The story appears on

Page A4

October 11, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Jews seek to save city heritage

SHANGHAI'S Jewish community is seeking measures to restore some historic buildings that offered refuge to Jewish people during the World War II but are now in poor condition with hundreds of residents living inside.

The historic buildings near the Ohel Moshe Synagogue in Hongkou District have great historic value that symbolizes the friendship between Chinese and Jewish people, said Maurice Ohana, president of the Shanghai Jewish Community.

The area around the synagogue, which is now the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, was the biggest neighborhood for the 30,000 Jewish refugees in Shanghai in the 1930s.

More than 20 two-story buildings constituted the busiest neighborhood in the area known as "Little Vienna," which housed Jewish handiwork stores and clinics until the Jewish residents moved back to Europe after World War II ended in 1945.

Ohana said that more than 2,000 Jewish people now live in the city, and the neighborhood is a must-go place for Jewish tourists to Shanghai.

"I remember the buildings had many exotic patterns and decorations, while the inner structures were well-designed," said a 60-year-old resident surnamed Wang who has lived there since she was born.

But the buildings now have many illegal structures on the roofs built by the residents. Inside, they have been divided into many small apartments, while most of the former decorations have been damaged in renovations, Wang said.

Students from an Israeli university have been working with Shanghai's Tongji University on restoration plans for the area. They exhibited some of their plans to local residents yesterday at the Ohel Moshe Synagogue.

As one idea, they suggested reopening the Jewish handiwork stores to revive the former "Little Vienna."

The district government has decided to renovate the buildings listed as protected, but is still working on details, said Bai Aijun, director of the district's Bureau of Planning and Land Resources.

"The plans from Chinese and Jewish students provide many valuable ideas that can be used," Bai said.

The buildings constructed in Roman-style between 1880 and 1920 have historic value in themselves, said Wang Anshi, an architectural expert and member of the city's historic building protection committee. They have arched windows and spires that are rare among local buildings. And the former residents left many Jewish decorations that are also valuable, Wang said.

He said a feasible way to protect the buildings is to move some residents out to reduce the damage, then launch an overall renovation to give a better living environment for the residents who remain.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend