i was amazed by the history, architecture, people and culture there. Amazingly, people there are very friendly, one old lady told me about her Jewish neigbour she had in 1941. One man invited me into his lane house. It changed my perception of Shanghainese being snobish and arrogant. More amazingly, i did not meet a single tourist while I was there.
Fast track to last week, I passed by the area again and sadly in the name of urbanization, many of the old houses are gone and i can no longer recognize the former "Jewish Ghettoes" again.
In this series of my pictures, I would like to humbly present some of pictures taken by me on my "lucky day" on May 11, 2003 in the former"Jewish Ghettoes".
Oh my god - its almost 10 years ago !
The Shanghai ghetto (上海隔都), formally known as the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees (無国籍難民限定地区), was an area of approximately one square mile in the Hongkou District of Japanese-occupied Shanghai, to which about 20,000 Jewish refugees were relocated by the Japanese-issued Proclamation Concerning Restriction of Residence and Business of Stateless Refugees after having fled from German-occupied Europe before and during World War II.
The refugees were settled in the poorest and most crowded area of the city. Local Jewish families and American Jewish charities aided them with shelter, food and clothing. The Japanese authorities increasingly stepped up restrictions, but the ghetto was not walled, and the local Chinese residents, whose living conditions were often as bad, did not leave.
The authorities were unprepared for massive immigration and the arriving refugees faced harsh conditions in the impoverished Hongkou District: 10 per room, near-starvation, disastrous sanitation and scant employment.
The Baghdadis and later the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) provided some assistance with the housing and food problems. Faced with language barriers, extreme poverty, rampant disease and isolation, the refugees were able to make the transition from being supported by welfare agencies to establishing a functioning community. Jewish cultural life flourished: schools were established, newspapers were published, theaters produced plays, sports teams participated in training and competitions and even cabarets thrived.
The Ohel Moshe Synagogue served as a religious center for the Russian Jewish community since 1907 (currently the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, located at 62 Changyang Road, Hongkou District). In April 1941, a modern Ashkenazic Jewish synagogue was built (called the New Synagogue)