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Transformation triumph for famous Jewish site
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A key former Jewish site in Hongkou District has undergone six months of million-dollar renovations and was yesterday reopened to the public.


A visit is akin to stepping back 80 years in time, with the first thing to hit the eye the impressive colonial-style veranda.


The site, the former Ohel Moishe Synagogue at No. 62 Changyang Road, has been renamed the Shanghai Jewish Refugees' Museum.


It will also include a new exhibition house that will be open by year's end, site managers said.


"We tried to completely restore the architecture, even down to its original construction material," Chen Jian, the curator of the museum, said yesterday.


Funded by nearly US$1 million provided by the Hongkou District government, the restoration project started in April.


Renovation works were conducted on the three-story building according to the original blueprint drawn by a Russian-Jewish designer in 1928.


Its pillars, windows and door frames are made of pine imported from the United States.


A lectern and an eastern European-styled ark of the covenant are in front of the lobby where religious ceremonies are held.


Wooden stairs, originally leading to the female-prayer area on the second floor have been reconstructed.


Twenty-two pieces of old furniture and artifacts, which were left by former Jewish refugees, are on show on the second floor. These include an old-style radio, an electric fan, chairs, a sewing machine, a flower stand, a violin, a tobacco pipe, a camera and a shaver.


The third floor has an exhibition of historic pictures, including some donated by a Canadian artist.


Heritage call


Chen said the museum will continue to collect historic artifacts from the public for its new exhibition house.


During World War II, more than 30,000 Jewish refugees fled Europe to Shanghai where they were granted asylum around the Tilanqiao area, site of the museum.


The museum will be open from 9am to 5pm and the admittance fee is 50 yuan (US$6.67).


Last April, about 120 former Jewish refugees and their offspring were invited by the city government to meet in the area. They called on the United Nations to list Tilanqiao as a world heritage site.


The city government plans to build a Jewish-style residential complex in the Tilanqiao area, which will include restaurants, museums, stores and entertainment venues.


The area, near the Puxi bank of the Huangpu River, covers 28 hectares between Changyang Road to the north and Huoshan Road to the south.


Some of the 15,000 people in the area will be relocated to make way for the project, according to a preliminary plan.


(Shanghai Daily October 27, 2007)


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