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Itinerary Name: 6 Hours Jewish Tour in Shanghai
Day 1
One Day Tour in Downtown Shanghai
Your guide will pick up every tourist at their address and become a group to set out to explore the historical highlights of the Jewish history in Shanghai.


Our tour will began with the visit to Ruijin Hotel (originally Morriss Garden),


It is a very large compound with 4 giant British, French and Spanish villas and spacious British style garden lawn. You can find the Mansard roof, French windows, and eclectic interior, which uses a fleur de lis motif in many of the architectural details. The combination of architectural beauty and historical interest makes the Ruijin Hotel a unique treasure of contemporary Shanghai. Now The hotel grounds also houses a number of high end restaurants.


The No.1 Villa in it was completed in 1917 with a construction area of 1135 s.m. and was owned by Benjamin Morriss.


John Morriss, the father of Benjamin Morriss, took ship to Shanghai from Ireland in1867 at his 17 years old. He is one of the earliest western adventurers in Shanghai, as famous as Hardoon and Sassoon. He made a fortune by betting on racehorse. He was a real estate developer and the owner of French Yiyuan Dogtrack (Le Champ de Courses Francais). He was also the owner of the first and most influential English newspaper in China - the North China Daily News. The real estates developed by him can be found many places in the central Shanghai at tht time. His son, Benjamin Morriss, was educated in Britain, was an excellent architect and engineer. He developed his familys business in Shanghai very much. Some history record says if no Benjamin Morriss, the  Shikumen (Stone gate house) would not be developed to such a high level in the colonial period in Shanghai. Shikumen is the typical Shanghai style residence house building combined with the features of western townhouse and Chinese courtyard. In 1905, he designed the first New Style Shikumen Lane in Shanghai - Lane 188 Chongqing Road.


The 2nd charming antique building you will visit is Moller Villa Hotel (out view),


Of Shanghais numerous colonial-era mansions, the Moller Villa on the edge of the French Concession is unique for its fantasy of brown-tiled Gothic and Tudor steeples, gables, and spires. It was built by a Jewish shipping magnate from Sweden, Eric Moller, in 1936.


The Moller family business was shipping and shipbuilding, and in Shanghai included shipping lines, insurance, real estate and investment. In 1913, Eric Moller took over his family business and prospered. They had a steamboat which ran between Shanghai and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province. In the mid-1920s, Moller decided to construct a house for his family of six children and a menagerie of dogs and cats.


Afterwards, drive to north to Shanxi North Road (old name: Seymour Road) to admire the out view of The Ohel Rachel Synagogue (the largest synagogue in the Far East) – this majestic building is not open to the public because now it is part of the Shanghai Education Commission compound, (and used only occasionally by the Jewish community). So now tourists can only view it from outside.  


The Ohel Rachel Synagogue (Hebrew for "Tent of Rachel") is a Sephardi synagogue in Shanghai. It marked the culminating achievement of Shanghais First Wave of Jewish immigrants. It was built by the Sassoon’s family to accommodate the community of Baghdadi Jews (which at its peak numbered 700), completed in March 1920, and was consecrated by Rabbi W. Hirsch for worship on January 23, 1921. Ohel Rachel was the first of seven synagogues built in Shanghai, the largest synagogue in the Far East, and only one of two still standing Today (The other, the Ohel Moishe Synagogue located in Hong Kou district, hosts a museum dedicated to the history of the Jewish experience in Shanghai. You will visit it this afternoon.) At that time, it was the religious center of Shanghai Sephardic Jewish life.


This building is in the Greek Revival style. It seems unusual - most synagogues took their cues from Middle Eastern tradition - but Sassoon wanted to commemorate the history of the Sephardic Jews, and the architectural inspiration came from Londons Bevis Marks Synagogue (1701), the temple built by Spanish Jews, and the 1890s Spanish and Portuguese synagogue with an imposing domed roof, also in London.


This imposing building held up to 700 people in its cavernous sanctuary. Marble pillars flanked a walk-in ark (which once held 30 Torah scrolls) and wide balconies overlooked the sanctuary. The site hosted the Shanghai Jewish School (the 1932 building still stands on the left of the courtyard), a playground, library and mikveh.


Repurposed first under the Japanese occupation during World War II and again following the Communist conquest of Shanghai in 1949, the synagogue has been a protected architectural landmark of the city since 1994. It was reopened for some Jewish holidays from 1999 and briefly held more regular Shabbat services as part of the 2010 Shanghai Expo.


Sir Jacob Elias Sassoon - a Sephardic Baghdadi Jew - endowed the Synagogue in loving memory of his wife Lady Rachel. When Sir Jacob died a few months prior to the Synagogues completion, the Jewish community decided to dedicate it to both Sir Jacob and his wife. Sir Jacob had also endowed Hong Kongs Ohel Leah Synagogue, dedicated to his mother, consecrated in 1900.


Today and for the future, the Ohel Rachel Synagogue remains the most significant symbol of the crucial Jewish role in Shanghais history.


This architecture is the only one building in the World Memorial Architecture List in Shanghai. There are totally 19 architectures in this list in China. During President Clintons state visit to China in 1998, his wife Hillary and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited the synagogue. It is because Hillary’s father once studied in this Synagogue 


The next stop for us to visit is the Fairmont Peace Hotel (the former Cathay Hotel) at the east end of the famous Nanjing Road and by the side of Shanghais famous Bund riverfront.


This Art Deco masterpiece was built by Jewish financier Sir Victor Sassoon, the grandson of Baghdads Jewish community leader. Sassoons family dominated business, finance, and real estate in early 20th century Shanghai.


When the Peace Hotel was built in 1929, Sasson wanted to create "the most beautiful hotel east of Suez, and the most modern". When built the Peace Hotel was known as the Cathay Hotel.


Prior to 1949, the Cathay hotel was considered the height of opulence, illustrating the economic prestige that had come to define Shanghai as the "Paris of the East". The hotel gained world-wide fame, attracting internationally renowned guests including actors, political figures, and playwrights.


After that, you will get to what was once the Jewish Quarter of Shanghai, or called the Shanghai Ghetto in Hongkou district during the 2nd World War (Official name: Designated Area for Stateless Refugees of Shanghai). This Area is with 40 blocks along with 100,000 Chinese residents in the northeast of Shanghai Concession area.   

 The Map of Shanghai during the 2nd World War


Here you will visit various places including the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum (In the site the old Ohel Moshe Synagogue),



enjoy a cup of coffee at White Horse Inn which was one of the most famous Cafe during that period.



You will also walk on Zhoushan Road (called Little Vienna at that time),


pass the Former Residence of Michael Blumenthal who was once the US Treasury Secretary, the Former Site of Jewish Refugee Shelter, the Former Site of the Far East Conference of the International Anti-War League, the Former Office of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and walk into the back lanes of some old compounds in this district where Jewish refugees once stayed during that period.



This amazing tour will be completed at the Huoshan Park to absorb the verdant beauty and enjoy a moment of reflection at the Monument that Memorializes Jewish Immigrants. As one of Shanghais tiny local gems, this park is filled with kids playing and running, grandmas and grandpas showing off their birds during the day. Over the course of the tour, your guide will tell you the cultural and commercial contribution of the Russian Jewish immigration at the turn of the century and the Jewish experience in Shanghai under the Japanese occupation during WWII. This is not just a superficial glance at the highlights of Jewish life in Shanghai. It is a mini-course led by an expert guide with encyclopedic knowledge and intense passion that brings to life a vanished world and attracts visitors from every continent.   



Some Info about Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum (In the site the old Ohel Moshe Synagogue):


The Ohel Moshe congregation was established by Russian Jewish immigrants in Shanghai in 1907. This Ashkenazi congregation was named after Moshe Greenberg, a member of the Russian Jewish community, and was first established in a rented space (not the current place). As the congregation grew to 250 families by the 1920s, Rabbi Meir Ashkenazi, Chief Rabbi of Shanghai, supported the creation of a new space for the congregation. In 1927, the current structure was created by remodeling an existing three-story building in the Hongkou District, removing the second floor and adding a mezzanine.


The Entrance of Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

In 2007, the Government of Hongkou District restored the synagogue to its original architectural style based on the original drawings in the municipal archives, and opened it as a museum commemorating the Jewish refugees. Some of the residential buildings from the ghetto period still stand around the former synagogue, though most have been demolished. The museum itself, and the remaining historic structures, are preserved as part of the Tilanqiao Historic Area.


More about Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum at Wikipedia:


More about Designated Area for Stateless Refugees of Shanghai at Wikipeida:


The Map of Shanghai Ark