There was a large and varied Jewish community in Old Shanghai. They were some of the richest people in the city, and built many of the grandest structures, including the Cathay Hotel on the Bund, pictured on the left, the creation of Victor Sassoon, part of a famous and powerful Iraqi Jewish mercantile family and horse-racing fan who once remarked: "There is only one race greater than the Jews and that's the Derby."
Most of the long-term Jewish families were Sephardi, as opposed to be Ashkenazi Jewish refugees who came later, mostly to escape the horrors of Nazism in Europe in the 1930s.
The Jews lived all over town, until in 1943, the Japanese sent all "stateless persons" tyo live in a "restricted area" in the Hongkou District to the northeast of the Bund, across Suzhou Creek. It bwas never referred to as a Jewish area or ghetto, but that is what it was in fact -- the stateless Russians were never forced to move there. The main streets in the ghetto area were Ward Road (Changyang Lu), Wayside Road (Houshan Lu), Baikal Road (Huiming Lu) and Chusan Road (Zhoushan Lu).
There were at least seven synagogues, and many Jewish hospitals and schools,
most of which have been completely or partially demolished. Those that survive
are listed here:
Ohel Rachel: 500 Shaanxi Bei Lu. Founded by Sir Jacob Sassoon, father of Victor, in his wife's memory, consecrated in 1920. Now occupied by the Shanghai Education Bureau.
Ohel Moishe: 62 ChangYang Lu, Hongkou. The original synagogue was founded in 1907 and moved to this site in 1927. It was a synagogue for Orthodox Russian and German Jews. It was also the headquarters of the Zionist youth organization Brith Trumpeldor (Betar). Mainly preserved; it was aat one time the isolation ward of the Shanghai Mental Hospital, but is now an office building with two small rooms reserved as a museum of Jewish life.
New Synagogue: 102 Xiang Yang Nan Lu. Built and consecrated in 1941. Services continued until 1956, now a nightclub.
The Shanghai Jewish School: at 500 Shaanxi Bei Lu. First founded in 1900 by D.E.J. Abraham on the grounds of Sheerith Israel, the new school was founded in 1932 by Horace Kadoorie on the grounds of Ohel Rachel. Well preserved; now occupied by the Shanghai Education Bureau.
The Shanghai Jewish Hospital: on Fenyang Lu. It was originally B'nai Brith Polyclinic, founded in 1934, and adopted the new name in 1942. Well preserved, it is now the Shanghai E.N.T. (Otolaryngological) Hospital.
There were four main Jewish cemeteries but all have been demolished. The first was built in 1862 on Mohawk Road (now Huang Bi Bei Lu); the second was on Baikal Road (now Hui Ming Lu); the third was on Columbia Road (now Fanyu Road); the fourth was on Point Road.
The Jewish Club on Fenyang Lu was founded by Russian Jews mainly for music performances. It is well preserved and is now occupied by the Shanghai Conserrvatory of Music. The Jewish Recreational Club (JRC), founded in 1912, was at 35 Mulmein Road (now Mao Ming Bei Lu) and is now a multi-family dwelling.
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