An exhibition of vibrant photographs and artifacts from the families’ personal collections tells the little-known story of Shanghai’s Jewish community
Holocaust Museum LA presents “Hidden History: Recounting the Shanghai Jewish Story,” an exhibit on the little-known history of Shanghai’s resettled Jewish community. 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 powerful exhibition opens April 24 and runs through mid-August.
Before the Holocaust, Shanghai’s Jewish community included 1,000 Sephardi 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 anti-Semitic policies forced German and Austrian Jewish refugees to attempt to escape, but few countries let them in. Shanghai has become an unexpected haven for these Jewish refugees. After Pearl Harbor and the complete occupation of the city by the Japanese, Jewish refugees were forced to move to the Shanghai ghetto.
The experiences of five families 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 concentration camp postcards, a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) written in Chinese, and a talit (prayer shawl) embroidered with both the Star of David and a wreath of flowers. plum tree, a symbol of resilience and perseverance in Chinese culture.
Rothstein, an award-winning photojournalist, documented Shanghai’s Jewish community for the United Nations in 1946. His portraits convey the multi-faceted stories of despair, loss and refuge.
The museum will host several virtual programs alongside the exhibition, including a conference on May 5 with internationally acclaimed pianist and writer, Shanghai-born Misha Dichter; a talk on May 25 with Ann Rothstein Segan, daughter of Arthur Rothstein; and a conference on July 7 with Lawrence Tribe, famous jurist and professor of law at Harvard, born in Shanghai.
Information about these events and the exhibition is available at http://holocaustmuseumla.org/.
About the LA Holocaust Museum
Holocaust Museum LA is the first and oldest survivor-funded Holocaust museum in the United States and houses the largest collection of Holocaust-era artifacts on the West Coast. Since 1961, the museum has continued the founding survivors’ mission to commemorate those who perished, educate future generations about the Holocaust, and inspire a more dignified and humane world. Admission to the museum is free for all students and California residents. holocaustmuseumLA.org