19 February 2010

San Francisco: 'Jews in China' series during March

Jews in Modern China is a series of programs touching on the Jewish experience, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee San Francisco.


The exhibit of photographs, documents and memorabilia portrays a little known chapter in Chinese and Jewish history. It follows three ethnic streams of Jewish communities that lived in harmony with their Chinese neighbors in Shanghai and other Chinese cities, 1840-1949:

-- Sephardic merchants, originally from Iraq, who played a significant role in the commercial and real estate development of Shanghai. Settling mainly in the British sector of the city, they built synagogues and established Jewish social service agencies, schools and other institutions that laid a foundation for Jewish communal life.

-- Russian Jews escaping czarist pogroms from the 1880s to World War I and after World War I, the Russian Revolution. This community brought Zionist organizations, Yiddish publications and other cultural activity to Shanghai’s French Concession, as well as to Harbin, further north.

-- European Jews escaping the coming Holocaust. Shanghai was an open city that did not require visas or passports to enter. Despite the Japanese occupation of Shanghai when they arrived, Jews lived in relative comfort, thanks to the previously settled Jewish community. However, in 1942 the Japanese, bowing to the wishes of their German allies, confined Jews who had come from Europe since 1937 to a squalid ghetto area until the end of the war.

The program is part of the Shanghai Celebration, a year-long program for the San Francisco Bay area, with exhibitions, films, performances, lectures. and other events. It also includes the Asian Art Museum's major Shanghai exhibit (February 12-September 5).

"Jews in Modern China" series includes:

Tuesday, March 2, 5:30pm - Officers Club, the Presidio, San Francisco

Exhibit viewing and a conversation between Professor Pan Guang, dean of Center for Jewish Studies, Shanghai; and Professor Thomas Gold, UC-Berkeley. Sponsors: American Jewish Committee San Francisco Office, Asia Society of
Northern California.
"Shanghai Jews: Art, Architecture and Survival"
Thursday, March 4, 7pm - Contemporary Jewish Museum

From the mid-19th-mid-20th centuries, Shanghai was transformed into a multi-cultural, international city. Presented by Nancy Berliner, Chinese art curator, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. Sponsors: Asian Art Museum, Holocaust Center of Northern California, American Jewish Committee San Francisco Office.
"Remembering Rena"
Sunday, March 7, 2pm - Officers Club, Presidio, San Francisco

A program honoring the late Rena Krasno, a Shanghai native whose books, lectures, and archival projects crafted a legacy of connection to the Jewish experience in China. Speakers will include colleagues, friends and family. Sponsors: The Sino-Judaic Institute, Pacific View Press.
"A Young Man in Shanghai: Troubles and Triumphs"
Wednesday, March 10, 7pm - Officers Club, Presidio, San Francisco
Author and educator Audrey Friedman Marcus, who will discuss the Shanghai experiences of her late husband, Fred Marcus, who fled Germany at age 15. His recently published diary depicts the challenges and struggles that he and some 20,000 fellow Jewish refugees encountered. Sponsors: American Jewish Committee San Francisco Office, Bureau of Jewish Education of San Francisco.
"Founders of the Shanghai Jewish Community: The Sephardic Story"
Sunday, March 14, 2pm - Officers Club, Presidio, San Francisco
Presented by Shanghai-born Leah Jacob Garrick - the fourth generation of her family to live there. She will discuss the history and legacy of Sephardic families who laid the foundation of the Shanghai Jewish community while playing a significant role in the business and architectural development of the city itself. Sponsors: China International Cultural Exchange Center, American Jewish Committee's San Francisco office.
Lehrhaus Judaica will also sponsor the related "Jews in Modern China" lecture series, at 4pm, March 21, at Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, and at 7pm April 29, at the Officers Club, Presidio. The series features Bay area residents who represent the Sephardic, Russian and Holocaust-refugee communities of China (1840-1949). Speakers include Rabbi Theodore Alexander, Leah Jacob Garrick and Inna Mink. Moderator: Linda Frank.

For more information, visit the AJC San Francisco.

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