Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hanukkah reception at Myanmar’s only synagogue

The 2019 Hanukkah reception was held at the Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue, Yangon’s last remaining and Myanmar’s only Jewish house of worship, yesterday.

The event was begun by the opening remark of Sammy Samuels, the head of the Jewish community in Myanmar. Then, the Israeli ambassador to Myanmar, Ronen Gil-or, delivered a speech.

The friendship between the two peoples can be traced many decades back from the photos displayed on the upstairs of the synagogue.

In one picture, you may see Myanmar’s first Prime Minister U Nu alongside Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.  One of U Nu’s daughters, Daw Than Than Nu, was among the distinguished guests at the reception.

In the colonial era, nearly 3,000 Jewish people resided in Myanmar. The number dwindled since 1941 and now there are no more than 30 Jewish people nationwide. Despite the very small population, the synagogue stands tall without the financial support of any organsations and runs solely on the funding of local Jewish people for the last 20 years. It is also a popular tourist destination, appearing third on TripAdvisor’s list of main attractions in Yangon.

The synagogue was built between 1893 and 1896 in the place of a wooden building by Baghdadi Jews in Myanmar and has some Iraqi architectural influences. The restoration was done in 2013. Yangon Heritage Trust and the Yangon regional government awarded the building a commemorative blue heritage plaque in 2016.

Jewish people pray at the synagogue from Friday night to Saturday evening every week.

Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue 
No. 85, 26th Street (lower block, closer to Mahabandula Road), Pabedan Township, Yangon.
9:30 am – 2 pm (closed on Sunday)

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