JEWISH ISLAND LIFE SINCE EARLY 1800s
JEWS first came to Singapore in the early 19th century when Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a trading post. Most were of Baghdadi origin and had emigrated from India.
In 1840, the community established its first synagogue on what is still known as “Synagogue Street”.
The philanthropist Sir Manasseh Meyer (1846-1930) built a synagogue in 1905 — Chesed El, on his private estate.
When the Second World War broke out, there were more 1,500 Jewish inhabitants of Singapore, many of whom were interned when Japan invaded in 1942. After the war, a large number emigrated to Australia, England, the United States and Israel. By the late 1960s, the community had dwindled to approximately 450.
Today, there are approximately 2,000 Jews living in Singapore. Both the Maghain Aboth (built in 1878) and Chesed El synagogues are active, as is a Progressive community, the United Hebrew Congregation.