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08 February 2011

Jews of Thailand

Over the years I have learned of some of the history of the Jewish people in Thailand. I knew that the earliest Jews were Sephardic Jews who came from Baghdad in the 1600's. Most of them lived in the area of Bangkok.

Later, the community increased as some Ashkenazic families came from Russia. In the 1970's and 80's they were joined by Persian Jews who were fleeing the persecution they were receiving in Iran. Today the majority of Jews in Thailand, probably less than 1,000 still live in Bangkok, however there are also synagogues in places like Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui.
What I was unaware of is the strength of today' Jewish community. A friend who has recently visited has made me aware of the work of Chabad of Bangkok. Their work in helping Jewish tourists to Thailand feel welcome and at home is outstanding. Founded in 1993, their work has led to hundreds of thousands of Jews being able to receive assistance in maintaining their Jewish traditions. More can be read about the group by visiting www.jewishthailand.com

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