Shanghai Jews

In the history of Shanghai, especially from 1850s to 1950s, Jews made an important cultural impact on the economic and development of Shanghai. There are many Jewish sites that still stand, which can tell you the story of Jews in Shanghai.

Shanghai Jewish History

  • Jewish life in Shanghai dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. They made an important cultural impact on the economic and development of Shanghai. During the World War II, the city saved an estimated 30,000 Jewish lives by welcoming refugees fleeing the Nazis.
  • The First Wave of Jewish Migration to Shanghai (1843-1920): Mainly doing business in Shanghai.
  • The Second Wave of Jewish Migration to Shanghai (1920-1937)
    - The migration of thousands of Russian Jews first move to Northeast China, and later to Shanghai. these Jews played an active and important role in the development of Shanghai by taking part in real estate and the stock exchange,.
  • The Third Wave (1938-1952, during World War II) 
    - From 1938 on, some 20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria escaped to Shanghai, the only place in the world that did not require a visa to enter. Between 1939 and 1940, approximately 1,000 Polish Jews escaped to Shanghai. By the end of the war, Shanghai was home to approximately 24,000 Jews.
  • After the Communist revolution in 1949, the Jewish population largely left the country.
  • The Jewish Community of Shanghai now has 250 Jews, living and working in the city from 12 different countries .The population growing by 30% annually. Thousands of Jewish visitors pass through the city on a regular basis, including businesspeople and tourists.

Jewish Site: Ohel Rachel Synagogue

  • Ohel Rachel Synagogue, Shanghai Jewish School
  • This is the most important Jewish Community building still standing today and remains the most significant symbol of the crucial Jewish role in Shanghai's history. It was built in 1920, and was used from 1920 to 1952.
  • The main entrance is located at Shaanxi North Road. The site hosted the Shanghai Jewish School.
  • Ohel Rachel was the first of seven synagogues built in Shanghai, and only one of two still standing Today. The other, the Ohel Moishe Synagogue located in Hong Kou district.
  • The Ohel Rachel Synagogue has been renovated and restored in time for the Shanghai 2010 Expo, and is now open for weekly Shabbat services and Shabbat meals! The synagogue is beautiful and it is a must-do for any Jewish visitor.

Jewish Site: Shanghai Jewish Club

  • Kadoorie, Abraham, Hayim, Moses, and Ezras 
    - Some of these homes are not easily accessible anymore because of walls or for reasons of ownership. You can probably sneak a peak without an appointment as it is used as the city's "Childrens's Palace" for youth extracurricular activities. The Moses house on Huashan Road Hospital.
  • Shanghai Jewish Club, now Music Conseratory
    - Located on Fenyang Road, south of Huai Hat Road.

  • Ohel Moishe Synagogue and Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum
  • The Ohel Moishe Synagogue was built in 1927, and now hosts a museum dedicated to the history of the Jewish experience in Shanghai. During WWII this area was the home of approximately 20,000 refugees from Central Europe. You can visit the Museum at 62 Changyang Road in the Hongkou District.
  • Opening hours: on weekdays from 9:00am to 4:30pm.
  • Entrance Fee: 50 RMB , for Students 10 RMB 

  • Stars of David 
    - Walk down Nanjing Road from the cemetery towards the Bund. A Star of David marks a house inside the Jewish ghetto in Hongkou. At its peak, Shanghai housed 30,000 Jewish refugees.

Other Jewish Sites in Shanghai

  • Jewish Hospital, now Eye-Nose Hospital 
    - Located at 83 Fen Yang Road (formerly rue Pichon).
  • Jewish Recreation Club
    - This building was the center of the Community's sports activities. Located on Mao Ming North Road around the corner from the Abraham house.
  • Original Cemetery
    - Originally known as the "Israeli Cemetery". Located in the small park on the corner of Huang Pi Bei Road and Nanjing Road.
  • Beth Aharon Synagogue
    - Located on Hu Qiu Road and near the Bund.
  • The Old Ghetto Allies
    - From February 1943 the Japanese forces nearly 20,000 Jewish refugees to live in small area in the over- crowded Hong Kou district. The place became a ghetto where both Jews and Chinese shared years of hardship.
  • Old Market Area. Uptown Theater, Jewish Shops
    - Walk down Shaanxi North Road and turn west (right) on Nanjing Road. Here were many Jewish small retail shops because of the high concentration of customers.
  • Exhibition Hall, onee Hardoon Gardens 
    - The whole complex, now known as the Shanghai Exhibition Center. 

If you are interested in taking a Shanghai tour with a visiting to any of the Jewish sites, China Odyssey Tours is here and ready to help. Contact us.

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