The head of Betar in China was Aaron Henkin of Harbin. He came to the US in 1945 or 1946. Betar was the Zionist youth group that backed the Irgun Zvai Leumi. During WW II, because of the railroad and because the Japanese were relatively tolerant, the Jewish community added a lot of refugees from Austria and Germany.
China's Historic Jews
More than 4,500 miles from the Holy Land, a Jewish community of 10,000 people lived in central China during the Sung Dynasty. Although the synagogue and village were ravaged by bandits and floods, Leo Gabow managed to gather photographs, memorabilia and artifacts connected to the synagogue, which was first constructed in 1163
China Virtual Tour - Virtual Jewish History Tour
Today, China's Jewish community numbers around 200, nearly all in Shanghai.
Council on the Jewish Experience in Shanghai (CJES)
3500 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4925
The Main Synagogue in Harbin (also called the Old Church) is seen in Artilleriskaya Street, Pristan District (now Tongjiang Street, Daoli District). Its foundation was laid on May 3, 1907 and completed in January 1909
Once known as "the little Paris of the East", many refugees from Russia lived in Harbin before immigrating to other countries. The archives of the Jewish community in Harbin are intact, but the Chinese authorities stopped access. The Mormons are working on it. Eventually, it is expected, we will be able to get marriage, birth and death records from them.
The first Jews reportedly arrived in Harbin around 1899. Thereafter there were three waves of immigrations according to Li Shuxiao, vice director of Jewish research at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences. The first group, in the early 20th century, came in search of opportunity after the opening of the Russia-China railroad. The second during the 1917 Russian Revolution. A third group of Jews sought to escape a Russia-China border conflict in 1929. The local Jewish population reached some 20,000 around 1920.
The history of the establishment of Harbin and the many Jewish and White Russian families who lived there from Tsarist times and later on fleeing from the Russian Revolution is fascinating.
The Los Angeles Times published an Associated Press article about the Harbin Jewish Cemetery reopening which was published on April 22, 2000. It can be found in the LA Times Archives
Scroll down and on the left you can type in 'Harbin Jews' in the search box. A portion of the article can be viewed for free.
The gist of the article was that Chinese authorities have reopened Huangshan Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery built by Jews who moved there after the completion of the Trans-Siberian railway in 1896. The article said that the cemetery, built in 1903, has more than 2,000 tombs and is said to be the largest Jewish cemetery in Asia. It explained that 20,000 Jews moved to, or visited the city, after the railway opened, and the government moved an additional 605 tombs to the cemetery in 1953.
Jewish Cemetery in Harbin
PowerPoint Presentation of the Jews of Kaifeng and Harbin
Information dealing with Harbin during WW II can be found at
Harbiner Russia\China search
Try the Rootsweb-organized Newsletter. To subscribe send an Email: message with only the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject and the body of the message to: rusharbi-Dfirstname.lastname@example.org
Teddy Kaufman is the leader of the Tel-Aviv based Association of Former Residents of China.
"Secrets and Spies - The Harbin Files"
Authored by Mara Moustafine and published by Random House in Australia. The book documents Mara Moustafine's family's history and fate from Tsarist Russia to Harbin and under the 1937/38 Stalin Terror in Hailar and Harbin in Russian Manchuria, and back to the former USSR, Shanghai and eventually Australia
ISBN 1 74051 091 7
China's northeastern city is restoring two synagogues
Memorial Remembering the victims
Hong Kong Jewish Community
Hong Kong skyline
Dan Fellner published an article in the October/November 2011 issue of Hadassah Magazine. He states that "the hub of Jewish life lies halfway down the peak in a part of Hong Kong known as the Mid-Levels, a popular residential area for the island's general expatriate community. "There are two congregations, a Jewish Community Center, a kosher supermarket and a Jewish day school. "So many Jews live in the surrounding high-rise apartment buildings that one local rabbi has dubbed the area a "vertical shtetl."
There are about 360 Jews buried here and it has been in continuous use since it was established more than 150 years ago. All the tombstones have been catalogued by the
Jewish Historical Society of Hong Kong
13 Shan Kwong Road
Hong Kong census figures show only 40 Jews lived on the island in 1872, and that by the end of the 19th century, the Jewish population had more than quadrupled, mainly because of the influx of refugees from Eastern Europe. In 2011, it is estimated that there are about 5,000 Jews, though estimates vary due to the transient nature of the community.
The Jewish Community Centre
70 Robinson Road
Phone 852 2801 5440
is a multi-faceted facility conveniently located in the Mid-Levels area above the Central district on Hong Kong Island
Asian Jewish Life
Jewish Times Asia
62 Mody Road
Phone: 852 2368 0061
Ohel Leah Synagogue
70 Robinson Road
61 Connaught Road Central
852 2851 6300
The United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong
Phone: 852 2523 2985
Igud Yotzei Sin (Association of Former Residents of China)
Editor of their Bulletin is Boris Mirkin, 13 Gruznberg St., Tel Aviv, Israel
A very well done and informative site dealing with 'The History of the Ancient Near East'
Jewish Diaspora in China
From a Chinese perspective by Professor Xu Xin
Jews in China
"There were many Jewish communities in China during the past 1000 years. In the ancient city of Kaifeng, however, we have found written and archeological evidence of Jewish life. Kaifeng now has a Jewish museum. Though they are no longer Jewish, the descendants of this ancient community continue to identify themselves on the Chinese census as "Yotai, Jews." There is an estimated 300 'Yotai" living in Kaifeng at this time (2005).
The Jewish Community disappeared after its last rabbi died in the mid-1800s. Although the Jews are intermarried and retain few, if any Jewish practices, they identify with the Jewish people.
Jews and Chinese have encountered each other for a thousand years or more, beginning with the Jewish traders who went to China along the Silk Road in the 9th century. In the 20th century, China received Jewish refugees fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution, the Russian Civil War, and later the Nazi persecution.
was an important chapter in Chinese Jewish history in the 20th century since they saved somewhere between 18,000 and 25,000 European Jews escaping Hitler. Other important communities were in Harbin, Tsin Tzin, Hong Kong."
Several months ago, Professor Xu Xin of Najing University received an award from Bar Ilan University in Israel. He teaches graduate courses on the Jews of China and is partially responsible for the renewed relationship between Israel and China. Due to my friend Xu Xin, there are about 600 Chinese PhD candidates now studying in Israel. They take this knowledge back to the people of China. In February (2003) the JGS of Michigan along with Historical Society of MI brought Xu Xin to Detroit. He spoke to an audience of over 500 and it was video taped and presented on local television.
The Sino-Judaic Institute has been for many years sending copies, in Chinese of "The Encyclopedia Judaica to Chinese Universities".
The main important books on this subject are: "Chinese Jews"
Aauthored by William White
The Jews of China
This site offers some good information about this part of the Jewish past
Located in the province of Hunan (Henan), just south of the Yellow River. It was once the capital of Hunan province. At it's peak (under the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644) it numbered some 5,000 Jews, has dwindled to no more than a few hundred. In the last Chinese census in which Jews were allowed identify themselves as Jews (1988) there were some 700 to 1,000 Yotai in Kaifeng. There is a small Jewish museum in Kaifeng that commemorates the hundreds of years of Jewish history in this ancient land. According to historical records, a Jewish community (with a synagogue built in 1163) lived in Kaifeng from at least the Southern Song Dynasty until the late nineteenth century. (Wikipedia)
"Jews of Kaifeng"
An interesting article appeared in the October, 1907 issue of National geographic, vol. 18, no. 10, page 621-632 and includes numerous photos.
"Minyan in Kaifeng"
Produced by Gorps Productions. The National Center for Jewish Film
Interesting presentation of Kaifeng
"The Jews of Kaifeng, China"
By Professor Xu Xin
"The Jews of Kaifeng"
Authored by Beth Hatefutsoth, The Nahum Goldman Museum in Israel - 'The sect that plucks out the sinews'
"Mandarines, Jews, and Missionaries"
Authored by Michael Pollak.
From a posting by Betty Provizer Starkman email@example.com
Arguably, Professor Xu Xin not only knows more about Jews than anyone in his native China, but he knows more about Jews than many Jews. The 48-year-old director of the Center for Judaic Studies at Nanjing University has been ensconced at Harvard University's Center for Jewish Studies since January, wrapping up work on his book about Kaifeng Jewry. He has already written a book on anti-Semitism, and penned numerous articles on the subject of Jews
Kosher and Jewish China
Xu Xin is a professor of Jewish studies
Jewish home on Gaoyang Road, home to many of the 18,000 European Jewish refugees seeking refuge in Shanghai's Hongkou district
The British established Shanghai as a treaty port in the 1840s. This act allowed many thousands of refugees to find a new home and be saved from the Nazi persecutions
German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1939
Shanghai Ghetto Documentary
Twenty thousand Jews found refuge from the Nazis in Japanese dominated Shanghai. Five internees and two historians describe the ingenuity of Jews who, in a land of appalling poverty, created a fully functioning community. Old footage as well as new bring this little-known episode to life. I saw this movie, and although it is a bit too long and repetitious, it is well worth your time. Produced by Dana Jankowicz-Mann and Amir Mann. Rebel Child Productions
Jews, the Holocaust and Shanghai
Shanghai Jewish Burials
Some names are listed on the IAJGS Cemetery database.
Contact Ralph Harpuder firstname.lastname@example.org
Shanghai Jews as seen by Chinese
Shanghai Municipal Police
Jews were a part of this municipality force. Surnames are in this database which includes other information in many cases.
visit and to other Asian Jewish sites
Safe Haven: 2 Immigration and settlement
Admission of German Jews to Shanghai
Encyclopedia includes a map of Shanghai in 1933
Synagogues of China
A listing of synagogues can be found at this site. Look for the list at the lower left of index page
Telephone Directories on the Web
The Center for Research and Study of the Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage
Located at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mount Scopus, Jerusalem 91905
Phone +972 2 883962
Translating Services - Languages
Just in case you didn't think of it, contact a nearby university or college's foreign language department. They may offer to write letters and translate letters into English. A nominal fee is usually charged.
Of a total population of 944,580,000, India's Jewish population is less than 5,000 and mostly centered in and around Bombay. There are no Rabbis officiating at any of the remaining synagogues. The Kerala Synagogue is the oldest house of worship in the British Commonwealth.
Jews have been a presence in India back to antiquity. The Jewish population increased during WW II as many Jews sought refuge here from the Nazis. Not long after, more than half of the Jewish community immigrated to Israel. There were only 29 synagogues left in the 1960s and now there are 18 left.
The Indian Jewish Community is mainly divided into three sects: Bene Israels from Konkan and Mumbai (Bombay); Baghdadi from Mumbai (Bombay) and Kolkata and Cochinis from Kerala.
In 1960, there were 20,000 Jews in India, mostly in the larger cities
"Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames: Women's Narratives from a Diaspora of Hope"
Authored by Jael Silliman and published in 2001 by Seagull Books Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta
"Mammalia of India"
Authored by Frank Finn. A New and Abridged Edition, - thoroughly revised and with an Appendix on Reptilia.
"Temples at Srisailam: A Study of Art, Architecture, Iconography and Inscriptions"
Authored by Anuradha, V.
and Towns in India
Map of Jewish Communities in India
Once had a Jewish presence
A small village outside of Mumbai. Many of the Jews from the towns and villages around Mumbai have worked in the oil industry
The Chabad Houses hold services here.
These practicing Jews came to the India-Myanmar border by way of China. They claim that their ancestors were from the Ten Lost Tribes and wandered from Israel to this remote area. In recent years, more than 5,000 have embraced Orthodox Jewish practice and attend mud and bamboo synagogues. It is estimated that some 8,000 of these Jews, from India's border states of Manipur and Mizoram, and who claim descent from the son of biblical Joseph, now live in Israel. Few Western Jews have ever visited the community which is located in Imphal, the capital of the northeast Indian state of Manipur. Hadassah Magazine offers information and photos of these Jews in their August/September 2002 issue.
It has a Jewish presence.
Geneticist helps Mumbai Jews reinforce sense of identity
"The Bombay Jews"
A documentary with a duration of 29 minutes follows points: India and Judaism; Hebrew and Marathi Language; Important Synagogues; Bene Israels; Customs; Intern Faith Meetings and Challenges ahead for the Community. This documentary also contains traditional music in the background
From Baghdad to Calcutta
Interior view of Cochin Synagogue
http://www.A History of the Parur Synagogue
Trial by fire, inquisition and neglect. Authored by Jay Waronker & Shalva Weil Many people have heard of the Jews of Cochin (today Kochi) in southwestern India, but far fewer know that there were in fact other small Jewish communities over the centuries in this same region of the country, each revolving around a synagogue. Eight such buildings, all located in the central part of the State of Kerala, survive in some form today. The most famous of these synagogues is the Paradesi synagogue in Jew Town, Cochin, with its beautiful blue tiles imported from China. In 1968, Indira Gandhi attended its quarter-centenary celebrations and the Indian government issued a special commemorative stamp on the occasion. Today, there are only nine Paradesi Jews left in Jew Town, and a Chabad Rabbi conducts the services, pulling in Israeli backpackers and American and other Jewish tourists to make up the Minyan.read more online]
Built in 1568 in south India and one of the oldest existing synagogues in the world. It sits at the end of Cochin's Jew town road.
The hand painted tiles were created in Canton, China. The Oil burning chandeliers were crafted in Belgium. There are less than ten families using this synagogue, whereas in the past the congregation once numbered in the thousands. The little community never numbered more than 2,500. It flourished for centuries on the southwestern coast of India until 1948 with the birth of Israel when most of the Jews left for their homeland.
Once had a Jewish presence. There is a Books & Periodicals Agency operated by Ekta Gupta and it is located at
Puri, New Delhi - 110012 India.
A great web site. It is a directory of 2,880,532 of the world's cities and towns, sorted by country and linked to a map for each town. A tab separated list is available for each country.
Jews from Goa were of Portuguese ancestry and eventually migrated to Amsterdam and London. Most were in the same business of diamonds in Goa, and had Portuguese surnames. When many from the Portuguese community left, the Jewish community of Goa went to Amsterdam and/or London. There are some people in India of mixed Portuguese ancestry also, but the community of Jews were connected more with Amsterdam, though they originally came from Portugal. Chabad House holds services here.
1952 Movie clip
India's Jewish population
Today totals about 5,000 in a population of over 944,580,000 who are mostly Hindus or Muslims. There has been very little assimilation. Most of the remaining Jews live in and around the city of Bombay (Mumbai).
There was an article published in late 2002 'Geneticist helps Mumbai Jews reinforce sense of identity' and it may still be in the Times of India archives
This referenced layman's article discusses Y-Chromosome evidence linking the Bene Israel community in India to Aaron the Priest. The Bene Israel claim descent from the "10 lost tribes," which were supposedly expelled from the Northern Kingdom (Israel) ca. 720 B.C.E. by the Assyrians, more than 130 years before the destruction of the Solomon's Temple in the Southern Kingdom (Judah).
Modern Biblical scholars see evidence in the Bible of a rivalry between the priests in the North (Shiloh) and the South (Jerusalem), and link the priesthood in the north with the descendants of Moses not Aaron. At any rate, according to tradition, Moses and Aaron were brothers, and thus would have shred the same Y-Chromosome. This information was submitted by Jake Goldstein
Once had a Jewish presence
Chabad holds services here
These are people who believe that they are descended from the Lost Tribes. About 350 of them have moved to Israel.
Refuge and Rescue
Two complementary exhibits on the related themes of refuge and rescue are featured at the Holocaust Education Centre, in Vancouver, BC.
Telephone Directories on the Web
There are about 25 Jews living in Indonesia
The chief Rabbi of Tokyo was Rabbi Marvin Takayer who retired to Great Neck, New York
Independent State of Manchukuo
A puppet state created in 1932 by Japan out of the three historic provinces of Manchuria (northeastern China). After the Russo-Japanese War (1895), Japan gained control of the Russian-built South Manchurian Railway, and its army established a presence in the region; expansion there was seen as necessary for Japan’s status as an emerging world power. In 1931 the Japanese army created an excuse to attack Chinese troops there, and in 1932 Manchukuo was proclaimed an “independent” state. The last Qing emperor was brought out of retirement and made Manchukuo’s ruler, but the state was actually rigidly controlled by the Japanese, who used it as their base for expansion into Asia. An underground guerrilla movement composed of Manchurian soldiers, armed civilians, and Chinese communists opposed the occupying Japanese, many of whom had come over to settle in the new colony. After Japan’s defeat in 1945 the settlers were repatriated
It was thought by the Japanese, that the Jews of Europe who were being persecuted by the Nazis would be ideal occupants of this state, mainly because of a perceived idea that the Jews were very business minded. In July, 1934, the Japanese Foreign created a plan to invite 50,000 Jews to Manchukuo.
The Counsel in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, who was posted to Vilna, Lithuania and who (for strictly humanitarian reasons) issued thousands of documents to Jews who were desperately trying to leave Europe before WW II broke out.
The "Fugu Plan"
A book written by an American rabbi who served in Japan long after WWII, but he did some research about the Jews were given transit visas by a Japanese embassy official in Poland just before the German invasion. He accumulated experiences of many survivors from the ghetto in Shanghai, and wrote all of these stories as if they were experienced by five persons. If you are interested in the Japanese attitude towards Jews at that time, it is well worth reading. Available from amazon.com I highly recommend this book. Ted Margulis
Picture of a mezuzah hanging at the front door of a Japanese restaurant
A Jewish man affixing a mezuzah to his door in South Korea
South Korea is surrounded by China to the west, Japan to the east and borders North Korea to the north. The country has a population of almost 50 million, but very few Jews live in the country, although a few Jewish businessmen come and go from time to time.
There are an estimate 100 Jews living in South Korea
It is a developed country with a full democracy and is a leader in technology including electronics, automobiles, ships, petrochemicals and robotics.
Koreans call their country Daehan-minguk (Republic of Korea) and Hanguk for short (Korea). Until the 19th century, Korea was known as the Hermit Kingdom because it was so isolated from the rest of the world in terms of trade. It gained its independence from Japan in 1945.
Penang Jewish Cemetery is billed as the oldest single Jewish cemetery in Malaysia. Spread across more than 38,000 sq ft, this cleaver-shaped plot of land was established in 1805. Set on Jalan Zainal Abidin (formerly known as Yahudi Road) it used to be a green ‘lung’ but much of it has now been cemented over.
The Penang Jewish Cemetery houses over 107 graves, most of which resemble traditional ossuaries (triangular vaulted-lid caskets) such as those found in Israel. The oldest Jewish tombstone, dating back to 1835, belongs to that of Mrs. Shoshan Levi, the benefactor who donated the land on which the cemetery was set up
Jews populated in the last years of the 19th century when Tsar Nicholas II, anxious to "Russify" the region he had taken from the Chinese, announced that any Jews willing to settle here would be allowed freedom of religion, unrestricted rights and quota-free schools. Over thirteen thousand Russian Jews moved - mainly to the city of Harbin, but also to Hailar, Tsitsihar, Manchouli, Mukden and Dairen.
A postcard of Harbin’s Old Synagogue (photo credit: courtesy Dan Ben-Canaan
The Harbin Municipal Government has announced its decision to reconstruct and renovate the Harbin Main Synagogue. This is despite the fact that today there is but one Jew who calls Harbin home, Dan Ben-Canaan, a professor of research and writing methodology at Heilongjiang University, School of Western Studies who relocated there in 2002, long after Jewish communal life ceased to exist and the last Jewish resident had gone
Read more: Home to one Jew, Harbin Synagogue to be renovated | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/home-to-one-jew-harbin-synagogue-to-be-renovated/
Temple Emil Manila, 1940
"Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror"
Authored by Frank Ephraim and published by the University of Illinois Press
The Jewish community of the Philippines, though quite small as compared to Shanghai, was not confined to a ghetto. Two hundred Jewish refugees reached Manila (population of one million) by the end of 1938. By mid-1940, there were 1700 Jews in all of the Philippines, 1200 of them refugees. The Japanese occupation extended from January 1942 to March 1945 and interred the Jewish congregants.
Freider Brothers Rescued Jews and helped them in the Philippines
Founded in 1919 and the adjacent Bachrach Center was built in 1942. The Rabbi was Joseph Schwarz and the cantor was Joseph Cysner. During the Battle of Manila, the temple was destroyed. It was the only synagogue on United States territory that was destroyed in WW II.
Chessed El Synagogue, Singapore, 1980
There are an estimated 300 Jews living in Singapore according to The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute Annual Assessment 2004-2005
Jewish Taipei ewish Taipei
There are an estimate 150 Jews living in Taiwan.
Temple Beth Elisheva
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometers (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over eight million, or 12.6 percent of the country's population. Over fourteen million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing Thailand's other urban centres in terms of importance.
Three sizeable synagogues are in operation across the city, catering to the daily spiritual needs of local and visiting Jews alike. Prayer services take place regularly at the various locations; Beth Elisheva in the Sukhumvit Road area, Even Chen in the Silom Road area, and the Chabad House in the Kaosarn Road area. The kosher restaurant located on the backpacker center of Khao San Road offers a broad range of delectable fares; and kosher foodstuffs produced locally and imported from Israel and the United States are also available
Jews settled here in the Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya which is now 95 percent Buddhist. Spanish missionaries noted seeing Jewish merchants in 1600 and a synagogue. One of the earlier families to settle here in the late 19th century, were the Rosenbergs who established some of the first modern hotels in Bangkok
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