Dutch Jews played an active role in the development of the so-called Spice Islands. In the 1850’s there were at least 20 Jewish families of Dutch and German origin living in Jakarta and other parts of the country. However, most Jews had tenuous ties to Judaism and attempts to organize a community came to naught.
1992 In successive years Jews from the Netherlands, Baghdad and Aden settled in Indonesia. By the 1920’s there were several thousand Jews in the country and communities were established in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung and elsewhere. In the 1930’s Jews fleeing the rise of Nazism also found sanctuary in Indonesia. Jews, particularly those with Dutch citizenship, suffered greatly during the Japanese occupation.
After the war, and later, upon the country’s independence, nearly all Jews left the country. A few Jewish families, all of Iraqi origin, live in Surabaya. They continue to maintain a small synagogue, but there is neither a rabbi nor a teacher. There are also individual Jews living in Jakarta.
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