27 November 2008

Shanghai: Jewish history, name database

The "Hunt for Jewish History" in Shanghai was detailed in this Shanghai Daily story.

The managers of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum said they are working to collect more artifacts and artwork from Shanghai and overseas to enrich the facility's exhibits and better document this important part of the city's history.

The government-operated museum, at 62 Changyang Road, was established in the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue, a religious and cultural center used by Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II.

Nearly 15,000 people from 50 foreign countries and regions have visited the museum since it opened in October last year, museum managers said.

The synagogue is located near the former Jewish neighborhoods around the Tilanqiao area in Hongkou District.

District government spent US$1 million last year on a major renovation to restore the synagogue to its original look and opened the museum at the same time. The managers of the museum have been working to enrich the exhibits and artwork ever since.

Two galleries, in separate buildings outside the synagogue, have been completed and opened to the public over the past six months.

One gallery holds more than 100 photos and items, and a short movie detailing the city's Jewish past is screened. Artwork is in the other gallery.

Museum curator Chen Jian, a district government official, said there is an urgent need for more exhibits: "It's not only meant to make the museum more attractive to visitors but for the sake of preserving this special history."

"Witnesses to this history, including the Jews who used to live in Shanghai and the old Shanghai residents, are passing on. So we need to gather precious historical evidence such as photos and papers as quickly as possible to add to our exhibits," he said.

The museum is planning to develop more interactive content for the building's third floor.

Of special interest to Jewish genealogists who had family in Shanghai is the interactive database launched in June. It holds some 14,800 refugee names of those who fled Europe and were granted asylum in the Tilanqiao area. The museum is trying to complete the name list of nearly 30,000 refugees who arrived.

Names were collected from memoirs, historical documents and those contributed by overseas visitors to the museum. A dedicated museum computer with the database is available for visitors at no charge.

1 comment:

  1. My mom had a first cousin who escaped to Shanghai. I would like to know more about her. When, if ever, will the database appear online?