The Jews of Taipei

August 8, 2022 | Sarah Nachimson
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Last week, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi made headlines with her bold visit to Taiwan. Sarah Nachimson considers the island’s small Jewish community which numbers about 700 to 800 people:

After Taiwan’s first resident rabbi, Ephraim Einhorn, passed away on September 14, 2021, at one-hundred-and-three, the London-born Leon Fenster took over as lead ḥazan of the Taiwan Jewish Community, one of two centers of Taiwanese Jewish life, the other being the Chabad Taipei founded in 2011. Einhorn, who moved from Austria to the United Kingdom at fourteen years old and lost his parents to the Nazis in the Holocaust, earned his doctorate and rabbinic ordination from a now-defunct London yeshiva.

Einhorn arrived in Taipei in 1975 as a financial advisor to a Kuwaiti trade delegation, and began officiating at bar-mitzvah ceremonies and leading high-holiday services in the region. While he was the first rabbi known to live in Taiwan, the Jewish community there, according to Fenster, first began to grow in the 1950s when Jewish expats stationed at a local military base, most of them American, joined with the tiny non-military Jewish community in the city of Taipei.

Today, . . . the largest demographic in the expat community is American Jews, but some community members are also Taiwanese as well as from South America, Israel, and Europe.

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