Jews in Harbin part 1

Category: Education

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The Jewish Harbin

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The city of Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province in northern Manchuria, northeast China. Harbin is originally a Manchu word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets". Harbin bears the nicknames "The Pearl on the swan's neck" because the shape of Heilongjiang resembles a swan, and "Oriental Moscow" or "Oriental Paris" for the architecture in the city. Harbin is also known as "Ice City" for its long and cold winter. This city is most famous for its beautiful display of ice sculptures in the winter. Wikipedia

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Harbin once had the largest Jewish population in the Far East. In the late 19th and early 20th century, it was the largest political, economic and cultural centre for the Jewish people in the region. The first Jews arrived to Harbin from Russia and Eastern Europe in 1898, with the beginning of the construction of the trans-Siberian railway linking Moscow and Beijing. After the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, increasing numbers of Jews migrated to Harbin. At its peak the community, which usually numbered 10,000 inhabitants, reached 25,000 people.

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After World War II, the Jews of Harbin gradually scattered to Shanghai, Israel and other countries. In 1963 the Jewish institutions in the city were officially closed down. In 1985 the last Jew in Harbin died.

Original synagogue : 

Original synagogue The Main Synagogue in Harbin (also called the Old Church) Its foundation was laid on May 3, 1907 and completed in January 1909

Main synagogue of Harbin : 

Main synagogue of Harbin

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The new Jewish synagogue in Harbin: construction started in 1916 and finished in 1921, and is now Harbin Jewish History and Culture Exhibition Hall

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Once the largest synagogue in Northeast China, covering an area of more than 1,230 square metres and being able to accommodate up to 800 worshipers, it has not been used since the Jewish people left the city in the 1950s. Built in 1921, the synagogue was not only an important place of religious observance and community education for Harbin's Jews, but was also a public library

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The entrance to the Exhibition of Harbin Jewish History and Culture features a sculpture of a large Menorah, a candlestick with seven candles. On the walls there are two relief sculptures depicting the migration routes of the Jews. The synagogue itself is full of intricate Jewish architecture with the Star of David on prominent display.

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A film on the Holocaust, with Chinese subtitles, is screened on a large television screen at the foyer. The synagogue itself is full of intricate Jewish architecture with the Star of David on prominent display.

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The building's two floors are filled with large black and white pictures documenting Jewish life in the city: the soup kitchen, the Beitar youth movement, the women's welfare organization, shops and plants, the library, the orchestra, Jewish singers, Jewish athletes, “ The Jew of World Famous “ as they call them.

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The Harbin Huang Shan Jewish Cemetery, located in the city's suburbs, is the largest and the best-preserved cemetery in the Far East.

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The cemetery, with about 600 tombstones engraved in Russian and Yiddish, was built in 1903 in the city center and was transferred outside the city in 1958. In 1992, after the establishment of relations between Israel and China, it was renovated.

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Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, paid respects to his grandfather who is buried in the cemetery. He left a stone on the tomb of his grandfather Joseph Olmert, who died in Harbin in 1941.

Dec-08 : 

Dec-08 Source : - Harbin's Jews: Isle of calm for embattled nation By Shiri Lev Ari - The Jews of Harbin Dr. Irena Vladimirsky Wikipedia Photos : Charles B.

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