SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY
A CENTENNIAL ASSOCIATION
17 March 2021
TOUR OF EURASIAN HERITAGE GALLERY
The Chinese Women’s Association takes the pandemic situation in its stride and turns restrictions into opportunities for members to learn more about our communities in small intimate groups. This opportunity also allow members to contribute to charity with all proceeds going to the CWA-NUS Bursary. A delightful midweek special afternoon tour was organised on Wednesday 17 March at the Eurasian Association Heritage Gallery for members to learn more about the fun-loving Eurasians. This was followed by lunch, limited to 8 members. The affair started with a docent led tour of the Heritage Gallery by Ms Valerie Scully who was with the Eurasian Association for three decades. The engaging heritage attraction takes everyone who were there through the history and culture of the Eurasian community in Singapore. The Eurasian Heritage Centre explores the rich history and culture of this diverse community through different exhibitions, three heritage galleries as well as special activities. The scrumptious lunch included much loved dishes hosted by Mrs Celeste Basapa. Foodies will enjoy traditional Eurasian dishes at Quentin’s Eurasian Restaurant, the Eurasian Community House’s in-house restaurant. Try the super-spicy Devil’s Curry, Oxtail Stew, Beef Cottage Pie and for dessert, the traditional sugee cake, a nutty cake made from semolina and almonds and topped with marzipan or icing. It was a most enjoyable event for us.
27 February 2021
CWA was delighted that Baba Peter Lee and his brother Baba John Lee, great-grandnephews of our founder, Mrs Lee Choon Guan, agreed to host a series of “At Home” events to benefit the CWA-NUS Bursary. The inaugural event was attended by ladies of the Executive Committee on 27 February 2021. They included our Patron Mrs Betty Chen, President Mrs Joan Yim, Vice-president Mrs Vivienne Tan, Treasurer Ms Trina Lim, Committee Members Mrs Adeline Lim, Mrs Margaret Wong, Ms Chew Seong Ling and Mrs Celeste Basapa. At 12.30 pm, guests were ushered into the library where, after a special welcome drink, Peter gave an account of the exotic “old world of the culturally mixed up”. In essence, this was a short but succinct history of Singapore’s cultural heritage befitting our strategic maritime location between the East and West. Lunch was a sumptuous affair with the table beautifully adorned with pink and green Peranakan antiques and matching and luxurious blooms of hydrangeas and roses. The menu was a specially curated three course affair from the recipes of Peter’s late and beloved mother Mrs Elizabeth Lee. It included a selection of Peranakan entrees, Nasi Ulam and dessert. The meal was served on exquisite Peranakan porcelain. Sparkling conversation resulted from the Lees’ expert and seemingly effortless hosting, and lubricated further by Seong Ling’s generous sponsorship of wines. Coffee and tea were served in the lounge while John played the piano and sang two songs written by his brother Dick Lee, “My Old Hometown Katong” and “Bunga Sayang”. The lovely melodies and soothing voice served to calm the ladies down before Peter brought out the heirlooms that will set all into a frenzy. The first was a beautiful Christian Dior fully beaded cheongsam on a mannequin that had almost everyone wanting to take a photo with it. Before we could get over it, Peter showed us a tray of Peranakan jewellery that wowed all the ladies present. The afternoon ended with our President presenting a copy of CWA Journal with Mrs Lee Choon Guan on the cover to our gracious hosts. The Lees will hold five more events at their residence throughout the months of March, April and May
14TH of January, 2021
INCREDIBLE JEWISH AND EDEN HALL TOUR
EXPLORING THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUES AND HERITAGE IN SINGAPORE during the pandemic met with positive vibes and excitement by all eight of us (well, eight is the maximum number including our able guide, Catalina, allowed under Phase Three’s safety measures). We were blessed with great weather – cool temperature and no downpour or drizzle - in the midst of an unusual rainy spell in Singapore.
With a mind to cater to the discerning explorers amongst us who sought an alternative to the mainstream tours, our private CWA-Jewish Tour by Jane’s Singapore Tour included an exclusive visit to Eden Hall, the residence of the British High Commissioner at the end of our visit to the two synagogues. We were warmly met by H.E. Kara Owen upon arrival and even managed to take an amazing photo with her on the marble stone steps in front of the iconic residence. It blew me away when I saw the photo, and I must tell you I had the privilege of being invited to Eden Hall more than a few times including holding a few British Theatre Playhouse ‘meet the cast’ receptions there, but never had a picture of Eden Hall been so captivating and arresting as this particular picture.
Our tour kicked off at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue located on Waterloo Street and designated as a national monument of Singapore on 27 February 1998. Constructed in 1878, it is the oldest synagogue in South East Asia and stands in what used to be the country’s Jewish quarter. Elegance in simplicity, the building boasts a simple neoclassical façade. We were met and given a detailed guided tour by Rabbi Avroham who just arrived in Singapore from New York, and when we stepped inside into the prayer hall, it was like being taken away to a temple in Jerusalem – the ‘bimah’ (altar from which the Torah - the ‘Jewish bible’ is read) faces the ‘ahei’ (alcove), situated in a niche on an elevated area at the west wall of the hall. Within the ‘ahei’ is the Torah, which is covered by the ‘parochet’ (a richly embroidered fringed curtain). Hanging in front is the eternal lamp, a symbol of the eternal flame that burned in what was once the Temple of Jerusalem. The hall has a second-storey U-shaped balcony for women, which was only added in later years. We stepped out of the hall, took the lift to another section of the building, met the lovely Rabbi Mordechai Abergel inside the lift and happened on a small shop, which offers kosher food, from bread, biscuits, sweets and falafel, to noodles, pasta and raw meats. Did we stop to shop? The truth, yes! Mahallah After Maghain Aboth, we were taken in a private van to the Mahallah, Singapore’s old Jewish quarter with its iconic buildings (David Elias Building and Ellison Building which display the Star of David prominently) and drove around Dhoby Ghaut green (former Jewish cemetery), Sophia Road, Selegie Road, Prinsep Street and Bras Basah Road.
The Jewish quarter was called the ‘mahallah’ (Arabic for ‘place’) and was also the place where you can find kosher meats. Chesed-El Synagogue We were shuttled to the newly restored and magnificent Chesed-El Synagogue in Oxley Rise. And were greeted by Rabbi Nissim from Columbia who gave us a tour of the house of worship and assembly for the Jewish community. The synagogue is constructed in 1905 and designated as world heritage site on 18 December 1998. As the Jewish community grew (from Jews from Europe as well as Asia) beyond the Maghain Aboth Synagogue's capacity, there was a need for this second place of worship, which was built in the late-Renaissance style. To the right of the entrance is a plaque stating that Sir Manasseh Meyer built the synagogue and the designer of the building was architect R.A.J. Bidwell of Swan and MacLaren, the largest architectural firm in Singapore at that time. Maghain Aboth Synagogue at Waterloo Street and Rabbi Avroham Menorah lamp Chesed-El Synagogue at Oxley The Jewish tour was organised by Cecilia Leong-Faulkner for the CWA with the help and support of Jane's SG Tours and attended by Celeste Basapa,
Report by Cecilia Leong-Faulkner Photography by Rosalynn Tay
1st Feb 2020
2020 CNY LUNCHEON
We started the new year 2020 with a fund raising CNY Luncheon at One Farrer Hotel on 1st Feb 2020. Ladies turned up in sarong kebayas for the Peranakan theme event and many ladies enjoyed the dancing and live music. More than 200 members and guests attended the event which was graced by Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC Ms Joan Pereira and several members of the diplomatic corp. Ms Cecilia Faulkner Leong, Mrs Mei Reading, Mrs Joan Yim, Ms Keng Yeng Pheng, Ms Petrina Lim and Mrs Adeline Lim.
CWA continued to donate to the Queenstown Secondary School bursary to support students who are financially challenged. We postponed our Annual General Meeting from May to 27th September 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and conducted the meeting via Zoom.
Several suggestions were made to keep members meaningfully
occupied. A cooking class at At-Sunrice was organised for members in October 2020. On 6th December, CWA launched the CWA-NUS Bursary at Yan’s Dining. The organising committee will be planning more events in 2021 to support this initiative. I wish to record my heartfelt thanks to the resilience and unwavering support of members of the Executive Committee during this period of uncertainty.