AMID the bustle and crumbling masonry of downtown Yangon, there is
one building that likes to keep up appearances: Myanmar’s only
synagogue. On a narrow street, tucked behind a lot of paint shops,
stands the splendid Musmeah Yeshua. Dating from the 1890s, it is a
reminder of a lost world and an almost vanished community. It also
provides a test of how far Myanmar can change.
Many of Myanmar’s Jews came from Iraq in the 19th century to trade
and set up businesses. What was then Rangoon was a flourishing port of
the British empire, and the Jewish community became influential. At its
peak, it numbered around 3,000. The city even had a Jewish mayor.
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