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The Jews in Modern China

An exhibit celebrating the unique friendship between the Chinese and Jewish people at the Museum of Tolerance.

July 15, 2008 12:00am to September 2, 2008 12:00am

As two of the most ancient civilizations, the Chinese and the Jewish peoples have had a bond that has lasted centuries.  In China, Jews found a safe haven to escape persecution in Europe and the Middle East and have established large communities in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Harbin and Tianjin as well as smaller communities.  Jews lived in harmony with the Chinese because of shared values such as strong family ties and an emphasis on learning.

Jews found themselves influenced by the unique Chinese cultural identity and in turn, they introduced aspects of their own cultural traditions to the Chinese people.  Most importantly, the major faiths of China-- Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism do not disparage other faiths like Judaism, whereas in Christian Europe, anti-Semitism was a deeply engrained prejudice. During the Nazi era, most nations closed their doors to Jews fleeing Europe, but thousands of Jews found safety in Shanghai. Diplomats in Europe such as Feng Shan Ho, the Chinese consul in Vienna, and Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese consul in Lithuania, often went against their government’s wishes by securing visas for thousands of Jews to go to China and elsewhere. Following WWII, many in the Jewish community left China for Israel, the United States and Canada.

For more information, contact Public Relations Department at 310-553-9036.