Jewish Shanghai Worth the Visit

I highly recommend Dvir Bar-Gal‘s entertaining and informative walking tours of Jewish Shanghai. You will see a side of Shanghai that most people don’t know exists and gain a greater understanding of the city’s past. Dvir is working to preserve old parts of Shanghai, something that interests too few people.

Old Maps: Paul French, a journalist and director of Access Asia, has reproduced a lovely 1935 map of Shanghai produced by adman Carl Crow. (About whom Paul wrote a biography). To get a copy – if he still has any left – contact Paul on +86-21-6374-5679 or paul at accessasia.co.uk.

The Municipal Council’s map, issued for visitors to Shanghai in 1935, shows a city that had grown up in the previous 20 years — by 1935 the Bund was formed pretty much as we know it today and the International Concession reached out past the race course, now People’s Square. One interesting thing to note is that when supposed old hands in Shanghai tell you Pudong was nothing but fields and farms when they came here you’ll know they are bullshitting — the map shows how Pudong was a thriving factory area then around what is now Lujiazui.

Graham Earnshaw also has a nice collection of Shanghai maps online.

A list of some famous Shanghai Jews by Ron Gluckman:

The Kadoories – Family made its fortune in Shanghai and Hong Kong real estate, utilities and their Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotel chain (which includes the famed Peninsula).

The Sassoons – One-time opium traders who went big-time into trading and property.

Morris Cohen – Known by his nickname Two-Gun Cohen, he served as bodyguard and aide-de-camp to Sun Yat-sen, eventually becoming a Chinese general.

Dr. Jakob Rosenfeld – An Austrian who spent nine years overseeing health care for the Communist army.

Michael Medavoy – Lived in Shanghai until age 7, he went onto a career as Hollywood mogul at Columbia, Orion and TriStar Pictures.

Peter Max – Influential American pop artist born in Germany, but spent 10 years in Shanghai.

Mike Blumenthal – U.S. Treasury Secretary.

Eric Halpern – Co-founder of the Far Eastern Economic Review and first editor.

(h/t to the Shanghaiist for the Paul French quote.)

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7 comments

  1. That’s very interesting. Thanks. I heard there is a 1 billion US$ Jewish quarter renovations plan. Know anything about that?

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  4. Sara

    I also took Dvir's tour and it was excellent. He took us to the Jewish refugees museum – one of 2 existing synagogue's still standing and told us about the othe synagogue Ohel Rachel, which was just renovated and reopened (!!) in May 2010, special for the Expo. We went for Shabbat services and had a great time! They have a delicious shabbat meal after the service, too, with people from all over the world.

  5. Sara

    I also took Dvir's tour and it was excellent. He took us to the Jewish refugees museum – one of 2 existing synagogue's still standing and told us about the othe synagogue Ohel Rachel, which was just renovated and reopened (!!) in May 2010, special for the Expo. We went for Shabbat services and had a great time! They have a delicious shabbat meal after the service, too, with people from all over the world.

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