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Monaco Virtual Jewish History Tour

[By: Ariel Scheib]

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. Today, the vast majority of the Jewish community lives in Monte Carlo. The community is mainly comprised of retired Jews from Britain (40%) and North Africa. Approximately 1,000 Jews live today in Monaco. There are also several Turkish and French Ashkenazi families. Half the population is Ashkenazi, while the other half are Sephardic.

The Association Culturelle Israelite de Monaco is a house that has been converted into a synagogue, a community Hebrew school, and kosher food shop, all located in Monte Carlo. The community does have a rabbi, Rabbi M. Isaac Amsellem, who leads weekly services and teaches classes. There are weekly services on Shabbat. Several organizations, including WIZO and B’nai B’rith, are active in the Jewish community of Monaco.

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.

Sources: World Jewish Congress; Zaidner, Michael. Jewish Travel Guide 2000. Intl Specialized Book Service, 2000; AmyIsrael; CIA World FactBook