Jews of Shanghai
Last updated: 2004-03-02
The Spiro Ark is delighted to present
An illustrated lecture with 50 unusual photographs celebrating the publication of her book:
From the Rivers of Babylon to the Whangpoo
Date: 14 March 2004
Venue: New London Synagogue, NW8
Dr Meyers talk is based on the meticulously researched history of one century of Sephardi Jewish life in Shanghai. Her book and talk provide us with a rich colourful and panoramic tapestry depicting Jewish life in this little known corner of the Far East. Her lecture unravels the little known and fascinating story using a power point presentation of her photographs of a community which never exceeded 1000 people but achieved unproportionate economic and cultural heights. Through her talk, we will be introduced to the customs and occupations which the Baghdadi Jews brought with them from Iraq. Their business acumen has helped in developing Shanghai into one of the worlds leading financial centres. At the same time however, regrettably, some were also participating in the opium trade (but it was in an era when this trade was both legal and sociably acceptable).
An interesting part of Dr Meyers book and talk will highlight the relationship between the Baghdadi and the Russian Jews who began arriving in Shanghai around 1895 as refugees from Czarist persecution. The small community of Shanghai Baghdadi Jews also enabled 25,000 victims of Nazi persecution to be accommodated in the city.
Sadly the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in World War II and shortly after and the rise of the Peoples Republic of China forced the Jews of Shanghai to leave the country and scatter across the globe.
Dr Maisie Meyers painstaking writing of the book and her vivid talk commemorates the glorious rise and the disappearance of this unique community.