Home Insider Myanmar’s Only Jewish Synagogue is Honored for its Historical Significance

Myanmar’s Only Jewish Synagogue is Honored for its Historical Significance

The Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue, located in downtown Yangon, joins the list of a few ancient structures in the city to don a commemorative blue plaque on its exterior symbolizing its historical and cultural significance. The plaque was unveiled at a ceremony on June 9, held by the Yangon Heritage Trust, a non-governmental organization that seeks to preserve historical structures around the city. The event was attended by senior officials from the Yangon Region Government and Israeli and Canadian ambassadors to Myanmar.

Located at 26th street in central Yangon, the synagogue is the last remaining Jewish place of worship in the city – not to mention, Myanmar’s only synagogue. Built between 1893 to 1896, the Jewish house of worship reflects the existence of a Jewish community that flourished under the British colonial era. Jewish immigrants began arriving in Myanmar in the early 19th century, coming predominantly from the Middle East. They settled mostly in central Yangon and proved to be powerful players in the city’s business sector. The Jewish population in Myanmar reached its highest in the early 20th century with around 2,500 persons. Currently, however, there are only an estimated 20 Jewish people residing in Yangon. The two-story building is now in the custody of the synagogue’s chief trustee Sammy Samuels, whose family has maintained the worship house for decades since his great-grandfather’s time.

Yangon Heritage Trust was founded by Dr. Thant Myint-U, a prominent historian, in 2012 as an effort to preserve Yangon’s colonial architecture and heritage amidst the booming urban construction. Twelve 0ther buildings have been honored with blue plaques, including Yangon City Hall.