Community in Malta - World Jewish Congress

The Maltese Jewish community is represented by the Jewish Community of Malta (JCM) – the Maltese affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.

WJC Affiliate
Jewish Community of Malta (JCM)

+356 386266

Hon. Secretary/Treasurer:
Stanley L. Davis

President: Reuben Oyahon

Jews mostly likely first arrived in Malta alongside Phoenician traders around the ninth century BCE. Generally well-treated within the Phoenician Empire, Jews were able to sail the seas freely, and many settled on islands throughout the empire, including Malta. However, the Jewish communities in Malta during this time were largely temporary. It was not until the second half of the first century of the Common Era that Jews settled more permanently on the island. 

After Muslims occupied the island around 870 CE and established a caliphate there, Jews living in Malta were civil servants and served in influential court roles, including even as vizier. When the Normans took control of the island in 1091, they found Muslims, Jews, and Christians all living together.

Throughout successive centuries, the geographical position of the island, at the crossroads of various Mediterranean routes, saw several different waves of Jewish communities arrive in Malta, including from Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Turkey, and North Africa. However, Spanish rule on the island saw some antisemitic measures imposed on the island’s Jewish population. Yet, Jews in Malta were pardoned by a sympathetic bishop in 1400, and orders not to meddle in their affairs as well as the abolition of a specific tax imposed on Jews allowed the Maltese Jewish community to prosper. But such prosperity was short-lived. After the Inquisition reached Malta in 1492, its Jews were expelled from the island and forced to forfeit a sizeable amount of their possessions. Several Maltese Jews converted as a result, and many of these "conversos" (converts) lived on the island. In 1530, Malta came under the control of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, whose relatively relaxed policies towards Jews saw some Sicilian Conversos settle on the island. However, the Knights were almost entirely focused on fending off the Ottoman Empire, and the island became a hotbed for maritime raids. The only practicing Jews who lived in Malta during this period were kept as slaves.

Centuries of slavery made Malta a detested place for Jews in the Mediterranean, and it was not until the French took power in Malta that the Jewish community began to reform itself. The French abolished slavery and enforced legal equality, and the English, who took over subsequently, followed suit. During this period, a number of Jews from Gibraltar arrived in Malta and established business connections.

Throughout successive centuries of British rule, Jews were afforded protection under the law, even during a somewhat contentious campaign organized by the Maltese against “foreigners” in 1805. In fact, by the end of the 19th century, most Jews on the island were British and had established themselves in the commerce or finance industries. Throughout the early years of the 20th century and into the interwar years, the Maltese Jewish community was small, and Jews continued to be largely involved in business.

The latter half of the 20th century saw Jewish life in Malta remain steady. This remains the case today, and some Ashkenazi Jews have recently arrived in Malta, usually for business reasons, but nonetheless, they are contributors to Jewish life on the island.

The Years of the Holocaust

In the years preceding the Holocaust, many Jews fleeing Nazism came to Malta, as it was the only European country that didn’t require visas for Jews to enter. Consequently, Malta rescued thousands of Jews from persecution. Numerous Maltese Jews or Jews arrived in Malta, and many fought the Nazi regime in the British Army during the war.


Malta was estimated to be home to around 100 Jews in 2023. Largely of Sephardic origin, the Maltese Jews live in harmony on the island, and there has been a recent resurgence in the practice of Jewish life. Most Maltese Jews live in, or around, Valletta, the capital.

Community Life

The Jewish community in Malta is represented by the Jewish Community of Malta (JCM), which acts as the communal representation for the organization and ensures that Jewish cultural and religious life is able to be practiced on the island. Additionally, there is a Jewish Center in Valletta.

Religious and Cultural Life

Jewish religious life in Malta is Sephardic-oriented, though an Ashkenazi prayer book is used, and full services are offered on Shabbat and major Jewish holidays. Chabad is also active in Malta and works in close conjunction with the JCM. Additionally, there is a mikveh run by the JCM.

Kosher Food

Kosher food is available in Malta.

Jewish Education

There is a kindergarten for the need of the local community and some Jewish educational courses offered by the Jewish Community of Malta.

Information for Visitors

There are some notable Jewish sites in Malta, including archaeological remains of Jewish burial places and several small cemeteries. The oldest surviving one, the Kalkara Slave Cemetery, contains a Latin-inscribed plaque on the exterior wall, which states that the burial ground "was established in 1784 by the “Livorno Fund for Ransoming Hebrew Slaves."

Places of past Jewish presence include the Old Jewish Silk Market in the city of Mdina, Carmel Street, Jews’ Gate and Jews sally port in both Mdina and Burgu ports, and the Jewry Street in Burgu.

Relations with Israel

Israel and Malta currently maintain full diplomatic relations, and Israel is represented in Malta by its ambassador in Rome.

Embassy of the State of Israel
Via Michele Mercati 14
00197 Roma
Telephone: +39 06 36198 586
Fax: +39 06 36198555

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