The Jewish community of the Philippines is very old, and very diverse. A group in the Visayas archipelago is a lost tribe, descended from Jews who arrived in the 13th century. Their language shares several fascinating links with Hebrew, and the group (which has taken to calling themselves “Balik Hebrew”) is currently experiencing a renaissance. The Philippines also has a growing community of B’nei Anusim, Jews forcibly converted to christianity during the Spanish Inquisition. When Spain began to colonize the Philippines in the 16th century, Bnei Anusim arrived as colonizers, secretly keeping many Jewish practices.
Today, there are also mainstream established Jewish communities in the Philippines, particularly in Manilla. Finally, a growing Noahide movement has emerged across the archipelago. Some Noahide communities have sought conversion or Jewish practice, and have adopted a Haredi form of Judaism.
Kulanu works closely with Q’hilot Benai Yisrael, a community in General Santos City founded in 1996, and led to this day, by Rabbi Avraham Coalesce Browne. As of 2020, Q’hilot numbers about 14-15 B’nei Anusim families. Kulanu has supported the Gen Santos community since 2019 by providing financial support for synagogue upkeep, and has donated a Torah Scroll, prayer books, and chumashim (pentuachs).
Articles and Links
A Tale of Two Torahs By Avraham ben Avraham (2020)
Kulanu Speaker Series: Rabbi Avraham Coalesce Browne on the Jewish Communities of the Philippines (2020)
Source: “ONLINE SPEAKER SERIES: Rabbi Avraham Coalesce Browne in the Philippines,” YouTube video, 1:01:07, posted by “Kulanu, Inc,” April 23, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/