The Shanghai municipality government will restore and protect the residential district that housed nearly 30,000 Jews during World War II in Waitan, or the Bund, by the Huangpu River that cuts through the city, in the next five to eight years.
According to historical records, from 1938 to 1941, nearly 20,000 Jews fled from Germany and Austria where the Jews were persecuted and slaughtered by Nazis and went to exile in Shanghai.
Friendly Shanghai citizens provided a peaceful refuge for those exiled Jews. The refugees not only made a living in Shanghai but also gave birth to over 400 Jewish babies. This is considered to be a marvel by historians.
For this reason, the former Jewish residential district was named as Shanghai's Vienna.
Although most of the Jewish immigrants and their descendants returned to their homeland when the war ended, many constructions of Jewish style including local dwelling houses, churches, parks and cafes still stand in this region, as the telling witness of this history.
As one of the only two existing Jewish churches, the Moses church where the Jewish migrants prayed, has become an exhibition of Jewish history and culture.
"The exhibition attracts foreign visitors, especially Jews, almost every day. Many state leaders including former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin have been here," said Wang Faliang, who has been the doorkeeper of the exhibition for 11 years.
"I cannot forget those years when I lived in Shanghai," said Sara Imas, a woman of Jewish and Chinese mixed blood who was born in Shanghai.
Sara's father came to Shanghai from the border between Germany and Poland in 1939 and married a Chinese woman. As the first Jewish migrants came back to Israel from China, Sara was received by former Israeli premier Rabin.
Mastering Rabbinic, English, standard Chinese, and dialects spoken in Shanghai, Guangdong, Suzhou and northern Jiangsu province, Sara is now working as the chief representative in Chinaof LUSTIG Brothers Ltd., an Israeli diamond company.
She named her elder son "Yihua", the combination of the first Chinese pronunciation of Israel and China.
(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2004)