The Old Jewish Quarter in Hongkou District is a very fascinating place to visit. Located on Zhoushan Road and Huoshan Road, this area has been associated with the Jewish immigrants for years now.
Old Jewish Quarter in Shanghai is often called the Noah’s Ark of Orient since it had once been the refuge for the Jewish. 30,000 Jews had fled during the Second World War and had come to Shanghai. The locals helped the displaced people and they soon create a distinct community of their own with sports leagues, cemeteries, synagogues, stores, cafes, bakeries and theaters. Some of these older Jewish sites are kept in good condition even today.
Shanghai Jewish School and Ohel Rachel Synagogue
The Ohel Moishe or Rachel Synagogue was the spiritual core of the Jewish community. It currently is converted to Jewish Refugees Museum. It is considered to be the most important building in Old Jewish Quarter. This synagogue was the primary one for Sepharic community in the city. Standing to its left is the Shanghai Jewish School which was founded in the year 1900.
Toeg House and Pacific Gardens
There are several Jewish Iraqi residences in the area among which Pacific Gardens was very popular with the upper middle Iraqi families. The Toeg House once belonged to a rich Iraqi Jew family. Ten families were able to live in this house once the family left.
Jewish Shops, Uptown Theater and Old Market
When you walk down the Shaanxi North Road you will find an area where there were several smaller Jewish retail stores. Kosher butchers, multi-storied markets and stores of all kinds were housed in this area. A very popular landmark in the city today is the Uptown Theater and had attracted a lot of people for the films they showed each week in the past.
Hardoon Gardens, Exhibition Hall
Sir Silas Hardoon had been a very popular foreigner in Shanghai and was a very rich citizen. His huge estate was located centrally in the city and had housed 20 adopted orphans. The estate also had Chinese and Japanese gardens. Today the entire complex has been converted to the Shanghai Exhibition Center but the locals still call it Hardoon Gardens. The street located to its west had also been named after him.
Old Jewish Residences
Old Jewish Quarter is also home to many old Jewish residences such as those belonging to the Ezras, Moses, Hayim, Abraham and Kadoorie. Most of these are not accessible to tourists since they are privately owned today. The richest in the Jewish community then had been Horace Kadoorie. His residence had included a luxurious Marble Hall. The building stands even today near the Hilton Hotel. It is currently used as the Children’s Palace.
Music Conservatory, Jewish Club
The Jewish Russian Club had eventually served as a club for the entire community. Because Russians had been the greatest Zionists of the city, the news about the establishment of Israel along with the speech of David Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister, had been read to the entire community in 1948 at this club. Today the site is Shanghai Music Conservatory. The Jewish people had a huge impact on the music scene of the city and the conservatory is therefore a tribute to them. Jews from Russia and Central Europe had trained some of the leading musicians from Shanghai at the time.