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.

Virtual lecture on Feb. 24, 2021
at 7:00 PM EST

Hosted by New City Library, New York.

Lecture is free but registration is required.

Register on library website:

Call (845) 634-4997 ext. 139 or email for additional information.

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.

Check out our Event Schedule.

jewish diaspora, travel, jewish synagogue, international travel,

Introducing Rabbi Barbara and Her Book: The Cat That Ate the Cannoli

Book cover of Rabbi Barbara's book The Cat That Ate the Cannoli

All quoted text and Images used with permission from the author, Rabbi Barbara Aiello.

“Discovering Rabbi Barbara and her book … turned a light on so many parts of my own family’s traditions, and opened my eyes to the anusim stories in my own grandparents from Calabria. I read it with tears the first time, and reread it with more tears, finding more details that I missed the first time. Thank you Rabbi Barbara! – Corbin”

“A tabby cat, an Italian confection, and a young girl on the threshold of adulthood… A family gathers atop a mountain in Calabria, Italy where hidden Jews have practiced in secret for 500 years. As a rabbi unrolls a Torah scroll, inscribed in Hebrew in 1783, the ancient words illuminate the restored sanctuary, once a hidden prayer room, now brought to life in worship and song. The Italian-American rabbi is determined to uncover the Jewish roots buried in these hills, lost through centuries of persecution and obscured by decades of misunderstanding. Faced with more questions than answers, the tenacious rabbi overcomes the obstacles thrown her way by traditional colleagues to uncover the Jewish heritage that many believe had been lost forever.” – Amazon book page.

This wonderful book “The Cat That Ate the Cannoli: Tales of the Hidden Jews of Southern Italy” is available at Amazon.

Meeting the Jewish Community of Mumbai India

Irene Shaland and guides inside the Mumbai Mogen David Synagogue

Excerpt from Irene Shaland’s book “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories.”

Jews settled in Mumbai (Bombay) in the 18th century. First, the Baghdadi arrived in the 1730s. Then, the Bene Israel began migrating from the countryside into the city in the 1740s. Today, Mumbai has the largest Jewish community in India: 3,500 to 4,000 people, most of whom are the Bene Israel. We visited two of the city’s eight synagogues: Kenesseth Eliyahoo and Magen David. Both were built by the Sassons, the wealthiest family of the Baghdadi Jews. The elegant blue structure of the Magen David Synagogue was erected by David Sasson in 1861. Hanna and Eliyahoo were waiting for us inside.

Continue reading “Meeting the Jewish Community of Mumbai India”

Discovering Jewish Connections in Sardinia


Sardinia is an island famed for its unearthly beauty. Sardinia is second only to Sicily in its size among the Mediterranean islands. Like Sicily, Sardinia attracted numerous waves of invaders: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, the Italian city-states of Pisa and Genoa, and the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon—all succeeded one another in dominating the island. The Northern Italians came last, with Garibaldi himself falling in love with the island. He chose to live the last years of his life in Carpera, Sardinia.

Continue reading “Discovering Jewish Connections in Sardinia”


Reprinted with permission of the author, Rabbi Barbara Aiello

Throughout Israel, especially in Tel Aviv, the last day of the year is “party night.” On December 31st Israelis will celebrate along with the rest of the world but instead of shouting “Happy New Year,” Israelis do something different.  As the year turns from one year to the next, Israel’s Jews will wish each other a “Happy Sylvester,” a New Year’s greeting that invokes, of all things, the name of a Catholic saint!