The Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue is Myanmar’s last remaining Jewish house of worship. During colonial times, Yangon had a thriving Jewish community of over 2,500 people, most of whom had followed the teak wood trade to Asia. But today, after the Japanese occupation during World War Two and the long years of military rule that followed, only a handful of Jewish people remain. The whole weight of Myanmar’s Jewish history is now carried on the shoulders of one man: Moses Samuels, the keeper of the old synagogue, who is hopeful that his community will recover.
The synagogue was constructed during the late 19th century and stands in a colonial-era neighborhood next to mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, churches, hawker stalls, stores and markets. The building itself is a beautiful blue, white and gold house with a high ceiling, stained glass windows and old wooden benches. Although it is still a functioning synagogue with regular services, it now serves as a reminder of a multicultural past and has become somewhat of a meeting spot for several neighboring religious groups. While those groups often don’t get along very well elsewhere in the world, even in most other parts of the country, they come together in this synagogue in a rare display of multi-religious friendship, to help each other out or celebrate festivals together.
The Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue is located on Nr. 85, 26th street in Central Yangon and opens daily from 9am to 12pm. During Jewish holidays and on Saturdays, the synagogue is open until evening.