Jewish contributions to Singapore

A new set of Torah - or Jewish written law - being completed at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street on Sept 30.
A new set of Torah - or Jewish written law - being completed at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Waterloo Street on Sept 30.PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

The Jewish community here has contributed greatly to Singapore. Here are some highlights:

1928: Prominent tycoon and philanthropist Manasseh Meyer (1846-1930) donates $150,000 to the University of Malaya in Singapore, to build its science building, which is now a national monument. Also, Britain's King George V knighted him in 1929 after he donated $20,000 to the British military effort in World War I. Meyer Road is named after him.


1955: Mr David Marshall, one of Singapore's best ever lawyers, is Singapore's first elected chief minister. He was also head of the Labour Party, founder of the Workers' Party and, later, a diplomat.


1959: Mr Frank Benjamin founds F J Benjamin. In 1975, he opens Singapore's first single-brand store, Lanvin, in the Grand Hyatt hotel. In 2002, KPMG and Oxford University name his company Singapore's top retailer for brand value creation.


1962-1967: Stockbroker and philanthropist Jacob Ballas (1921-2000) is first the chairman of the Malayan Stock Exchange, and from 1964, chairman of the Malaysia and Singapore Stock Exchange, growing the paid-up capital of these bourses from about $870 million to $2 billion.


1985: Lawyer Harry Elias sets up the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, in which lawyers defend for free those poor and accused of non-capital crimes.

Cheong Suk- Wai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Jewish contributions to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe