• Archive for May, 2013

    A Walk through Historic Jewish Shanghai

    by  • 20/05/2013 • Communities, Events, History, Holocaust, The World • 3 Comments

    Former JDC Headquarters, Hongkou Ghetto                    Site of the former JDC headquarters, Hongkou Ghetto

    Shanghai's Huoshan Park Memorial to the Jewish Refugees

    Though Judaism isn’t even one of China’s recognized religions, there is a growing contemporary expat community in China that exists not far from extraordinary sites steeped in Jewish history. 

    The story of the Jews in Shanghai begins around the 1840s with the arrival of the city’s first Baghdadi Jewish population. This group was followed by the arrival of Russian Jews, but the story of Shanghai’s Jewish past would have perhaps remained but a footnote had it not been for the remarkable story of the Jewish Holocaust refugees in Shanghai. The city took in and sheltered nearly 17,000 Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust. Their story in Shanghai is one of struggle and survival but also a story of a people who continued to live and thrive despite major obstacles and serious deprivations.

    Former Ohel Moshe Synagogue                                                          Former Ohel Moshe Synagogue

    Whereas Shanghai past once boasted 6 synagogues, today, but only two still stand. Neither is in use for its intended purposes. The former Ohel Rachel Synagogue, built in 1917, is now part of the Chinese Education Ministry. Ohel Moshe, built in 1927, now houses the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum in the Hongkou District, once home to the Jewish Holocaust refugees.

    IMG_7297                    Former Ohel Rachel Synagogue


    Other sites of Jewish historic importance include: the Kadoorie family’s former home Marble Hall, now the Shanghai Children’s Palace, the Peace Hotel, formerly owned by Sir Victor Sassoon, and the Shanghai Jewish Club, now part of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. 


                                                                              Former Shanghai Jewish Club


    Little Vienna                    Cafe Atlantic & Horn's signs from area once known as "Little Vienna"

    A Glimpse of Jewish Budapest

    by  • 13/05/2013 • Communities, History, Holocaust, The World • 0 Comments


    Before I fully mentally unpack from my trip to Budapest for the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress, I wanted to share a quick glimpse of Jewish Budapest. 

    The Holocaust Memorial (Emanuel Tree), Raoul Wallenberg Park 



    Dohany Street Synagogue 
















    Childhood Home of United States Congressman & Holocaust Survivor Tom Lantos (1928-2008)










    Hungarian Jewish Museum 



                       Jewish Cemetery Gates near the town of Szentendre


    Shoes on the Danube

    IMG_7384                        IMG_7393

    Sketches of Shanghai Life by Friedrich Schiff

    by  • 02/05/2013 • Art & Culture, History • 4 Comments


    Thanks to a recent blog post by Sikhs in Shanghai (http://sikhsinshanghai.wordpress.com), we stumbled across the work of Friedrich Schiff (1908-68) an Austrian Jewish artist who first visited Shanghai in 1930. The colorful life of the city and its people quickly drew him in and Schiff ended up making the city his home for approximately 14 years.

    He is best known for his iconic and colorful caricatures of the city's daily life in the International Settlement in the 1930s and 1940s. His China sketches beautifully capture the lives of everyone from police to coolies to expats to sailors to sing-song girls (and of course Sikhs too). His unique signature style undoubtedly continues to influence many China/ Asia sketch artists today.

    Schiff is also well known for his successful collaboration with photojournalist Ellen Thorbecke that produced a series of illustrated books about China focused on Peking (1934), Shanghai (1938), and Hong Kong (1938).