Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Focus on China

While the world's eyes are trained on Beijing for the Summer Olympics, which start Friday, Shanghai's Jewish history has been spotlighted recently as well.

Many of the refugees reached Shanghai through the heroic efforts of Ho Fengshan, a Chinese diplomat in Vienna who issued thousands of visas to Austrian Jews. Ho was honored with a special tribute in June.


He came to be known as the "Chinese Schindler," in reference to the German industrialist who saved Jews. Oskar Schindler's life became the story of an Academy Award-winning film, "Schindler's List," by Steven Spielberg.


The consulate and 27 Israeli companies joined to raise approximately $87,000 for Gutman's project detailing Shanghai's Jewish past.


The first step was completed in June, a renovation of the Hongkou Elders’ Activity Center in Huoshan Park, around the corner from the site of the former Ohel Moshe synagogue, now the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.


The funds also were used to set up a database, to be housed at the refugees museum, of names and addresses of Shanghai's Jewish residents. Gutman wants the database to be interactive and eventually include multimedia and information on the whereabouts of descendants.


“Here, after the war, Jews spread all over and there is nothing left, no community, no archives,” Gutman lamented.


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