Tiny Jewish Community in Indonesia Reported Facing Uncertain Future

An uncertain future in a Moslem country growing steadily hostile to the West is causing concern among the handful of Jews left in the Indonesian city of Surabaya where, before the Second World War, a Jewish community numbering about 1,000 once flourished, it was reported today in the New York Times.

Comprising only 13 families today, with some 60 men, women and children, the Surabaya Jewish community, the report says, maintains a single synagogue used on major Jewish holy days with Friday evening services held at the home of the president of the community, Charles Mussry, a 46-year-old Jew of Iraqi descent. The community, comprising virtually the only Jews left in Indonesia, has not had the services of a rabbi since the establishment of the Malaysian Federation two years ago. Before that, a Singapore rabbi would be flown to Surabaya for major events.

Although the Jews of Surabaya are free to practice their religion and although their community is officially recognized by the Indonesian Government, they are becoming increasingly uncomfortable in an Asian society that is rejecting western influence. In addition to anxiety over their future economic status, the Surabayan Jews are concerned about the education of their children. About half of the Jews who left the community after the Second World War went to Israel with the remainder scattered in the United States, England and Australia.

NEXT STORY