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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews on the Philippines

Spanish Inquisition - Jewish immigration since 1870s and during NS times - 10% war victims 1944-1945

from: Philippines; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 13

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)




island republic off the coast of S.E.

[Some Jews on Philippine islands - Spanish Inquisition and Jews from the Philippines at stake in Mexico City]

Asia. Marranos are known to have lived in Manila among the early Spanish settlers and they soon came under the surveillance of the Spanish Inquisition. The first public auto-da-fé was held in Manila in 1580, but it is not known whether there were Jews among the seven persons accused. In 1593 two Marrano brothers, Jorge and Domingo Rodriguez, old-established residents of Manila, appeared at an auto-da-fé held in Mexico City because the Inquisition did not have an independent tribunal in the Philippines. They were sentenced to imprisonment. At least eight Marranos from the Philippines are known to have been tried by the Inquisition by the end of the 17th century.

[last quarter of the 19th century: significant Jewish immigration from Alsace, Middle East, Russia and Central Europe]

Significant Jewish immigration to the Philippines did not begin until the last quarter of the 19th century. The first Jews known to arrive on the islands were the three brothers Levy, natives of Alsace, who went to Manila in the early 1870s to establish a jewelry business and brought additional people for their store. They were joined by groups of Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian Jews, by families from Russia and Central Europe (either directly or via Harbin and Shanghai), and by U.S. Jews in the first few decades of the 20th century. By the early 1930s the Jewish community numbered approximately 500.

[Synagogue - Jewish cemetery - Temple Emil]

The Manila congregation, organized formally in 1922, purchased land for a synagogue and a burial plot, and in 1924 erected Temple Emil, named after a benefactor, Emil Bachrach.

[1933-1945: Philippines become country for refugees from NS persecution]

As a result of strenuous activity by the community, the friendliness of the then governor of the Philippine Commonwealth, Manuel Quezon y Molina (who donated some land for the purpose of refugee settlement), encouragement by the U.S. authorities, and the lack of better alternatives, the Philippines became a center for refugees from Nazi persecution. By the end of World War II the Jewish community had grown to more than 2,500. Among the refugees were a rabbi, Joseph Schwartz, and a cantor for the community.

[1944-1945: Japanese misuse the synagogue - 10% death rate in war fights]

Late 1944 and the first two months of 1945 were calamitous for the Jewish community. The Japanese had used the synagogue and adjacent hall as an ammunition store, and both buildings were completely destroyed in the fighting. Ten percent of the Jews fell victim to atrocities perpetrated by the retreating Japanese or to the shelling of the advancing Americans. After the war the community reorganized, and its temple was rebuilt.

In 1968 the community numbered approximately 250, about a quarter of whom were Sephardim. About 80 children attended the religious school.

The majority of Jews in the Philippines are not permanent residents of the country, but work on contract with U.S. companies, diplomatic missions, and other assignments. Only a handful live outside of Manila. U.S. military personnel stationed at bases in the islands are served by a Jewish chaplain at Clark Air Base, 50 mi. (c. 80 km) north of Manila.

[W.Z. / E.E.S.]> (col. 395)

Relations with [[Zionist]] Herzl Israel.

The Republic of the Philippines was the only Asian country to vote for the partition of Palestine in 1947, and it recognized the State of Israel in 1949. Relations between the two countries have been cordial. Formal diplomatic ties developed from the exchange of honorary consuls and honorary consuls-general in the early 1950s, to nonresident ministers in the later 1950s, the establishment of an Israel legation in Manila in 1958, and finally to the appointment of resident (col. 395)

ambassadors in Manila and Tel Aviv in 1962. An aviation agreement was signed between the two countries in 1951, a friendship treaty was contracted in 1958, several consular agreements and a technical-aid agreement were signed in 1964. Technical cooperation includes the participation of Israel experts in the establishment of a model village.

Israel has sent experts to the Philippines in the service of various UN agencies, and Philippine trainees in community development, agriculture, and cooperation studied in Israel.



-- G.A. Kohut; in: AJHSP, 12 (1904), 145-56
-- N. Robinson: Jewish Communities of the World (1963), 46
-- H.C. Lea: The Inquisition in the Spanish Dependencies (1908)> (col. 396)

Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Jews on the
                          Philippines, vol. 13, col. 395-396
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Jews on the Philippines, vol. 13, col. 395-396