MONACO - Highest Ratio of Jews in the World

Arno Froese

This tiny wealthy country on France’s southeastern coast is famous for its beautiful beaches, coastal mansions and splendid casinos. 

Outside of Israel, Monaco also has the highest ratio of Jewish inhabitants of any country in the world, at over 5%, according to statistics provided by its two rabbis.

To be fair, the city-state’s total population is only about 38,600, making it one of the world’s smallest nations. But its some 2,000 Jews are cultivating a growing community thanks in part to a luxurious synagogue opened in 2017.

Synagogue Edmond Safra, which was buoyed by a donation of more than $10 million by the Safra banking family, is housed inside a building that is shaped like a Torah scroll, its cylinder featuring Jerusalem stone tiling. The structure is oriented to see the Mediterranean and the famed Monaco marina—but has no windows to view them.

There is a bit of religious diversity as well, even though both of the state’s synagogues—Safra and a Chabad-Lubavitch movement outpost—are technically Orthodox. Each has members who are not very strictly Orthodox in their own homes, including many Russian-speaking Jews who own businesses, Israeli entrepreneurs, and French- and English-speaking Jews with ties to the banking sector.  

The relative simplicity of Tenhoum Matusof’s synagogue also has its charms for some of Monaco’s middle-class Jews, like the family of Mahnaz Grosjen, an Iran-born mother of two. She and her family moved from Geneva, Switzerland, to Monaco seven years ago at the request of her husband’s employer.

One of the families drawn to the light are Borya and Masha Maisuraje, Russian Jews who are originally from the Republic of Georgia and own a shipping company in Kaliningrad, Russia. They moved to Monaco in 2009 but “had very little to do with Judaism” before the opening of the new synagogue in 2017, Borya said. That year, they decided to plan a bar mitzvah for their youngest son, Alexei.

“It’s welcoming here, it’s a place you immediately feel comfortable in,” Borya Maisuraje said. “We suggested it to Alexei and he immediately said yes.”

Monaco does not have a Jewish school, though both synagogues provide Sunday and Hebrew schools, as well as youth activities during vacations. More observant parents send their children to one of the Jewish schools in Nice, a French city about 10 miles away and also the source for Monaco’s fresh kosher food.

Unlike Nice, where many Jews feel unsafe, walking around with a kippah is no problem in Monaco—anti-Semitic incidents are extremely rare and police have a robust presence. There is about one officer per 70 residents, more than four times the European Union average.

A parliamentary principality with its own royal house, Monaco has a land area that’s smaller than Central Park and is the world’s most densely populated country, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division.

Millionaires constitute a third of the population—a ratio higher than anywhere in the world, according to the 2019 Knight Frank Wealth Report. The annual GDP per capita in Monaco was $185,000 in 2018, more than three times the figure for the United States.

-www.jta.org, 1 October 2020

Arno's commentary

While Monaco is recognized as a sovereign country, its population of only 39,000 compares to a small city anywhere else.

Do the rich live longer? Money helps. Life expectancy stands at 89 years. Regarding medical care, there are 7.5 doctors and 13.8 beds per 1,000 in population. The article mentions a per capita GDP of $185,000. Monaco’s official currency is the euro, and they are apparently quite content with it.

The high percentage of Jews in Monaco is primarily due to security. Wealth, of course, is also a major contributing factor.

Interestingly, Russian Jews, who mostly care little for their Jewishness, found “a place you immediately feel comfortable in.”

Does this article have any relation to Biblical prophecy? We think so, because Jews are an extraordinary people when compared with the rest of the world. Based on Scripture, there is restoration: “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 11:16-17).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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