History of the Jews in Thailand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Chabad House in Bangkok.

The history of Jews in Thailand began in the 18th century with the arrival of Baghdadi Jewish families and Jewish peoples from Europe during Napoleonic era (1799-1815).


During World War II, Thailand was a part of the Axis, [1] however it has had friendly diplomatic relations with Israel since 1954.[2]

The Jewish community of Thailand today is mostly made up of the Ashkenazi descendants of refugees from Russia and the Soviet Union. There are also Persian Jews who emigrated during the 1970s and 1980s to escape the Iranian Revolution.

The country's permanent Jewish community, with over 1,000 members, is mainly located in Bangkok[3] (especially in the Khaosan Road area). There are also small groups of Jews with synagogues in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui. During Jewish holidays, they are joined by vacationing Jews, especially from Israel and the United States.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Rabbis who were Chaplains in the United States Air Force served as the Rabbi for the Jewish Association of Thailand. They conducted services on Friday Evening, Shabbat morning, the High Holidays and Festivals.

At the request of two of Bangkok's synagogues, Beth Elisheva and Even Chen, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor took up residence as the first permanent rabbi in Bangkok, in 1993. He has been in Thailand since 1993 (when the Jewish Association of Thailand was founded), and is a member of Chabad. He was joined in 1995 by Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm, also of Chabad.


Chabad of Bangkok is a small Chabad House in Bangkok,[4] catering primarily to young Israeli tourists.[5] It was an important center of disaster relief after the 2004 tsunami.[6] It serves Sabbath meals to hundreds of Jewish travelers every week, including during Jewish religious festivals such as Passover.[7] Due to security concerns in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, entry is restricted to the Jewish community.[4]

Jewish education[edit]

A complete range of Jewish education services is available in Bangkok, from kindergarten through high school. This includes a recently opened Orthodox yeshiva. After years of government refusal, permission has also been granted for the establishment of a Jewish cemetery next to the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery in Bang Kho Laem.[8]


  1. ^ "Thailand declares war on the United States and United Kingdom". History. A&E Television Networks.
  2. ^ "The Jewish Community of Thailand". Beit Hatfutsot Open Databases Project. The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot.
  3. ^ The Jewish Community of Thailand
  4. ^ a b Ehrlich, Richard (December 11, 2009). "Inside Bangkok's Chabad House". CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  5. ^ Ettinger, Yair (December 3, 2010). "World Wide Web". Haaretz. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  6. ^ Wilhelm, Nehemia (January 6, 2005). "Report From Phuket Faith and Tsunami: A Rescue Mission". Jewish Journal. Retrieved April 22, 2023.
  7. ^ Fishkoff, Sue (November 30, 2008). "Rebbe's army soldiers on". The Forward. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  8. ^ Lazarus, Baila (January 2004). "The Jews of Khao San Road". Orchid Designs. Archived from the original on July 19, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2013.

External links[edit]