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Fiji Virtual Jewish History Tour

[By: Ariel Scheib]

Fiji is a group of beautiful, lush green islands, scattered in the Pacific Ocean. It encompasses 332 islands, which expands over 18,000 sq. km. Today, the population of Fiji is 48% Fijian (natives), 45% Indians (almost all Hindus), and the remainder is comprised of various ethnicities and nationalities (approximately 60 Jews).

Nearly all Jews in the Fiji Islands live in the capital city of Suva. Henry Mark, at the age of 20, was the first Jew to settle in Fiji in 1881. Mark was originally a native of Australia and instituted an extensive commercial enterprise throughout the region. Marks would later be joined by Jews from India, the Middle East, and other localities in Asia. There are currently three cemeteries in Fiji, located in Momi (private cemetery), Ovalau Island (Levuka), and Suva (old cemetery) with Jewish inscriptions on the tombstones, dating back to the first Jewish settlers in the 1800s.

Until the recent establishment of the Fiji Jewish Association there was little organized activity among the Jewish population. There still remains limited religious life among these Jews; however, the Israeli Embassy does hold an annual Passover Seder, which accommodates 50 to 60 people. Kosher food is imported from Australia.

Israel and Fiji enjoy full diplomatic affairs. In May 2002, the Fiji Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, agreed with the Israeli Ambassador, H. E. Ruth Kahanoff that the two countries should strengthen their relations though they are so far apart geographically. While there is an Israeli Embassy in Fiji, the Israeli Ambassador in Canberra, Australia represents Israeli interests in Fiji.

Israel sent 12 portable solar generators to Fiji in October 2016, in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Fiji Jewish Association:
Carpenter Street, P.O.Box 882 GPO,
Suva, Fiji
Tel : 679 387 980
Fax : 679 387 946

Embassy of Israel:
Joske Street, 69,
Parade Building, P.O. Box 15249
Suva, Fiji
Tel : 679 303 420
Fax : 679 300 415

Sources: World Jewish Congress; International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies - Cemetery Project