JERUSALEM (Dec. 25)
Israel’s Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Moshe Dayan, made a report on the country’s security at a meeting of the Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. Gen. Dayan’s report was in the nature of a farewell to the committee on the eve of his departure abroad.
Shimon Peres, director general of the Israel Defense Ministry was scheduled to leave today for Burma. There he will join Maj. Gen. Moshe Dayan, Israel Army Chief of Staff, who is to visit Rangoon as a guest of the Burmese Defense Ministry.
In connection with Gen. Dayan’s visit to Rangoon, it was reported here today that Jewish life in Burma dates back to the 19th century, and that the oldest synagogue in Rangoon, Musmeah Yeshua, was founded in 1857 by Jews of Bagdad origin. At the time of the Japanese occupation early in 1942, about 2, 000 Jews, the bulk of the community fled to India, mostly to Calcutta. Only some 150 Jews remained in Burma. After 1945 about 300 to 400 Jews returned from Calcutta to rebuild the community. Xenophobia soon restricted the activities of the Jews to such an extent that they began to emigrate to English-speaking countries and to Israel.
Income from a trust fund enables the dwindling community, through many vicissitudes, to maintain its synagogue and an Israeli Club, where cultural and social functions are held. That this Jewish community is disappearing is attested by the fact that 42 Torah Scrolls were sent from Rangoon to Israel in 1955. Anti-Jewish riots staged by the “Suez-Committee” in Rangoon in November, 1956, gave new impetus to the emigration trend. At present there are only about 25 Jewish families residing in Rangoon. In addition there are at present in the capital members of the Israel Commission for technical advice.