Holocaust Museum LA presents “Hidden History: Recounting the Shanghai Jewish Story,” an exhibit about the little-known story of the resettled Jewish community of Shanghai. The exhibit is sponsored by East West Bank and told through the museum’s own collection of artifacts, artifacts on loan from families who lived in Shanghai and the intimate photographs of Arthur Rothstein. The exhibit is now open and runs until mid-August.
Prior to the Holocaust, the Shanghai Jewish community included 1,000 Sephardic Jews who arrived from Iraq in the mid-1800s as well as a few thousand Ashkenazi Jews who fled Russia. During the 1930s, Nazi violence and antisemitic policy forced German and Austrian Jewish refugees tried to escape, but few countries would let them in. Shanghai became an unexpected refugee for these Jewish refugees. Following Pearl Harbor and the Japanese’s full occupation of the city, the Jewish refugees were forced to relocate to the Shanghai Ghetto.
Five families’ experiences in Shanghai are highlighted in the exhibit: The Medavoy, Maimann, Kolber, Friedmann and Millettt families. The exhibit also features a yarmulke (Kippah) on loan from the Skirball Cultural Center. Family artifacts on display include postcards from concentration camps, a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) written in Chinese, and a tallit (prayer shawl) embroidered with both the Star of David and a wreath of plum blossoms, symbolic of resilience and perseverance in Chinese culture.
Rothstein, an award-winning photojournalist, documented the Shanghai Jewish community for the United Nations in 1946. His portraits convey the multifaceted stories of desperation, loss and refuge.
The museum will host several virtual programs in conjunction with the exhibit, including a talk on May 5 with internationally acclaimed pianist and writer Misha Dichter, who was born in Shanghai; a talk on May 25 with Ann Rothstein Segan, daughter of Arthur Rothstein; and a talk on July 7 with Lawrence Tribe, famed legal scholar and Harvard law professor who was born in Shanghai.
Information on these events and the exhibit are available at http://holocaustmuseumla.org/.