Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jewish Community of Shanghai

Interesting article in Haaretz about the current Jewish community in Shanghai. Excerpts below:

The Ohel Moshe Synagogue, which once hosted regular services, weddings, and Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, has now been turned into a museum to honor and preserve the memory of the 30,000 Jews who fled from Europe during the Holocaust as well as the few still living in greater Shanghai today.

The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, loacted on the Changyang Road in the Hongkou District, attracts more than 10,000 people each year. It is divided into two areas - the former Ohel Moshe synagogue and the accompanying galleries.

Ohel Moshe was one of seven Jewish temples in Shanghai in that time. Today, only it and Ohel Rachel still stand and neither function normally as active religious sites.

The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum brings in visitors from Europe, Argentina, Thailand, the United States, Australia, Brazil, and a slew of other countries, said Wang Yao Hua, who has served as a guide for the museum over the last eight years.

"The museum is a reminder of the original Orthodox synagogue from 1928," Wang said.

In 2007, the People's Government of Hongkou District allocated the equivalent of $1 million for the renovation of Ohel Moshe. The main architectural body has been restored according to the original drawings found in the city's archives. Built by Russian Jews, it served as a main gathering point for refugees during World War II.

The area above the main hall, where the women used to pray, has been turned into a small museum that hosts temporary exhibits. Pictures of former Israeli prime ministers and other foreign dignitaries who have visited the museum hang on the walls. A section of antiques displays a Singer sewing machine, radio, and violin. A desk is set up in the corner with a computer so visitors can search through the Shanghai Jews database. In the center of the room stands a row of artwork inspired by the plight of the Jewish people.

Click here to read the entire article

More information about Jews in China:

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