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Jewish Journal

Key dates in recent Chinese Jewish history

by Alison Klayman

August 4, 2008 | 6:34 pm

BEIJING (JTA) -- The following are key dates in Chinese Jewish history:
  • 1920 Ohel Rachel Synagogue is established in Shanghai (still standing).
  • 1928-49 The first Lubavitch rabbi in China, Meir Ashkenazi, leads Shanghai’s Congregation Ohel Moshe. Built in 1927, Ohel Moshe is now the site of the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum.
  • 1938-45 20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria escape to Shanghai.
  • 1939-40 Approximately 1,000 Polish Jews escape to Shanghai, including about 400 teachers and students of the Mir Yeshiva.
  • 1941-45 Japanese occupying powers intern recent Jewish immigrants from Allied countries in Hongkou ghetto for “stateless refugees.”
  • 1949 Communists win civil war; by now most of 24,000 Shanghai Jews and other Jewish populations across the country leave China.
  • 1978 Deng Xiaoping announces China’s “open door policy” with the West.
  • 1980 First community seder in Beijing is led by founders of the liberal Kehillat Beijing minyan.
  • 1992 Israel and China establish diplomatic relations.
  • 1995 Kehillat Beijing begins regular Friday night services in permanent home, Beijing’s Capital Club.
  • Oct 25, 1996 The first community bar mitzvah is held in Beijing for Ari Lee, the son of community founders Elyse Silverberg and Michael Lee.
  • 1998 The "Jewish Shanghai” guided tour begins; it is currently being run by Israeli journalist Dvir Bar-Gal (www.shanghai-jews.com)
  • September 1999 In Shanghai, a Jewish New Year service is held at the Ohel Rachel Synagogue for the first time since 1952, when the synagogue was closed.
  • 2001 Chabad opens its first center in Beijing.
  • 2006 Beijing mikvah Mei Tovah opens.
  • 2007 Beijing opens its first kosher restaurant, Dini’s
  • May 2008 Israel donates 90 tons of medical supplies, more than $1 million, for Sichuan earthquake relief.
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