The Jewish Welfare Board

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Maghain Aboth

24/26 Waterloo St, Singapore, 187968

The first record of Jewish existence in Singapore is found in the Jewish Synagogue Act.

It reads that a piece of land was leased "on a pepper-corn rent for the purpose of erecting a synagogue."

It is to the Trustees, comprising Joseph Dwek, Nassim Joseph Ezra and Ezra Ezra Ezekiel, that we owe our establishment as a Community as we know it today.

It was through their initiative that the first synagogue was erected in the Boat Quay area, and till today, the street in which the synagogue was built bears the name "Synagogue Street" although the synagogue itself is no longer there.

The Trustees also, in 1841, made for a lease of a plot of land in Orchard Road for a cemetery, thus making provision for both the living and the dead.

By 1879, the community had increased greatly to a total of 172 members, 116 males and 56 females. New Trustees, A. Solomon, Joshua M.Joshua and Manasseh Meyer had, meanwhile, been appointed to serve with Joseph Dwek Cohen. They realised that many of the congregants were now living in the new residential area around Waterloo Street, and it was time to consider purchasing more land on which to build a new and larger synagogue. Negotiations proved difficult, but thanks mainly to the intervention of Manasseh Meyer, the old synagogue was finally sold and a plot of land on Waterloo Street was acquired form the government, thereafter becoming the site of our present synagogue.

On 4th April 1878, the service of consecration was conducted for the synagogue, marking the start of a memorable first Hundred Years for the Jewish community of Singapore.

Some changes proved necessary within the first few years of the synagogue's history, like the provision of seating capacity for the ladies, which was absent in the original architecture.

Manasseh Meyer, at his own expense, erected a simple gallery for them. Because of its originally simple design, it proved inadequate owning to its make-shift nature using wooden slats through which the ladies could be seen all too clearly!

So some years later, a solidly constructed gallery was added to the main building, which is still in use today.

One hundred years after the consecration of the Maghain Aboth Synagogue, centenary celebrations were under way to mark the 100 years of the synagogue's existence. The occasion was graced by the undoubted icon of Singapore Jewry, the late David Marshall, while the main attraction as the seven-branched Menorah made of gold-coloured aluminium standing a proud 1.8metres tall at the entrance of the synagogue.

Today the synagogue continues to be the beacon of light in our Community and remains the focal point of all religious events.

It was officially gazetted as a national monument by the Preservation of Monuments Board on February 27, 1998.

Having undergone extensive renovations The Synagogue is now more beautiful than ever and is counted among Singapore’s most noted historical monuments.

In 2004, the community celebrated the 125th anniversary of Maghain Aboth and we look forward to the next milestone!

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