Wednesday, September 21, 2016
If you've traveled around the world and think you've seen every country with a Jewish presence, you might be pleasantly surprised if you visit the tiny island of Malta, off the coast of Sicily.
We came across a short video depicting Jewish history and current Jewish life on the island, and thought we'd share it with you as a break from standup comedy.
Of course there's a Chabad House (there's probably one on Mars, too) and Wikipedia has some interesting facts about Malta's Jewish traces.
The first Jew known to have set foot on Malta was Paul of Tarsus, whose ship foundered there in 62 CE. Paul went on to introduce Christianity to the island population.
The Jewish people generally prospered during the Middle Ages and were not required to live in ghettos. Most owned agricultural land or worked as merchants. Avraham Abulafia, a well-known Jewish mystic, lived on Comino from 1285 to his death in the 1290s. In 1479 Malta and Sicily came under Aragonese rule and the 1492 Edict of Expulsion forced all Jews to leave the country. Because they made up such a large portion of the island's population the Spanish Crown forced them to pay compensation for the losses caused by their expulsion.
In the time before World War II many Jews fleeing Nazism came to Malta as it was the only European country not to require visas of Jews fleeing German rule. Numerous Maltese Jews fought Germany in the British Army during the war.
Today, 1,000 Jews live in Malta, of which many are elderly due to the tendency of young inhabitants to emigrate. Maltese Jews live mainly around the capital. The local flat bread called ftira and the traditional Maltese loaf are both kosher.
In 2000, a new synagogue was built with donations from the United States and the UK. The Jewish Foundation of Malta now manages it along with a Jewish Center. Malta's relations with Israel have been friendly since the former's independence.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)