Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue

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Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue
Musmeah Yeshua synagogue altar.jpg
Altar of the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue
Basic information
Location 85, 26th Street
Myanmar Yangon, Burma
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Edot Hamizrach
Country Myanmar
Year consecrated 1896
Status Preserved
Heritage designation 1996
Leadership Moses Samuels (b. c. 1940; d. 29 May 2015)[1]

Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue (Hebrew: בית כנסת מושמאה ישוע‎‎) is the last remaining Jewish house of worship in Downtown Yangon and Burma's only synagogue. The synagogue stands nestled between Indian paint shops and Muslim traders on a small street near the city centre. A plaque at the entrance of the building states that the present stone building which was built between 1893 – 1896 replaced an earlier, smaller wooden structure that was erected in 1854.[2] It is one of 188 sites on the Yangon City Development Council’s list of Heritage Buildings.[3] It serves the few remaining Jews of the country - mostly descendants of Sephardic Jewish Iraqis.

History[edit]

The synagogue was built for the increasing numbers of Baghdadi Jews from the Middle East, and Bene Israel and Cochini Jews from India arriving during Burma's Colonial era. The plot of land was granted by the British Colonial Government and following Burma’s independence, an extension was granted by the Burma authorities.[3]

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, the community numbered 2,500 persons. Many Jews left due to the Japanese occupation and more followed after the Burmese army seized power in 1962 where most businesses were nationalised in the 1960s and 1970s. The community once had 126 Sifrei Torah. A second synagogue, Beth El, was opened in 1932, and some 700 graves are found in the well-kept cemetery on 91st Street.

During Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, the synagogue lost its roof and sustained water damage.[4]

The current Jewish population of Myanmar, including Yangon, is less than 19, with Moses Samuels (משה בן יצחק שמואלי)[5] having died on May 29, 2015, in Yangon.[1] Surviving him are his widow, Nelly (נלי); and his children Samuel "Sammy" (שמואל בן משה), Dina (דינה בת משה), and Kaznah (גזנה בת משה) Samuels.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Leader of Myanmar’s Jewish community dies"
  2. ^ Photographers Direct: The Jewish Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue
  3. ^ a b Howley, Kerry (February 15, 2004). "Most Jews long gone, historic synagogue remains". Myanmar Times: Volume 11 , No.203. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  4. ^ Schwartz, Jason (2008-05-15). "Aid effort for Myanmar Jews". Jewish Tribune, London. p. 19. 
  5. ^ "Yangon Journal; Burmese Jew Shoulders Burden of His Heritage"

Further reading[edit]

  • Cernea, Ruth Almost Englishmen: Baghdadi Jews in British Burma, Lexington Books (2007)

External links[edit]

Photographs[edit]