Bani Israel Graveyard; the only Jewish Cemetery in Karachi.

A couple of years ago, I visited the only Jewish graveyard in Karachi to photograph it for someone’s research.

This graveyard that once held 5,000 graves lies right opposite the Mewa Shah Graveyard around the Haji Camp area. Today, there are apparently only 300 graves that have survived. The caretaker told me they try to keep the entrance that bears the Star of David hidden from the general public by throwing an old cloth over it. He doesn’t want to draw attention of the Muslim mourners towards an already controversial and slowly deteriorating place.

©Khaula Jamil

I had permission to photograph the final resting place of some of the last Jews to have lived in Pakistan. Many of the tombstones are in Hebrew, but some have English poems and notes remembering loved ones.

“Life’s Race Well Run
Life’s Work Well Done
Life’s Crown Well Won
Now Comes Rest”

“A light from our house has gone
A voice we love is stilled
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled”

©Khaula Jamil

The age when they died were mentioned. Professions were mentioned. Who they left behind were mentioned. Standing there, I couldn’t help but imagine their lives with the bits of information on these tombstones. I found it sad and yet fascinating;

What history this city has! So diverse and rich and how unfortunate that so much of it is falling apart and under perpetual threat of disappearing forever.

©Khaula Jamil

Right around the time I photographed the cemetery, well-known architect Arif Hasan had proposed this site officially be declared protected heritage by the provincial government. Though that never happened, the good part is that God is still is protecting this site from the qabza mafia perhaps thanks to the prayers of that one lady who still makes an annual trip from America to visit her grandmother’s grave.

©Khaula Jamil

Heritage is important. Roots are important. Ancestry is important. It’s essential to understand the past, dissect it and really look inwards in order to carve the future. We don’t do that enough or honestly in Pakistan. I often wonder where are we headed when there is such little reflection. 

#karachi #jews #history #heritage #pakistan #graveyards #streamofconciousness