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Jewish Travel in China
It is gratifying that most of the living traces of Jews, historic buildings and their communities are well preserved in Shanghai, and part of Kaifeng Jewish community has been survived after eroding for hundreds of years.
We suggest Private China Tours including cities of Shanghai and Kaifeng if you are planning to rediscover the heritage of Jewish footsteps in China.
Individuals leading Jewish tours of China and/or consulting on Jewish travel to China include: longtime SJI board member (and Chinese-speaking) Dr. Wendy Abraham (www.chinaorientations.com); Rabbi Marvin Tokayer (www.jewisheyes.com), whose trips are kosher; Cantor Joy Katzen-Guthrie (http://joyfulnoise.net or http://www.joyfulnoise.net/
Sites in Kaifeng
Jewish Sites to Visit: Kaifeng Municipal Museum has the original stelae, rubbings, and several other objects in an attractive but meagre exhibit, still locked away on its top floor, but accessible to tourists upon request. The Song Dynasty Park has a good photo exhibit on the Kaifeng Jews, donated by Sino-Judaic Institute, that should be accessible to everyone but is still only open by special request. The Merchant Guild Temple, Gan Gan Si, has a small but good exhibit in Chinese on the Kaifeng Jews as well as a recently-returned bowl from the Royal Ontario Museum. Guo Yan and the Zhao family maintain a small private museum in the last remaining Jewish home on the old Teaching Torah Lane. As of this writing, the Shi family's private museum is in the process of being relocated from its family compound.
Sites in Shanghai
Jewish Sites to Visit: the Hongkou ghetto and Holocaust memorial, the Ohel Moishe Refugee Museum, the Peace hotel (built by Sir Victor Sassoon), and the Children’s Palace (Sir Kadoorie’s former home). All are easily accessible. A guide is highly recommended for the Hongkou ghetto. Ohel Rachel, the former synagogue built by the Baghdadi Jews, is now a government facility and is not generally open to the public.
- Jewish Refugees Museum in the former Ohel Moishe Synagogue
Changyang Lu 62, Hongkou District
Tel: 021 6512-0229 or 021 6541-6312
Built in 1927 by Russian Ashkenazim, it no longer serves as a synagogue but as a museum devoted to the Jewish experience in Shanghai. Visitors are welcome on weekdays from 9am to 4pm. Entrance Fee: 50 RMB
All of the following tour providers are recommended. All are fee-for-service.
- Tours by the Center for Jewish Studies Shanghai (CJSS) staff can provide assistance in making reservations or arrangements for a one-day tour of "Jewish Sites in Shanghai" with Hebrew/English-speaking guides, or scheduling a meeting, seminar, or forum with the professors and graduate students at the Center. Tel: 86-21-63844022 or 53060606 ×2476 or 2470
Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- One of the best ways to visit the historic sites is on the wonderful "Tour of Jewish Shanghai" conducted by appointment with Dvir Bar-Gal, an English-speaking Israeli living in Shanghai. The tours usually start at the Peace hotel, goes to the Hongkou district (known as the Shanghai ghetto) visiting various places there including the Ohel Moshe Refugee Museum and monument and a former Jewish refugee home, and ending in the Children’s Palace. Dvir also offers a variety of other tours in Shanghai. Ask about his Jewish tombstone project! Tel: 86 21 62839235 or 13002146702 (mobile)
- Tess Johnston, a retired Foreign Service member who has lived in Shanghai for many years, offers marvelous guided walking tours of the Hongkou ghetto and also of old Shanghai, particularly the architecture in the former French Concession .
Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Sites in Harbin
Jewish Sites to Visit: the former Main Synagogue, now a hotel; the New Synagogue, now home to the Jewish historical and cultural museum; and the Jewish cemetery.
- Prof. Avrum Ehrlich, of Shangdong University, also offers tours of Jewish China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. http://www.avrumehrlich.net/jewishtours.htm
- Dr. Jerry Gotel, of the London Jewish Cultural Centre, also offers tours of Jewish China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rabbi Marvin Tokayer has offered tours of Jewish China and other Asian sites as well for many years. Email: email@example.com
- Cantor Joy Katzen Guthrie has offered tours of Jewish China in the past and is available to do so again. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org