Israeli family traces Pune roots back to 1730 | pune news | Hindustan Times
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Israeli family traces Pune roots back to 1730

Last week, the brothers walked into the cemetery on South Main road in Koregaon Park and searched systematically for their ancestor’s grave. With hearts filled with anticipation, the brothers searched all the grave stones and after searching almost half the ground, they reached a tombstone which carried their grandfather’s name: Shalom Josef Isaac Samuel Talkar born 1831 and died on 18 Feb 1911.

pune Updated: Nov 27, 2017 15:07 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune roots,Israeli brothers,350 years
Israeli brothers Chaim Talkar (left) and Yehezkel Talkar at the Jewish Cemetery in Koregaon Park where they discovered tombstones of their ancestors.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

When you know your past and live in the present, your future will be good,” is an old Hebrew saying. Chaim Talkar and his older brother Yehezkel set out from Israel to find out more about their ancestors.

After having succeeded in 2014 in tracing their grandfather’s grave to the Jewish Cemetery at Worli, Mumbai, the brothers decided to do more research to go farther back into the family tree.

“I had to know what my roots are, from where I come, who were my forefathers,” said Chaim. With the names of his father and grandfather, the brothers got the entire family tree dating back to 1730. “We found out that our great grandfather was buried at the Pune Jewish Cemetery. Chaim Googled the location and found that it was located in Koregaon Park.

He explained that his father was an Indian before he migrated to Israel in 1956. “Jews from India are known as Bene Israelis. And even though they do not mix with the Baghdadi Jews, my father married a Baghdadi girl. He never spoke much about his life in India but when he died, we’d heard as children that he lived in Pune and knew the name of his father who died in Mumbai, so we set out on a journey to find out more about our ancestors,” he said.

In Israel, ancestral data of all Bene Israelis is easily available because Tsur, a Bene Israeli, set out to create a database of Bene Israelis years ago when he had a near death experience. After the accident, he dedicated his life to compiling the ancestry of all Bene Israelis and appealed to the community to help connect the dots. The Talkar brothers sought his help to trace their ancestors too.

Last week, the brothers walked into the cemetery on South Main road in Koregaon Park and searched systematically for their ancestor’s grave. With hearts filled with anticipation, the brothers searched all the grave stones and after searching almost half the ground, they reached a tombstone which carried their grandfather’s name: Shalom Josef Isaac Samuel Talkar born 1831 and died on 18 Feb 1911.

“I broke down,” said Yehezkel. “It was too overwhelming for me. The tomb said he was a havildar in the Maratha Light Infantry. It had his father’s name and the names of his children. He lived in Pune and died in Pune,” he added.Their search led them to the grave of their great grandmother Yohebet as well. Nearby they found the grave of their grand uncle.

“All this was too much. How many more of my forefathers this grave holds, I do not know. But I’m sure there will be more,” said Chaim.

They lit candles at all the three graves as per Jewish tradition to bring peace to their ancestors’ souls.

The Talkar brothers have a deep connection with Pune. Although Chaim’s mother was a Baghdadi Jew, she learnt to cook Indian dishes like ‘batata vada’, ‘chapatti’, ‘gulab jamun’, ‘papads’. The children have always loved Puneri food. Having traced the graves of his ancestors, he feels drawn to the city like a magnet. “I have come here every year since then. My grandfather worked at the Sassoon hospital and lived there in the staff quarters. My dad joined the army and moved to Mumbai and from there to Israel,” he said.

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 21:52 IST