Shanghai’s Jews and Old Architecture

Shanghai's Ohel Moishe Synagogue

The Ohel Moishe Synagogue in the Hongkou neighborhood of Shanghai home of the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum

During the Nazi invasion of Europe and the ensuing Holocaust, thousands of Jewish people and others were forced to flee their homes or be killed or imprisoned and tortured. At the time, no nation was willing to welcome Jewish people as refugees other than China, which was in the middle of their own occupation by Japan.

Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum brickwork

Ornate brickwork of the Ohel Moishe Synagogue in Shanghai

Because of this, tens of thousands of Jewish people ended up in Shanghai. One of the biggest Jewish communities was in Hongkou just north of the Bund. This history is not only important to Shanghai but many others whose families were rescued from certain death if they had stayed in Europe. To memorialize this effort and honor the Jewish heritage of Shanghai, a museum has been built there, in and around the Ohel Moishe Synagogue.

The Synagogue itself has been restored with amazing brick work on the exterior. The third floor has an exhibition about the holocaust curated with the help of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. In the rear courtyard of the synagogue are two small buildings. One has the history of Shanghai welcoming the Jewish people with a short video introduction. The other has stories and images of Jewish life in Shanghai told by those who experienced it.

This is definitely worth a short visit. We are all victims of the Holocaust because of its lasting effects on the world. It is also refreshing to see Shanghai paying tribute to a group of outsiders who helped make the city what it became since they sort of cover that up at the Bund and in the French Concession.

Brick Architecture in Shanghai

The synagogue and surrounding buildings are made of some beautiful brick work. These weren’t the only amazing brick structures in the neighborhood either. All around the old part of Shanghai we found great old architecture with some beautiful, intricate brick work.

cool architecture in Shanghai, Hongkou neighborhoodShanghai brickworkChinese Art Deco brickwork in Shanghaian awesome brick portico in Shanghai, Hongkou district

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