The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has introduced Malayalam for the first time this semester with students already learning Telugu and Tamil among south Indian languages.
"There is a growing interest in India here and Malayalam is an important language in understanding the glorious culture of south India", Chairman of Indian Studies department at the university, Yohanan Grinshpon, told PTI.
Ophira Gamliel, who earlier translated a book, 'Oh Lovely Parrot', on Jewish women's songs in Malayalam to Hebrew and has just returned from Kerala after three years of stay working on her doctoral thesis and mastering the language, has been appointed to teach at the department.
"It sounds like a sweet language. I am enjoying learning it and hopefully will be fluent in it some day", Alex Cherniak, a student learning Malayalam said.
Cochin's Jewish community in Israel, numbering around 20,000, is thrilled at the introduction of Malayalam in the university curriculum calling it "a fitting tribute" on completing fifty years of aliyah (immigration) to Israel.
"We were unaware of this development but hope that it will help our youngsters who were born here connect to their roots", Nechemia, a Cochin Jew said.
The community takes a lot of pride in its Indian roots and also organised a cultural programme recently, attended by thousands of people, to celebrate sixty years of India's independence.