10 August 2009

Macau: Jews in the east

Macau is the Las Vegas of the Far East.

Several years ago I visited Las Vegas and met with Sheldon Adelson at his offices in the Venetian. Evidence of his plans in Macau were obvious.

This week, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent carried an article on Macau.

Two years ago, Macau lay somewhere between its colorful history and the city it wanted to be in the 21st century. It boasted a venerable collection of museums and sites celebrating its fusion of Chinese and Portuguese culture, and yet was the world's most ambitious construction site.

Billionaire casino hoteliers Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson placed heavy bets on Macau properties, designed to push the envelope beyond their Las Vegas establishments.
Although Las Vegas - which Adelson calls "Disney Land for adults" - is in an economic downturn, Macau is flourishing. His Venetian Macau development in the Cotai Strip has 3,000 rooms, a mall and an upscale Four Seasons hotel.

Visitors are increasing to the area's museums, parks, restaurants and UNESCO Heritage sites.

According to Macau Tourist Office guide Teresa Costa Gomes (who claims some Jewish ancestry), Jews are coming there from around the world.

Although many travel to Hong Kong for major holidays, Gomes expects this will change.

The article includes the comments of Israeli Priel Manes who now lives there.

We sat down for a chat in the tastefully opulent lobby of the Ponte 16 Sofitel to discuss what made Macau such an exciting, attractive place for young Jewish professionals in such fields as education and security (there is an appreciation for Mossad-trained individuals among casino, club and retail owners).

"Though some people in Hong Kong will insist the area's entire Jewish community is concentrated in Hong Kong, Macau has a Jewish community that is definitely growing" with arrivals "from Israel, Australia, Canada and the U.S. to work and study," explains the 25-year-old student.

"Out of necessity, we have made efforts to network and meet one another, and groups like Macau Jewish Singles reflect this," she says. "Even general business networking parties have been great; when you mention you're from Israel, several other people will take an interest" and reveal that they are Jewish as well.
Over the past four years, the Jewish community has come together in Macau. Most are professionals, ages 30-50.

There's even talk about the need for a center or synagogue.

Can a Jewish genealogical society be far behind? There's already a fledgling Jewish genealogy group in Hong Kong. Anyone up for a future international conference of Jewish genealogy in Macau?

Visit the Macau Tourism site for more information.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:38 AM

    I will be in Macau over Yom Kippur and wondering if there will be any form of services carried on in Macau or must i plan to be in Hong Kong?