An exhibition celebrating the history and culture of the Jews
opened on Sunday at an 85-year-old renovated synagogue in Harbin,
the biggest in the Far East, marking the long-standing friendship
between the Chinese and the Jews.
A black marble monument built with silver birches and in a
northeast Chinese style inside the synagogue has the names and
photos of Jews that once lived in the city etched into it.
One of the exhibits includes a record of the burial of 600 Jews
at the Huangshan Jewish Cemetery. On display are pictures, videos,
sand tables and sculptures, and a description of Jewish religious,
political, economic and cultural activities in Harbin more than
half a century ago, said Qu Wei, president of Heilongjiang
Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.
Due to anti-Semitic problems, a large number of Jews fled to
Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, from Russia, Eastern
Europe and other Western countries from the end of the 19th century
to the middle of the 20th century.
They formed quite complete living communities in the city, with
settler numbers exceeding 20,000 in the 1920s, the largest
community in the Far East region at the time.
"The Jewish people fled persecution and found a new home in
China, and were well treated by the Chinese," said Chen Haosu,
President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with
The Heilongjiang Provincial and Harbin Municipal governments
have invested more than 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) in
renovating many Jewish historical sites, including the synagogue,
Built in 1921, the synagogue can hold 800 worshipers. It was and
is an important place of the Jew's religious, cultural and
community life in Harbin, Qu said.
Former US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky commented the
local government's efforts to preserve Jewish historical sites,
saying that what the Chinese government has done, including this
exhibition, is a mark of great respect for Jews, their history and
(Xinhua News Agency, Heilongjiang Daily January