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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, visited the Israel Museum here on Wednesday for an exhibition of Indian Jewish heritage. The two leaders visited three main exhibits, according to information provided by the Indian External Affairs Ministry. The first stop was at the gallery displaying the religious and secular culture of the Jewish community in Kochi in Kerala, where one of the exhibits was a bridal dress which was later inserted in a Torah ark curtain used on Yom Kippur.
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The leaders also saw a set of Torah scrolls in silver casings which were earlier displayed in the Magen David synagogue during Simhat Torah in Kolkata. The highlight of the tour was a stop at the replica of the Kadavumbagam synagogue from Kochi, built in the 16th century. Its wooden structures, with a carved and painted ceiling and the ornate altar are placed in a room. The main wooden structure was brought in from the original synagogue.
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Two traditional Indian-Jewish singers were present to sing Jewish hymns during the visit. The synagogue has an exquisitely carved wooden structure and a painted ceiling. The section is divided into two parts -- the upper level from where women took part in prayers and the lower level. Cochin synagogues are distinct from the rest, as sections for men and women are not separated by a curtain.
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Modi arrived here on Tuesday in what is the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel since its creation 70 years ago..