Jewish museum opens in Singapore

A  museum  has opened in Singapore to showcase the 200-year history of the Jewish community, founded by Baghdadi Jews. Among its prominent figures was Sir David Marshall, who served as chief minister  in the 1950s, and Jacob Ballas, chairman of the Stock Exchange. Report in the Straits Times: 

Inside the new Jewish museum (Photo: Desmond Foo)

SINGAPORE – Few know that the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street, meaning “Shield of Our Fathers”, is Asia’s second-largest and South-east Asia’s oldest synagogue.

Built in 1878, the initially one-storey building has over the years been made bigger and become the unofficial centre of Jewish activity here.

On Thursday (Dec 2), it hosted a ceremony that launched the country’s first Jewish museum – the Jews of Singapore Museum, which traces the 200-year history of the Jews here.

Located on the first floor of the synagogue’s neighbour, the Jacob Ballas Centre, it covers the community’s arrival in Singapore soon after it became a British colony in the early 1800s to March this year, when a 20-year-old man was detained for planning a knife attack at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue.

The narrative it tells pauses at several key Jewish figures in Singapore’s history. A panel is dedicated to Mr David Marshall, who was chief minister of pre-independent Singapore from 1955 to 1956, and a room to Mr Jacob Ballas, benefactor of the Jacob Ballas centre and chairman of the Malaysia and Singapore Stock Exchange from 1964 to 1967.

Other notable names include former Supreme Court judge Joseph Grimberg, pioneering surgeon Yahya Cohen and Sir Manasseh Meyer, a prominent businessman whose name adorns one of the buildings at the National University of Singapore’s Bukit Timah campus.




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