Jewish Mosaic of Singapore with Irene Shaland

Irene Shaland and Rabbi inside Chesed-El Synagogue

Travel to Singapore, a small city-state and one of the unique destinations in Asia for Jewish history aficionados. Discover the little-known Jewish story composed of the amazing mosaic of cultures – Baghdadi, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Armenian, and Persian.

Singapore skyline
Singapore skyline as viewed from the Gardens by the Bay. Back in October of 2019, the city was hip and cool and a non-stop “happening” spectacle: truly a city renaissance of epic proportions.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This resort includes 2,561- room – three tower hotel; casino – the world largest with over 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines; convention center; seven celebrity-chef-run restaurants; theaters; and an ice-skating rink. It has a floating on the water and four-story high Crystal Pavilions with night clubs, designer shops, and much more.

Bustling, cosmopolitan, trendy, modern, clean, and orderly, Singapore plays an important part on the world financial and political stage that seems disproportionate to its size. A country of immigrants, Singapore is called a nation of cultures. Ethnically and religiously diverse, this city-state is also a microcosm of tolerance and inclusiveness. Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Europeans live peaceful prosperous lives. They could be Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jewish, or atheists, all finding their rightful place in this amazing nation.

The Maghain Aboth Synagogue located at 24/26 Waterloo Street in the Central Area of Singapore, was built in 1878 by the early Jewish settlers, mostly merchants, who came to Singapore for business and ended up staying there. This is the oldest synagogue in Southeast Asia. 

All photos in this post are from our 2019 trip. 

About the presenter: Irene Shaland is the author of The Dao of Being Jewish and Other StoriesHer numerous magazine articles are regularly published in the US, Canada, UK, and Israel. Irene is a regular presenter at Jewish museums, educational institutions, societies, interest groups, and other venues around the country.

Learn more about Irene Shaland.

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Book of Jewish Short Stories: The Dao of Being Jewish

Cover image and about The Dao of Being Jewish book, a collection of Jewish short stories
Our new ad for Irene Shaland’s book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories”

Introducing Irene Shaland’s latest book, a collection of Jewish short stories: 

“The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories.”

Link to eBook  Edition:

Link to Paperback  Edition:

Link to Large Print  Edition:

This book is full of Jewish survival stories and fascinating tales. It shines the light on the history of Jewish communities in ten countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa.” – GTA Books.

Two and a half millennia ago, a small party of Jews explored new trading routes for King Solomon, settled in the south of India, and lived there peacefully until today. Similarly, during the ancient Roman period, many Jewish merchants traveled to China over the Silk Route and some made it their permanent home.  

Also, before the Edict of Expulsion in 1492, Sicily was home to over 50 Jewish communities, possibly numbering 50,000 people. So, how did the Diaspora bring these wandering Jews to so many places around the globe? And why did Jews live happily in India and China for centuries and not experience antisemitism, while the story of the Jews in Europe went from persecutions and massacres to unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust? Finally, why do we see the rise of antisemitism and violence again in the 21st century?

You will find answers to these questions and much more in the current edition of Irene Shaland’s artfully illustrated book The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories. She collected these fascinating stories while visiting ten countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa and interviewing the locals in their homes, synagogues, and even cemeteries. Now, Irene Shaland’s book, replete with her husband’s photos, takes you on your own exciting journey of discovery from Austria and the Czech Republic to Scandinavia, from India and China to Sicily and Sardinia, and from East Africa to Stalinist Russia.

Learn more about Irene Shaland.