Penang Jewish Cemetery
The Penang Jewish Cemetery was established in 1805 and is the oldest Jewish cemetery in the country. It occupies an area of more than 38,000 sqft in size. The piece of land that it sits on is cleaver-shaped and is located along Jalan Zainal Abidin, which was formerly known as the Yahudi (Jewish) Road.
The cemetery holds more than 107 graves and most of them resemble traditional ossuaries (triangular vaulted-lid caskets). This type of ossuary is commonly found in Israel. The oldest Jewish tombstone in the Penang Jewish Cemetery dates back to 9th July 1835. It belongs to Mrs. Shoshan Levi (Rachamah Levi). She was the benefactor who contributed the land which this cemetery was established. The newest tombstone in this cemetery was set in 2011 and is the grave of the last ethnic Jew in Penang.
Although there may be a few Jewish graves in other non-Jewish cemeteries, the Penang Jewish Cemetery is the only cemetery which was built to solely for the small, yet thriving, Jewish community in the West Malaysia. The cemetery is managed by a board of trustees registered and established since 1885. Today, the cemetery still functions and is maintained by the Trustees.
Image by ultimatekldevil.
If the caretaker is around, he will give you access.
Hear From Others
The Jewish Cemetery in Penang is believed to be the oldest single Jewish cemetery in Malaysia, if not South-East Asia. The oldest tombstone is dated 1805 and the most recent being 1976, that of a teacher’s college lecturer.
Syed Imran Syed Ahmad
According to the information I had, I needed to turn left on Jalan Zainal Abidin (formerly Jalan Yahud, “Jewish street”), and on my left I should find it, surrounded by a three meter high wall. Sure enough, there it was. Right across the road from the street vendor selling Thai food. Penang’s Jewish cemetery.
A remarkable aspect of the Cemetery relates to how it is maintained. The site is not entirely immaculate, the grassy weeds grow long but the graves are clean and in good condition
Sara Ashencaen Crabtree