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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jews in Shanghai

 Passover is the season to celebrate freedom.  The Jews who left Austria and came to Shanghai's Hong Kuo neighborhood didn't entirely leave Yiddish culture behind them, but they also blended in with the Chinese around them. 
This little museum to the ever so brief time that Jews lived in Shanghai during WWII and left when Mao came to power.  This was not the first time that Jews lived in China.  They were there as early as the 7th century, and had a trading presence through the Song, Tang, and into the Qing dynasties, but always as little communities and often times assimilating.  Jews who came from Austria worked to learn the language and be a part of the immigrant rich Hong Kuo neighborhood.  They were largely accepted as well.
The temple that was established by those refugees is now home to the Shanghai Refugee Museum, which is a very inspirational place to go.  There are lots of things that people brought with them and then left behind, as well as photographs and videotaped stories of many people who took shelter in this neighborhood after literally fleeing with their lives. They talked about all the great things that happened to them, and left out all the terror and misery.  They were very grateful for what China did for them, even though at the time, Shanghai was an occupied city.  So they didn't escape war, but they did escape concentration camps and almost certain death.

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