• History

    The Power of Art – Holocaust Survivor Sara Atzmon’s Hong Kong Exhibition

    by  • 25/02/2014 • Education, Events, History, Holocaust, News • 0 Comments

    IMG_9726                 Hair, 1996

    An exhibition preview of Surviving Evil- The Pictorial Language of Sara Atzmon was held on 25 February 2014 at the University Museum and Art Gallery of The University of Hong Kong. The exhibition was a result of the incredible collaboration of the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Center (HKHTC), the Goethe-Institut Hongkong and the University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery.

    IMG_9714                 Jeremy Amias, Chairman of the HKHTC openning address


    And while Sara Atzmon's art certainly spoke for itself, she was also present to deliver a moving and powerful address that detailed her journey from her childhood in Hungary, through the horrors of the Holocaust and then ultimately to Israel. Her speech was presented in Hebrew and later translated as she explained that the language of Hebrew must be heard outside of Israel also. 

    Atzmon explained in her speech and through her art that "the pain is constantly there" and she spoke of the difficulty of openning old wounds. Her work is a haunting reminder of the devestation suffered and a powerful call for rememberance.

    IMG_9718                 Sara Atzmon

    Consul General of the State of Israel in Hong Kong Sagi Karni, in his address, reminded that our culture is built on memory. He pointed to the irony of the openning of this exhibition in Hong Kong while hundreds of copies of Anne Frank's diary have been destroyed in Tokyo. This further speaks to the importance of such an exhibition in the Far East.

    IMG_9733                  Eyes in the Wire, 1990

    Surviving Evil – The Pictorial Languague of Sara Atzmon runs from February 26th through May 4th at the University Museum and Art Gallery on 90 Bonham Road from 9:30-18:00 on Mondays through Saturdays and from 13:00-18:00 on Sundays. 






    A Glimpse of Jewish Harbin

    by  • 11/02/2014 • Communities, History • 1 Comment

    Harbin, China, today the capital of Heilongjiang Province, while perhaps best known for its Ice Festival, was once known as the “Moscow of the East.” At its height it was also home to over 23,000 Jews (including the grandparents of former prime minister Ehud Olmert) who created their own rich religious, cultural and educational life.

    Even though the last Jewish family left Harbin in 1963 and Judaism isn’t a recognized religion in China, two historic synagogues (the Main/Old and the New Synagogues) as well as various other Jewish institutions, have physically, in some form, seem to have stood the test of time — without Jews.

    CIMG0801              Main (Old) Synagogue

    CIMG0767              Former Jewish School


    B10 - Jewish Buildings - New Synagogue              New Synagogue

    C5 - Cemetery - Chapel                Jewish Cemetery Chapel

    C53 - Cemetery - Solomon Kadish & Girsh Kruglakov             Jewish Cemetery

    B1 - Jewish Buildings - Private Hospital                Former Jewish Hospital




    Karel Weiss Photography Collection: Old Hong Kong

    by  • 16/01/2014 • Communities, History • 0 Comments

    These are just a few photographs from the Karel Weiss collection (courtesy of the Hong Kong Jewish Historical Society). The photographs were taken throughout Hong Kong between the 1940s-1970s.

    Scan 57

    Scan 60 copy

    Scan 58

    Scan 60

    Karel Weiss was born on July 15, 1904. He was originally form Piestany (Postyen), Czechoslovakia and arrived in Hong Kong circa 1930 from Prague.

    KWwithDavidSassoonincenter 001

    He co-founded the Far Eastern Economic Review and also founded the Graphic Press. He wrote a book, The Hong Kong Guide, in 1955.

    He was also the purported Hong Kong bridge champion as well as the Hong Kong chess champion who taught children in the community how to play chess and often sat in the Jewish Club on Sunday mornings playing chess.

    He died on 23 June 1994 and is remembered as a devout Jew who was a daily regular at Hong Kong’s Ohel Leah Synagogue. Many can recall the sound of his cane on the stones as he slowly approached the Synagogue. 

    An Oasis of Survival and Hope (Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre exhibition)

    by  • 19/10/2013 • Communities, Education, Events, History, Holocaust, News • 0 Comments


    This exhibition, featuring artwork by the Children of the Terezin Camp, also showcases artwork produced by pupils from Hong Kong schools as well as information panels about different aspects of the Holocaust and other genocides. It is a useful learning tool for all children learning about World War II, but it is much more than that. It is an important segway into discussions on racism and tolerance generally.


    IMG_7818Each individual piece of work created by Hong Kong students demonstrates an unparalleled sense of empathy and understanding of the meaning of the Holocaust. 



    The three dimensional artwork was particularly impactful. 






    The exhibition will run from October 15-November 15, 2013 in the Central Market Walkway (between Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road).

    The fact that an exhibition of this importance has been given a location so central in Hong Kong is a tremendous statement as to the character of the people of Hong Kong.

    For more information, see the article in The Times of Israelhttp://www.timesofisrael.com/in-a-hong-kong-walkway-a-very-public-holocaust-exhibit/

    Photographs of Jewish Moscow

    by  • 24/09/2013 • Communities, History, The World • 0 Comments

    A February trip to Moscow for Asian Jewish Life's founder Erica Lyons for participation in the Sefer International Conference on Jewish Studies (http://www.sefer.ru/eng/about/) was a great opportunity to explore a Jewish community with a bright future. 

    For a full story on the conference, please see Erica's eJewish Philanthropy story Studying the Future of Russian Jewry at http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/studying-the-future-for-russian-jewry/

    The conference was housed in the uber-modern Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.










    The museum is filled with interactive and very high-tech exhibits (most with English translations). 



    Nearby is the Chabad Community Center and Synagogue.


    The Jewish Community Center (Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Centre) houses a number of differen organizations and institutions including a wonderful preschool.


    A visit to the Choral Synagogue is a must. It is unbelievably beautiful and steeped in history. 

    IMG_6460IMG_6424A number of other organizations and congregations are located in the same building.
















    Lastly, for a walk through history, see the Museum of the Jewish History in Russia.




    A Search for Family Roots

    by  • 23/08/2013 • AJL News, Communities, History • 0 Comments

    It has been a long summer hiatus for Asian Jewish Life. I personally spent the summer visiting family and as if this wasn’t enough family time for me, I also started a genealogy family research project hoping to learn more about my root.

    While in the midst of my own project, AJL was contacted by a family in Canada hoping to trace their family roots. They have little to go on save for names and one photo, but they have been told that their photo (circa 1905), based on the clothing and head covering (kippahs), strongly suggests that they have Cochin Jewish roots.


    The photo is of the family of Hannah Jaikumar. They know that the photo was taken in 1905 in the southern part of India. The elderly gentleman seated in the middle is named Jeremiah and the small boy (his son) is Samuel. The smaller of the two girls is Hannah (Hannah Jaikumar’s namesake and grandmother). 

    If you have any information for the family, please feel free to comment or email us at info@asianjewishlife.org. They are very eager to discover more about their roots.



    Postcards of Calcutta India Jewish Theatre

    by  • 17/06/2013 • Art & Culture, Communities, History, The World • 2 Comments


    There have been a number of recent articles on the Jews of Bollywood and even a new documentary, 'Shalom Bollywood’, that will tell their story. 

    The beautiful images here feature a rare look at Jews on the Indian stage. They are all part of Stephanie Comfort's vintage postcard collection from Calcutta India Jewish Theatre. There will be other images from this collection in the upcoming print issue of Asian Jewish Life (June 2013, Issue 12).


    A very special thank you to Stephanie for her permission to include these in AJL but especially for making her collection public. Stephanie has been collecting postcards of Jewish life, synagogues and towns from around the world for many years. Tour her incredible 15,000+ Jewish postcard collection at http://jewishpostcardcollection.com. It is truly remarkable.

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