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Jews in Indonesia
Indonesia is a largest state in South East Asia by population with approximately 250 million people where Muslims are the majority of religious group in Indonesia. Indonesian constitution  support the religious freedom, but the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam (87.18%), Protestantism (6.96%), Roman Catholicism (2.91%), Hinduism (1.69%), Buddhism (0.72%), and Confucianism (0.05%). This is interesting while Hinduism and Buddhism dominated the early history of Indonesia, then when the spread of Islam after that, until the Christianity in Dutch colonialism, in fact there are a few of Jews in Indonesia.
The history of the Jews in Indonesia (Indonesian: Yahudi) commences with the arrival of early European explorers and settlers. Jews in Indonesia presently form a very small Jewish community of about 100-500, of mostly Sephardi Jews.
In the 1850s, Jewish traveler Jacob Saphir✡ was the first to write about the Jewish community in the Dutch East Indies, after visiting Batavia. In Batavia, he had spoken with a local Jew, who had told him of about 20 Jewish families in the city; and several more in Surabaya and Semarang. Most of the Jews living in the Dutch East Indies in the 19th century were Dutch Jews, who worked as merchants or were affiliated with the colonial regime. However, some members of the Jewish community were immigrants from Iraq or Aden.
Between the two World Wars (I and II), the number of Jews in the Dutch East Indies was estimated at 2,000 by Israel Cohen✡. During Japanese Occupation of Indonesia, mostly Jews moved from Batavia to some regions in Indonesia, especially to Surabaya and Medan. After the war, the released Jews found themselves without their previous property, and many emigrated to the United States, Australia, or Israel.
Assimilation and population changes
The same social and cultural characteristics of Indonesia that facilitated the extraordinary economic, political, and social success of the Indonesian Jewish community also contributed to assimilation.
Intermarriage rates rose from roughly 55% in 1944 to approximately 90%-99% in 2004. Intermarried couples raise their children with a local religious upbringing. However, it is much more common for intermarried families to raise their children as just culturally Indonesian.
For identity, the government issues ID cards called KTP (Kartu Tanda Penduduk). Every citizen over the age of 17 must carry a KTP. Listed on the identity card is the holder's religion. Indonesia only recognizes six religions: Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Judaism and other religions are not recognized by the Indonesian government.
Indonesian public figures-Jewish descendant
The following is a list of the Indonesian public figures Jewish religion that are known as Jewish descendant:
- David Sayers✡, Member of Yeshiva (Orthodox Judaism) in United Kingdom.
- Joseph Aaron✡, the cohen (imam) of Synagogue in Surabaya.
- Rita Aaron✡, Indonesian model.
- Joice Kohler✡, German Jew in Surabaya, she is mother of Ahmad Dhani✡ (Indonesian musician).
- Yaakov Baruch✡, Rabbi in Indonesia from Manado.
- Irvan Grossman✡, Jewish activist in North Sulawesi.
- Benjamin Verbrugge✡, Rabbi and Chairman of The United Indonesian Jewish Community (UIJC) in Indonesia.
- Yokhanan Eliyahu✡, Rabbi in Indonesia.
- Yan Wieland✡, Indonesian Jewish public figure.
Indonesian Jewish descendant but not Judaism (Crypto-Jews):
- Marini Sardi✡ (Muslim), senior actress.
- Yapto Suryosumarno✡ (Christian), politician and youth leaders.
- Ahmad Jayadi✡ (Muslim), racer.
- Larasati Suryokumoro✡ (Christian), entrepreneur.
- Nafa Urbach✡ (Christian), singer and drama actress.
- Cornelia Agatha✡ (Christian), movie actress.
- Xaviera Hollander✡ (Christian), writer and entrepreneur (ex-erotic model).
- Ahmad Dhani✡ (Muslim), musician.
- Sheila Marcia Joseph✡ (Christian), movie actress.
- Dolly Zegerius✡ (Christian), former national women athlete.
- Mariana Renata (unknown), international top model.
- Irwan Dhanny Mussry✡ (Muslim), entrepreneur.
The Surabaya synagogue was a synagogue located in the city of Surabaya, provincial capital of Eastern Java in Indonesia. For many years it was the only synagogue in the country. The synagogue has been no longer active since 2009 and had no Torah Scrolls or rabbi. It was located in Jalan Kayun 6 on a 2.000 m² lot near the Kali Mas river.
The building was a house built in 1939 during the Dutch domination. It was bought by the local Jewish community from a Dutch doctor in 1948 and transformed into a synagogue. Only the mezuzah and 2 Stars of David in the entrance showed the presence of this synagogue. The Indonesian Jewish community is very tiny, with most of it living in the capital of Jakarta and the rest in Surabaya. The community in Surabaya is no longer big enough to support a minyan, a gathering of 10 men needed in order to conduct public worship. The synagogue was totally demolished in 2013. No sign of it was left over. Nevertheless, there are many Jewish cemeteries around the country in Semarang (center of Java), in Pangkalpinang in Bangka island, in Palembang south of Sumatra and of course in Surabaya itself.
Since 2003, Shaar Hashamayim synagogue has been serving local Jewish community of some 20 people in Tondano city, Minahasa Regency, North Sulawesi. Currently it is the only synagogue in Indonesia that provides services. Some tiny local Jewish community exist in the area, mostly those whom rediscovered their ancestral roots and convert back to Judaism.
- Pew Forum on Religious & Public life. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- "Penduduk Menurut Wilayah dan Agama yang Dianut" [Population by Region and Religion]. Sensus Penduduk 2010. Jakarta, Indonesia: Badan Pusat Statistik. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 20 Nov 2011.
Religion is belief in Almighty God that must be possessed by every human being. Religion can be divided into Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Hu Khong Chu, and Other Religion.Muslim 207176162 (87.18%), Christian 16528513 (6.96), Catholic 6907873 (2.91), Hindu 4012116 (1.69), Buddhist 1703254 (0.72), Khong Hu Chu 117091 (0.05), Other 299617 (0.13), Not Stated 139582 (0.06), Not Asked 757118 (0.32), Total 237641326
- "The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia". US-ASEAN. Archived from the original on 9 January 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
- Yang, Heriyanto (August 2005). "The History and Legal Position of Confucianism in Post Independence Indonesia" (PDF). Religion. 10 (1): 8. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
- The Jewish Virtual Library - Indonesia
- Jumlah Kongres Yahudi Dunia
- Sinaya,James.(May 30, 2013).Jawa pos newspaper,26 May 2013,30 May 2013
- Hussain, Zakir (February 18, 2013). "Indonesia's Only Synagogue Struggles to Find Wider Acceptance". Straits Times. Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Beth Hatefutsoth - The Jewish Community of Indonesia
- The Jews of Surabaya
- "In a Sliver of Indonesia, a Public Embrace of Judaism", The New York Times
- Jakarta Post : "Story behind RI's sole synagogue"
- Beth Hatefutsoth : The Synagogue of Surabaya