Judaism is described as a religion, a race, a culture, and a nation.
One of the main reasons for the Jewish population in the Philippines because of the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th Century. This forced many Jews in Spain to either convert or flee. Some of the Jews that fled found themselves in the Philippines. The arrival of the three Levy Brothers were the first settlement of Jews in the Philippines during the Spanish years. There goal was to be entrepreneurs in the Philippines developing new products to help the country. Their business products would vary from, jewelry, a general merchandising business, import trade in gems, and pharmaceuticals. In March of 1869, the brothers finally got some Jewish company when the the Suez Canal become open. This established a better trading route between Europe and the Philippines which was very good for growing businesses, as well as let more Jews into the country. The most important war for Jewish history in the Philippines was the Spanish-American war because that let the Jewish community openly practice Judaism.
The American Era may be regarded as the most important era in the Jewish history in the Philippines as more important people started to arrive. The arrival of American military forces brung Jewish servicemen as well as Jewish teachers which bought education. This also opened many new markets for imports/exports which brought some Jewish businessmen. They would either set up shops in the Philippines or extended businesses from the U.S. One of the most important names to enter the Philippines under the Jewish religion is Emil Bachrach. His family paid for the synagogue and cultural hall was honored with his name. They were called Temple Emil (see picture below) and Bachrach Hall. Emil was known as the first American Jew who permantly settled in the Philippines. Strong Jewish institutions were needed for economic wealth at the time. Temple Emil was built for several reasons. It was the place for Jews to socialize and adapt more into Judaism, as well as celebrate High Holidays when a visiting Rabbi would come and pray. With all these new developments toward the Jewish population in the Philippines, the number of Jews launched up to around 500. Also, this was around the time of the Holocaust which caused the biggest population of Jews escaping to the Philippines. A program was started to rescue the Jews from Europe between 1937 and 1941 which bough the biggest increase to the Jewish population in the history of the Philippines. About 1300 refugee Jews were saved and sheltered in the Philippines.
After the Jewish population reached its max at about 2,500 the invasion of the Japanese invasion significantly lowered that number. They destroyed Temple Emil and Bachrach Hall which I talked about earlier as being two of the most important places for Jewish gatherings in the Philippines. Luckily, the Jewish community was provided with essentials such as food, water, supplies, and medicine for people who were hurt. This was provided by the American military who also donated over $10,000 to replace the buildings. However, the obliteration was still too much to handle to the point where 30% of the Jews were forced to flee and more and more would keep leaving in the future. On the bright side though, over 13,000 Jewish refugees were saved in the Philippines where as there over 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. As a survey taken in 2005 there are now about 500 Jews which is a very insignificant number. It is about .000005% of the total population in the Philippines. There is only one synagogue left which is called Beth Yaacov. Metro Manila holds the largest Jewish community which is around 40 families. The remaining Jews have various different professions but there are still some business entrepreneurs and representatives.
- "What is Judaism". Judaism 101. http://www.jewfaq.org/judaism.htm.
- Scheib, Ariel. "Philippines Virtual Jewish History Tour". Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/philippines.html.
- "Philippines Jewish Community". Jewish Times Asia. http://www.jewishtimesasia.org/manila/269-manila-communities/576-philippines-jewish-community.
- "CHHE Philippines History". The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080704122707/http://www.holocaustandhumanity.org/chhe_philippinesstory.html.
- "Morton Netzorg and Manila's Jewish community". Torn and Frayed in Manila. 21 February 2006. http://tornandfrayed.typepad.com/tornandfrayed/2006/02/norton_hertzog_.html.