Ruby Daniel’s Ruby of Cochin: an Indian Jewish Woman Remembers Essay

Ruby Daniel’s Ruby of Cochin: an Indian Jewish Woman Remembers Essay

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My paper will attempt to critically analyze the representation of history and identity in Ruby Daniel’s memoir, Ruby of Cochin: An Indian Jewish Woman Remembers, published in 2002. It is a landmark work since it being the first memoir “written by a Jewish woman from the Indian community of Cochin” (Irene Eber). Situated within the context of Cochin Jews, Daniel attempts to interlink a series of personal lived histories with the larger national histories. Using the case study of Cochin Jews, the writer examines the hitherto socio-cultural historical representations and their underlying political agenda. Through her memoir Daniel critically addresses questions like, who benefits from claiming authentic representations of Jewish community in Kerala? What does authentic Jewish identity means? The writer tries to answer these questions by focussing upon Cochin Jewish history and the issue of identity.
Despite the fact that there were some early and contemporary literary endeavours on the Jewish community in Kerala, Daniel does not completely places her trust on them. She warns the readers that, “Most of the stories written by modern writers are the stories told by the so-called white Jews, the ones who brought this “slavery” craze and felt themselves to be superior to other Jews in Cochin” (Daniel 11). In her introduction to this work, Brabara Johnson elucidates on how the writer in her memoir contest the established notion of “freed slaves” or “meshuhrarim” in the Jewish community of Kerala and declares that the book “provides a particularly important corrective to the historical record” (Daniel xxiii). The Jewish community in India comprises of the Cochin Jews, the Bene Israel and the Baghdadis. Being the smalle...

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...ula. “Gender and the Shaping of Modern Jewish Identities”. Jewish Social Studies 8.2/3 (Winter/Spring 2002): 153-61. Web. 28. Nov. 2013.
Nissimi, Hilda. “Memory, Community, and the Mashhadi Jews During the Underground Period”. Jewish Social Studies 9.3 (Spring/Summer 2003): 76-106. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.
Park‐Fuller, Linda M. “Performing absence: The staged personal narrative as testimony”. Text and Performance Quarterly 20.1 (2000): 20-42. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
Roland, Joan. Rev. of Kashrut, Caste and Kabbalah: The Religious Life of the Jews of Cochin by Nathan Katz and EllenS. Goldberg. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 70.1 (2007): 181-3. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
Watson, Christine. “Believe Me: Acts of Witnessing in Aboriginal Women’s Autobiographical Narratives”. Journal of Australian Studies 24.64 (2000): 142-52. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

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