14 September 2008

Pakistan: A semi-secret Jewish community

About 100 years ago, some 2,500 Jews lived in Karachi, Pakistan and a few hundred more in Peshawar. However, most left for Israel, India, the UK and other points following establishment of the state of Israel and subsequent violence.

Karachi's Magen Shalom synagogue was the victim of arsonists; its artifacts have vanished and property developers demolished the building in the 1980s.

Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz wrote this story on Pakistan's Jewish community.

Two of Pakistan's last known Jews, sisters Sara and Rachel Joseph, who lived in Karachi, are thought to have died in the past few years; a third woman, Rachel Joseph, a relative of the Karachi synagogue's last custodian, was still alive in 2005 and would be about 90 today.

Occasionally, through the decades, however, reports have surfaced suggesting anything from a few individuals to a couple of hundred Jews may still be living in semi-secrecy in Pakistan. A census a few years ago, intriguingly, showed 10 government employees had identified themselves as Jews.

And three years ago, as president Pervez Musharraf was gently warming unofficial Pakistani ties to Israel, The Jerusalem Post wrote about one Ishaac Moosa Akhir, who had e-mailed our paper describing himself as "a doctor at a local hospital in Karachi," from a Sephardi Jewish background, who personally knew "approximately 10 Jewish families who have lived in Karachi for 200 years or so. Just last week was the bar mitzva of my son Dawod Akhir."

For the complete story, click on the link above.

I know several families in Israel that lived in Lahore, Karachi and other cities, and who had helped Iranian Jews escape after the Revolution. Some continue to travel back and forth but they rarely speak to reporters and do not want their names publicized.

1 comment:

  1. Hockey Hound5:07 PM

    "Some continue to travel back and forth but they rarely speak to reporters and do not want their names publicized."

    Any Jew who attempts to live in Pakistan needs to see a psychiatrist, in my opinion. Remember, Islam teaches hatred against the Jews; the anti-Jewish culture of Pakistan is a manifest consequence of this teaching.