Before we get into detail about Jewish Culture in Malta, let’s just make sure everyone is aware of where Malta is. We are located 58 miles south of Sicily, 309 miles from Tunisia and 290 miles from Libya
We have evidence that at the time the Phoenicians were occupying Malta, the first Jews landed on Gozo Island and there they left behind the first signs of their presence. You can find this on an inscription (pictured here) which was discovered at one of the ancient temples of Gozo. Translated this inscription reads: "To the love of our Father Jahwe."
The first Jew known to have set foot on Malta was Paul of Tarsus (still a Jew called Saul), whose ship was shipwrecked on a tiny rock off of Malta in 62 CE. The site in which he is said to have been shipwrecked at is called the St. Paul’s Islands.
This is what the St. Paul Islands look like today and a monument stands here marking this shipwreck event. In Malta we can also find the grotto where he stayed as a prisoner which is available to visitors to our islands.
Greek inscriptions and menorah-decorated tombs indicate that Jews and early Christians lived on Malta during the 4th and 5th centuries. We specifically have a site that can be visited by travelers called St. Paul’s Catacombs where Jewish, Christian and Pagan catacombs lay beside each other.
In 1479 Malta and Sicily came under Aragonese rule and the 1492 Edict of Expulsion forced all Jews to leave the country. Because they made up such a large portion of the island's population the Spanish Crown forced them to pay compensation for the losses caused by their expulsion. It is not clear where the Jews of Malta went, but they may have joined the Sicilian community in Levant. It is also likely that several dozen Maltese Jews converted to Christianity to remain in the country as did many Sicilian Jews. This is further evidenced by the large number of Maltese surnames thought to be of Jewish origin.
During World War II, Malta was the only country that did not require Jews fleeing Nazi Europe to have a visa. Consequently, Malta rescued thousands of Jews from persecution.
Since the 1950s, Israel and Malta have had friendly political and economic relations.
What’s the appeal?
• Only English speaking country in the Mediterranean
• Over 7000 years of civilization making it the ideal destination for cultural enthusiasts
• Some of the clearest waters in the world can be found here
• Temples dating back to 3,600, older than the pyramids & Stonehenge by 1000 years
• Superb accommodations at the sea’s edge or inland within villages
• Malta enjoys more than 3000 hours of sunshine each year
• The average temperature is around 23 Degrees Celsius or 77 Degrees Fahrenheit
• The Knights of Malta (St. John) built up the island – especially the magnificent City of Valletta which in 2018 is the European Capital of Culture
• Short distances between exceptional experiences, landmarks and beaches