In the previous posts we've been talking about the synagogue of Nevatim in the Negev,
the one built by the resident Jews, who originally immigrated from Cochin, India.
Now come up the stairs to the women's section of the synagogue.
What surprised me to hear from Miri, our guide, was that in their Cochin tradition, women have long been taught to read Torah!
So the Torah scroll in taken from the holy ark on the main floor and brought up to the upper gallery to this table where the Torah portion of the day is chanted for all to hear--both the women in the balcony and the men below ("out of the depths I cried to You . . . ").
I am not saying that women chant the Torah on Shabbat (our guide did not say that), but with their learning it is natural for them to want to be close to the scroll.
The vertical blinds of the mechitsa screen look quite see-through and easy to open, if the women are so inclined.
Our tour group from Meitar learned a lot of good things at Nevatim, both in their synagogue and at their Cochin Jewish Heritage Center.
UPDATE: The Times of Israel just now published this article about a new historical novel about the Baghdadi Jews of Kolkata (Kolkata/Calcutta being on the opposite side of the Indian sub-continent from Cochin).