Community in Hong Kong - World Jewish Congress
Hong Kong

Hong Kong is home to about 5,000 Jews, according to The Times of Israel in 2019. Today, the community is mainly expatriates who enjoy a relatively autonomous existence with almost no antisemitism in the country.

The Hong Kong Jewish community is represented by the Ohel Synagogue Charity – the Hong Kong affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate
Ohel Leah Synagogue

Office Manager
: Pauline Ngan
WJC Delegate:
Erica Lyons

(852) 2589 2621
(852) 2548 4200

Social Media:
Facebook: Ohel Leah Synagogue
Instagram: @ols.hongkong
YouTube: Ohel Leah Synagogue

Management Committee Chair: Russell Davidson

Though Jewish merchants had come to Hong Kong for commercial and economic reasons for centuries, there was no settled Jewish presence until 1842, when the region became a British Crown colony. Two prominent Sephardic dynasties – the Sassoon and Kadoorie families – moved their businesses to Hong Kong. Both families were instrumental in the development of the port, and largely employed Jews to encourage community population growth.

The Hong Kong Jewish community was established in 1857, and shortly thereafter the first synagogue was opened. Jewish engineers and businessmen played a crucial role in the city's development, helping establish vital commercial centers – such as Nathan Road – and essential segments of the transportation network. Sir Matthew Nathan, a Jewish major in the British Royal Engineers, played a notable role in these developments and later served as the first and only Jewish governor of Hong Kong from 1904 to 1907.

The Hong Kong Jewish community grew slowly and steadily during the first half of the 20th century. The Japanese occupation of mainland China in the late 1930s saw many Jews leave its major cities – Shanghai, Tianjin, and Harbin – for Hong Kong. World War II and the consequent Japanese occupation of Hong Kong saw a temporary suspension of Jewish life in the territory.

Hong Kong’s development into an international and trade finance hub has attracted tens of thousands of foreigners, including Jews from Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom, effectively revitalizing the local Jewish community. The current Jewish community in Hong Kong is mostly expatriates seeking business and commercial opportunities.

Well-integrated into Hong Kong society, the Jewish community was not adversely affected by the 1997 transfer of power from Britain to China and currently experiences little to no antisemitism or discrimination.

The Years of the Holocaust

Imperial Japan’s aggressive actions in the Pacific Ocean and towards Asia in the years preceding the outbreak of World War II created a sense of unease among regional Jews. The Japanese conquest of Shanghai in 1937, and later the entirety of mainland China, signaled a disturbing turn for China’s Jewish population. As a result, many Jews left China’s major cities – Tianjin, Harbin, and Shanghai – for Hong Kong.

However, the outbreak of World War II and the consequent Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in 1941 halted the expansion of the Hong Kong Jewish community and temporarily halted all Jewish activities there. Those who did not leave before the Japanese arrived were interned at the Stanley Barracks, a fort on the Southern side of Hong Kong island. The Ohel Leah Synagogue survived the war as a warehouse, but the Jewish Club, which the Kadoorie family had established, was looted and torn down by the Japanese (it was later rebuilt in 1949). Hong Kong was freed from Japanese occupation at the end of the war and Jewish life resumed.


Based on estimates from Sergio DellaPergola, a demographer at Hebrew University, in his 2015 World Jewish Population, approximately 2,500 Jews live in Hong Kong, out of a total population of 7,191,503.

While the Jewish community in Hong Kong is almost entirely concentrated in the city limit, there is a small Jewish presence in the New Territories, Hong Kong’s rural back country.

Community Life

The Ohel Synagogue Charity is responsible for virtually all Jewish institutions, including the Ohel Leah Synagogue, the Hong Kong Jewish Community Center, the Hong Kong Jewish Cemetery, the Hong Kong Chevra Kadisha, all Jewish community security, and the relationship with the Hong Kong government.

Other Jewish communal organizations in Hong Kong focus on a variety of fields. The Jewish Women’s Association of Hong Kong, a voluntary organization dedicated to empowering and supporting women and children, provides educational, health, and social welfare programs. The Jewish Historical Society provides archival and documentation resources for the community, and the Jewish Film Festival draws attendees from within the Jewish community and the broader Hong Kong community.

Religious and Cultural Life

Despite the small size of Hong Kong, all streams of Judaism are active in the territory. There are two Sephardi Orthodox congregations—Kehilat Zion and Shuva Israel—and the modern Orthodox Ohel Leah Synagogue. The United Jewish Congregation serves a conglomerate of streams, providing a place of worship for Reform, Liberal, and Conservative Hong Kong Jews.

The Ohel Synagogue Charity oversees the Jewish community of Hong Kong; the Ohel Leah Synagogue, established in 1901, is the only historic synagogue in Greater China with a continuous community that dates back to the 1850s.

Kosher Food

Kosher food can be found in a limited capacity in Hong Kong, largely through the auspices of the JCC and the Chabad of Hong Kong. Though Hong Kong has a few kosher restaurants, kosher food outside these institutions is rare, if not non-existent.

Jewish Education

Jewish education in Hong Kong is largely run through the territory’s religious institutions. In addition, the Carmel School Association, one of the leading international schools in Hong Kong, provides a Jewish-structured education and offers a secondary education program.

The various communal synagogues and institutions, such as Chabad, the UJC, and the Ohel Synagogue, all offer comprehensive Torah and Hebrew studies.


There is a local chapter of Bnei Akiva in Hong Kong, and the Ohel Leah Synagogue runs a youth group called Young Ohel Leah. Chabad and several other groups also run youth activities.

Relations with Israel

Israel and Hong Kong established formal relationships in 1985, and maintain close economic and technological ties.

Consulate General of Israel in Hong Kong and Macau
701 Admiralty Centre Tower II
18 Harcourt Road, Hong Kong
Telephone: +852 2821 7500
Fax: +852 2865 0220


Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter
The latest from the Jewish world