in Rajshahi, were threatened and were given police protection. He and his parents left for Calcutta in 1968.
The Bangladesh National Assembly building, a very impressive piece of architecture and the largest parliament building in the world was designed by an American, Louis Kahn - a well-known Jewish architect from Philadelphia, and that this building is considered by some to be his finest.
It is believed that there was a Jewish Synagogue in Dhaka. This old synagogue building was taken over by the then Pakistan government in the 1960s. It is still in existence but it is a Bangladesh government office now.
In Chittagong there is the World War II British and Commonwealth cemetery called WAR CEMETERY. In this immaculately kept cemetery with edge-to-edge green lawns, there is one Jewish grave with a Magen David on it, of a 19-year-old RAF sergeant from England.
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