There were a few Jews who lived in Monaco prior to World War II. Most of the Jews in Monaco during World War II were Ashkenazim from France who had travelled to Monaco under the belief that they would be safe in a neutral country. Monaco's government issued false papers to protect its Jewish citizens from Nazi persecution, but 90 Jews living in Monaco were deported to concentration camps and only 9 of those Jews survived the war.
The Jewish community of Monaco was founded in 1948, with the creation of the official representative body, the Association Culturelle Israelite de Monaco which was housed in a building in Monte Carlo that was been converted into a synagogue, a community Hebrew school, and kosher food shop.
Today, there are two synagogues. Synagogue Edmond Safra is an Orthodox congregaton housed inside a building that is shaped like a Torah scroll, its cylinder featuring Jerusalem stone tiling. Since 2010, Daniel Torgmant has been the rabbi. Chabad also has a presence in Monaco, holding services in a residential building. Both have a mikvah and hold services on Shabbat. Both have Sunday and Hebrew schools. More observant children attend Jewish schools in Nice, which is also where they get kosher food.
Israel has diplomatic relations with Monaco and is represented by its consul in Marseilles.
On August 28, 2015, Monaco's Prince Albert II formally apologized for his country's role in deporting Jews who were trying to find safe haven. He said, “To say this today is to recognize a fact. To say it today, on this day, before you, is to ask forgiveness.” Also at this ceremony, Prince Albert II unveiled a monument in the Monaco cemetery dedicated to the deported Jews. The Monaco government has also agreed to compensate families for the loss of property seized from deported Jews.
Today, the Jewish community of roughly 2,000 comprises 5 percent of the total population of 38,600. The vast majority live in Monte Carlo. The community is mainly comprised of retired Jews from Britain (40%) and North Africa. There are also several Turkish and French Ashkenazi families. Half the population is Ashkenazi, while the other half are Sephardic.
Original article by Ariel Scheib
Sources: World Jewish Congress;
Michael Zaidner, Jewish Travel Guide 2000, Intl Specialized Book Service, 2000;
CIA World Fact Book;
Cnaan Liphshiz, “Outside of Israel, tiny Monaco has the highest ratio of Jews in the world. Here’s why the community is growing,” JTA, (October 1, 2020).