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History of The Jews in The Philippines

The First Jews

1600s - 1924

The first recorded history of Jews settling in The Philippines were Spanish Jews, The Marranos, in the 1600s.


Afterwards families started arriving in the 1870s, the first of which were the Levy family from Alsace. 


Following World War I Many Jewish refugees escaped to The Philippines from Russia attempting to escape discrimination. In 1922, the Jewish community formally established itself and in 1924 the first synagogue was built and named Temple Emil. 

The First Jews
World War II

World War II

As the Nazi regime rose to power and mass persecution of Jews spread throughout Europe, many Filipinos became concerned with the situation. During Kristelnacht a protest was organized in Ateneo Field House condemning the acts of Nazi tyranny against Jews.


Afterwards the Frieder family, who were presidents of the synagogue during that time period, and were cigar manufacturers, with the help of President of the Philippines Manuel L. Quezon, U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines, Paul V. McNutt and Major Dwight D. Eisenhower developed a plan to save Jews from the Holocaust. At the time the plan was to accept tens of thousands of Jews from Germany and Austria and permanently settle them in The Philippines. Since the Jews had nowhere to stay upon arrival in the Philippines, President Manuel Quezon offered his land in Marikina to the Jews to stay. 


The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), donated $70,000 to the efforts. 


When the Japanese invaded The Philippines in 1942, the influx of Jewish refugees stopped and many of the refugees who were already in The Philippines were taken to internment camps in The Philippines.


The Synagogue in Manila was completely destroyed during the war and used as an ammo dump by the Japanese

After WWII

After WWII - Present Day

After the war with the help of prominent Jewish families in The Philippines and the US Army, the Synagogue was rebuilt and renamed to Beit Yaakov.


To Honor the first temple's name the social hall in the current Synagogue was named Bachrach Hall after Emil Bachrah.


After the war, many families who had settled in The Philippines immigrated to the U.S. or to Israel leaving a small community behind. 


In 1982 the Synagogue was moved from Taft Avenue to Makati, where it stands today. Currently the community is a mixture of; Americans, Israeli’s and expats from an array of nationalities. 

After WWII

More Information

Films and Books

Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror by Frank Ephraim

Rescue in The Philippines (Film)

'An Open Door' Film by Sonny Izon

'The Doors of Chai' Children's Cartoon by PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association)

Philippine Sanctuary: A Holocaust Odyssey by Bonnie M. Harris

Quezon's Game (Film)

The Last Manilaners (Docu-Series)

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