Davvid Levi (42), a merchant navy engineer, now a German passport holder, is now busy completing legal formalities before migrating while his family has already left India after taking up citizenship of various countries, including the US.
“Nine of us renounced our Indian passports and took citizenship of other countries. I hope to leave in a month’s time,” said Levi while interacting with DT Next
at what remains of a synagogue in South Chennai. The family had, until recently, considered Chennai a peaceful home. But an undesirable incident in June from tenants of property in Besant Nagar forced them to consider moving out of India. The family had rented out the premises to the son of a senior IPS official and the son of a politician to run a catering unit. When they heard of unsavoury incidents taking place there, Levi asked the tenants to vacate, which led to threats and attack. “A video of me bleeding from my head had gone viral among Jewish community members across the globe and we were advised to move out to a safer country. My wife and two children were sheltered by the Chennai US consulate after the attack,” Levi noted. David’s great grandparents were victims of the holocaust.
Being traders in high-value gems, the family has a shared history with Fort St George and Rippon Building. His grandmother, Racheal Halevi Cohen, taught physics in IIT Madras and took initiatives to set up a synagogue in Besant Nagar after the synagogue on Isaac street was demolished. “Annadurai and a few relatives were neighbours. They stayed in the same building when the DMK was formed at 7, Coral Merchant Street. Both the DMK and AIADMK were close to us.
My daughters were named by Jayalalithaa madam,” recalled Levi. “My mother Sarah still hopes to return here so she can be laid to rest alongside her ancestors.”