Born in Baghdad and educated in Calcutta, Manasseh Meyer came to Singapore in 1861 and continued his English education in St Joseph's Institution. In 1864, he returned to Calcutta to work with his uncle in business as well as to learn Hebrew and Arabic. He returned to Singapore in 1873 and founded his own import-export business.
Meyer gave generously to charity within and without his community. He started the Manasseh Meyer Trust that benefited educational institutions. He was one of the major donors to Raffles College, one of the two institutions of tertiary learning that subsequently formed the University of Malaya. He also contributed towards the war effort from 1915 to 1919.
He was the Jewish community's most generous benefactor, being responsible for the setting up of its two synagogues — Maghain Aboth Synagogue and Chesed-El Synagogue. Chesed-El was built for the use of his family and others.
Together with three other wealthy Jews, Meyer bought a large piece of land in Moulmein Road for $5,407.12 for the Jewish Cemetery. Meyer also bought the adjoining piece of land for $8,681.40 and, after reserving a plot for himself and his second wife, Rebecca, presented it to the community. His wife Rebecca died in 1915.
The Sir Manasseh Meyer International School, originally "Ganenu Learning Centre", was renamed in his honor and caters to children from 18 months to grade 7.
- Lee Geok Boi (2002), The Religious Monuments of Singapore, Landmark Books, ISBN 981-3065-62-1