Keeping the Jewish heritage alive in George Town

GEORGE TOWN: Former fighter pilot Abraham Jacobs may have left Penang nearly 40 years ago but he makes it a point to return to the island every year.

For the 90-year-old Baghdad-born Jew, the Penang Jewish Cemetery at Jalan Zainal Abidin here is a compulsory stop as it is the resting place of both his father and eldest son.

“It’s like paying respects during qing ming,” said Jacobs, explaining his trip to the cemetery early last week where he was spotted sprucing up the two graves.

In loving memory: Jacobs sprucing up the Penang Jewish cemetery at Jalan Zainal Abidin in George Town.

Abraham first stayed in Penang in 1937 when his late father, Hayoo Jacobs was sent to the island as minister of the local synagogue.

The cemetery’s caretaker S. Saraswathi, 56, said Jacobs was the oldest Jewish visitor and still sends money every month for its upkeep through Penang Heritage Trust honorary secretary Clement Liang.

The Jewish cemetery on Jalan Zainal Abidin, which used to be known as Jalan Yahudi, can be traced back almost 180 years ago with the burial of a Mrs Shoshan Levi who died on July 9, 1835.

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