Community in Gibraltar - World Jewish Congress
Gibraltar

Gibraltar is home to 763 Jews. With a longstanding historical presence on the peninsula, the Jews of Gibraltar constitute one of the largest religious minorities in the British colonial territory. Largely Sephardic, Gibraltarian Jewry has contributed significantly to the cultural and political well-being of the island. The Jewish community in Gibraltar is represented by the Gibraltar Jewish Community, an affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate

Managing Board, Gibraltar Jewish Community (MBJC)

Telephone: (+350) 200 72606
Fax: (+350) 200 40487
Email: mbjc@gibtelecom.net

President: Haim J. M. Levy, QC, LLB
Hon. Secretary: Eli S. V. Beniso

 


History

There has been a Jewish presence in Gibraltar at least since 1356. However, the original community, together with the rest of the Jews of Spain, was banished in 1492. With the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Britain gained control over the territory. Although Spain insisted that Jews continue to be excluded, Britain did not acquiesce to this, and Jews (along with Moors and other minorities) were granted the right to permanent settlement in 1749.

Following Jewish resettlement on “the Rock,” the oldest synagogue in Gibraltar, Congregation Sha’ar HaShamayim, was established. By 1754, there were 573 Jews in Gibraltar and they formed one-third of the civilian population. By the middle of the 19th century, the Jews were an integral part of Gibraltar’s economy, dominating most of the retail trade on the island.

The community began to decline as many Jews never returned to Gibraltar after being evacuated to other British territories during the Second World War. Only a few remained after the end of hostilities.

Today, the Jewish community is growing again. Its members have played an active and important role in politics and other fields. Notably, Gibraltar’s first and third Chief Minister was Joshua Hassan, who served from 1964 to 1969 and again from 1972 to 1987. More recently, Solomon Levy served as Mayor of Gibraltar from 2008 to 2009.

 

The Years of the Holocaust

Throughout World War II, Gibraltar was considered a vital component of the Allied strategy. Gibraltar’s position at the entrance of the Mediterranean meant that any Axis convoy of supply ships would have to pass through Gibraltar before reaching their respective destinations. There was also the ever-present danger of Francoist Spain seizing Gibraltar, and placing it in the hands of the Axis powers.

Fortunately, Franco resisted any hostile or aggressive action, even reportedly extending an invitation to Gibraltarian Jews of Sephardic origin to come to Spain for protection. Most of Gibraltar’s Jews were evacuated during the war (as was the majority of citizens in general), in order to strengthen “the Rock” defensively with the addition of more military personnel.

 

Demography

According to the 2012 census, there are 763 Jews in Gibraltar, constituting two percent of the population.

Community Life

Gibraltar’s Jews are represented by the Managing Board of the Gibraltar Jewish Community (MBJC). The organization is structured to provide almost all aspects of Jewish life to its members. It provides a meeting place for Jewish Gibraltarians, a schooling system, a synagogue, a mikveh (ritual bath) and even a Jewish cemetery. Other organizations include the Hevra Kadisha (burial society) and a local chapter of WIZO, the Women's International Zionist Organization.

Religious and Cultural Life

Despite the small size of the community, Gibraltar boasts four orthodox synagogues with regular services. The community also operates two Jewish burial grounds.    Kosher food can be readily found in Gibraltar, with the government funding a kosher home for the aged.

Jewish Education

Gibraltar offers Jewish day schools for all ages and all levels, including a Hebrew School and Secondary School. There is also a Kollel (Institute of Advanced Talmudic Studies).

youth

There are Jewish youth-oriented activities offered through the Gibraltar Jewish Community, but no official Jewish youth organizations operate in Gibraltar.

Information for Visitors

Gibraltar’s notable Jewish sites include its four synagogues, as well as the old Jewish cemetery in the Upper Rock.

Israel

Gibraltar and Israel maintain full diplomatic ties and Israel maintains a consulate in Gibraltar.

Consulate of Israel
39 Glacis Road, Marina View
P.O Box 238, Gibraltar
Telephone: (+350) 200 77735
Fax: (+350) 200 74301
Email: david.benaim@overseas.gi

 

updated

 

March 2018

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