Very few people would have known that Singapore has a small Jewish population, let alone the fact that Singapore is also home to the the oldest Jewish synagogue in Southeast Asia - the Maghain Aboth Synagogue. The synagogue is located at Waterloo Street near Bras Basah MRT Station.
Founded by three Jews, Joseph Dwek Cohen, Nassim Joseph Ezra and Ezra Ezekiel, the synagogue was built in 1878 in the first Jewish quarter in Singapore just off South Canal Road, as customary to the belief that a synagogue had to be in walking distance from home.
The synagogue follows the design concept of the time, and its exterior has Victorian and colonial style elements. Inside though, the synagogue follows very closely to its teachings and has several interesting features.
The synagogue consists of sunk-in well for the mikvah or ritual bath, two seperate entrances for men and women respectively, high triple-volume ceiling, traditional columns and rustic walls, a raised pulpit, or bimah, a second-storey U-shaped balcony for women and a prayer room positioned towards Jerusalem. Oil lamps which were used for providing light in the past can still be seen today suspended from steel rods in remembrance of who died in the past year.
While it still regularly conducts services and observance of Jewish festivals, the Maghain Aboth Synagogue is also open to general public all year round and holds services daily except on Mondays. Visit the synagogue to learn more about the little-known Jewish culture in Singapore.