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Shanghai

SHANGHAI

SHANGHAI , port in Kiangsu province, E. China. It was opened to foreign trade in 1843. A flourishing foreign community developed there, including Jews of various nationalities. They were mostly Sephardim from Baghdad, Bombay, and Cairo, including such well-known families as *Sassoon, *Kadoorie, Hardoon, *Ezra, Shamoon, and Baroukh. There were three synagogues in Shanghai, and between 1904 and 1939, 12 Jewish magazines in English, German, and Russian were founded there. The leading one was Israel's Messenger, a Zionist monthly established in 1904 by N.E.B. Ezra and published until his death in 1936. Before World War i the Jewish population numbered around 700, with 400 Sephardim of Baghdad origin, 250 Europeans, and 50 Americans. Most of them were engaged in commerce, while a few were in the diplomatic service and in medicine or teaching. Their number was substantially increased to around 25,000, first by Jews from Russia fleeing from the 1917 Revolution, then between 1932 and 1940 by refugees from Nazism in Germany and German occupied countries who found out that they could enter the free port of Shanghai without visas. The Japanese closed Shanghai to further immigration and after the outbreak of the Pacific war in December 1941 they deported to Shanghai most of the Jews living in Japan or in transit to other countries. Substantial aid was given locally, especially by Sir Victor Sassoon, Horace Kadoorie, and Paul Komor. Additional funds came from abroad. With the outbreak of the Pacific war, the position of all Jews became desperate. Most of them were kept in semi-internment under miserable conditions in the *Hongkew district, subject to the whim of the Japanese occupation forces. They had great difficulty in finding employment, and most of their property was confiscated under one pretext or another. Almost all of them left Shanghai after World War ii, largely with American help, for Israel, the United States, or other parts of the world. A few elderly people remained to live out their days under the Chinese Communists.

Hebrew Printing

Apart from J.J. Sulaiman's Kunteres Seder ha-Dorot (1921), the main period of Hebrew printing in Shanghai was during World War ii and immediately after (1940–46), when remnants of Lithuanian yeshivot (Mir, Slobodka), as well as Lubavitch Ḥasidim, found refuge in Shanghai and printed – mostly photostatically – rabbinic, ethical, and ḥasidic works in limited editions for their own use. To the 80 items enumerated by Z. Harkavy (in Ha-Sefer, no. 9, 1961, 52–3; Hashlamot le-Mafte'aḥ ha-Mafteḥot (by S. Shunami, 1966), 3–4) have to be added – at least – the above work by J.J. Sulaiman and S. Elberg's Akedat Treblinka (Yid., 1946). Hebrew newspapers were printed in Shanghai as early as 1904.

bibliography:

A. Ginsbourg, Jewish Refugees in Shanghai (Shanghai, 1940); A. Sopher, Chinese Jews (Shanghai, 1926); H. Dicker, Wanderers and Settlers in the Far East (1962), index; yivo, Catalogue of the Exhibition "Jewish Life in Shanghai" (1948); A. Mars, in: jsos, 31 (1969), 286–91.

[Rudolf Loewenthal]

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