Jewish Heritage Report
Vol. I, Nos. 3-4 / Winter 1997-98
Shanghai Synagogue

Proposed Restoration for Shanghai Synagogue

Since 1995, a proposal for the restoration of the Ohel Moishe Synagogue in Shanghai has circulated. The synagogue, which was built in 1907 by Russian Jews fleeing persecution and massacres in Russia and Eastern Europe, also served as a haven for European Jews, beginning in the 1930s, who were evading Nazi oppression. Encouraged by the Nazi government in the 1940s, the Japanese authorities created a "Designated Area of Stateless Refugees" to which all Jews were confined. Though the conditions in the area were wretched, the Jews managed to retain the semblance of a normal life and the synagogue remained in use. Following the war, Jews gradually left the area, but Hankou district authorities have reportedly maintained the synagogue as a small museum. In nearby Huosha Park, a tablet in memory of the Jewish refugees was erected. In 1995, synagogue restoration costs were estimated at almost $100,000 which includes repairs to both the interior and exterior of the structure. ISJM asks readers with more information on this building and its current status to submit information to the JHR editor.

In related news, in the fall of 1996, Pan Guang, the Dean of the Center for Jewish Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, undertook a project to document the oral histories of the Jews who fled to China.

A recent documentary film about Jews who found sanctuary in Shanghai in the late 1930s, Exile Shanghai by filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger, was shown in New York in November 1997 at the American Museum of Natural History's Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival and at the Museum of Modern Art. The film was reviewed in the NY Jewish Week (November 7, 1997).
- SG

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Updated: 23-July-98