The Last Jews in India and Burma

By Nathan Katz and Ellen S. Goldberg (1988)

Jewish population is about 20 in 2001. By legend, these Jews are descendants of the tribe of Menasha. “Jews from Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East first settled in Yangon (Rangoon) early in the 18th century and established a Sephardi community there. In 1896, they erected the Musameah Yeshua Synagogue on land donated by the government. By the outbreak of World War II, there were over 2,000 Jews in the country. The great majority fled in advance of the Japanese assault and were evacuated to Britain, India and a number of other countries. Only a small number returned after the country was liberated. Over the years, due to emigration and assimilation, the remaining Jewish population dwindled, and today the community is on the verge of extinction.” [February 2003] Burma’s Small Jewish Community in 2000 [September 2002]

“Moses Samuel, the custodian of Myanmar’s only synagogue, and one of only 20 Jews left in what was formerly called Burma, intends to remain in the country and keep the job he inherited from his father. The Jews of Myanmar–who before World War II numbered more than 2,500–are descendants of 19th-century immigrants from Iraq, Europe, and India who arrived either with the British colonial army, or as teak, rice, or cotton traders.” Source: Dateline World Jewry, July 2001.