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11 Social and Cultural Life

The Judean Club (Social Club): A Note by Flower Silliman

The Judean Club

by Flower Silliman

The Judean Club started in 1929, with Lady Ezra its first President. The Club sought to provide a social and cultural center for young Jewish people. It was first housed on Kydd Street but was moved to 3 Madge Lane in the 1930’s. Today on those premises of our social club stands a mall called Treasure Island.

I clearly remember the Club on Madge Lane. It was on the ground floor of a two storey house. On the top floor lived the family of Sonny Ezra.

The Club had a large hall that was used for functions and dancing, and had a lounge or reading room which was used for community meetings. There was also a billiard room, a bar and a card room. One sat down with friends on the long covered verandah to drink and eat snacks served from the kosher kitchen.

The Judean Club, in the heart of the residential area of the Jewish community in the 30’s through the 1960’s, was a popular rendezvous for old and young. The Club held regular programs such as Purim, Hanukkah, and other parties where community members assembled to socialize and celebrate. The annual Simchat Torah Ball was one of the most special occasions the Club organized. At this Ball a Simchat Torah Queen was chosen. Everyone looked forward to this event and a lot of betting went on for favorites – yes we were a community that loved betting and gambling and never passed up an opportunity! (Remember horse racing was a community sport!)

The card room attracted Poker, Bridge and rummy players. Though most of the players were men there were some women who played cards too. Miss Ramah Luddy was often at the Poker Table playing a hand. Many a Calcutta billiard player learned to play billiards at the Club.

The sounds of Backgammon (Towli), counters clicking on the wooden board, could be heard all along the verandah. Both old and young men loved to play Towli. Carrom was another favorite game played at the club.

Committee meetings for the Macabee, Sports Club, the Young People’s Congregation and other groups met at the Club to discuss their business and other community affairs. Ramah Luddy started two study circles there on post biblical history and Jewish literature. There were also prominent speakers who delivered lectures to the community.

During World War II Jewish soldiers in the British and American forces came to the Club and they were permitted to observe High Holidays in the building.

The Judean Club offered a range of facilities in a pleasant atmosphere in a central location for the Jewish community to enjoy. Calcutta, a City of Clubs, is still well known for its Club culture and most communities still have a thriving club presence. The Judean Club is no longer one of them. As the community dwindled it closed in the 1970’s due to a lack of members.