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Published on Jul 20, 2010
In 1895, the first Jew, Ezekiel Menassah emigrated from Baghdad and settled in Penang, Malaysia. For more than 30 years, Menassah remained the only Jew in to the country, continuing to observe Jewish holidays and keep kashrut. Following World War I, more Jews began to settle in Malaysia. Then during World War II, the Jewish community was evacuated to Singapore. By 1963, only 20 Jewish families remained in Malaysia.
Today, approximately 100 Jews reside in Malaysia. On the island of Penang there is a tiny congregation and a cemetery in George Town in Jewish Street (Jalan Yahudi). The Jewish cemetery in Penang is considered to be the oldest single cemetery in the country. The oldest legible gravestone in the cemetery dates to 1805 and the latest to 1976. The cemetery also includes the grave of a Jewish British officer killed during World War II. Most of the Jews living in Malaysia are refugees from Russia.