Crossroads – Jewish People Of China

Who’s involved

Migration Heritage Centre
Sydney Jewish Museum
Australian National Maritime Museum
Powerhouse Museum
Gallery 4A (Asia-Australia Arts Centre)
Department of Sociology, University of Technology, Sydney
Department of Semitic Studies, University of Sydney
Sydney-based former Shanghai Jews
Chinese community organisations

When and where

Project location: Greater Sydney
Project status: Completed project
Date of completion: March 2002

Project description

From the 1840s until well after the Second World War, Jewish people from many different places made a home in Shanghai. Sephardic Jews from Baghdad, Russian Jews, and later Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany forced to leave Europe by Nazi persecution, all settled in Shanghai. During the war, Polish and Lithuanian Jews also found refuge in Shanghai, but with the city now under occupation by the Japanese Army, these newly-arrived refugees from Central Europe were separated from the Jewish community and forced into a ghetto in North Shanghai, where they suffered great hardship. Sephardic Jews holding British passports were also placed in POW camps. After the war, most Jews left Shanghai, emigrating to Australia, the USA, Israel and other places.

Through stories, newspapers and photographs, the exhibition traces the history of the different Jewish communities, and explores their ways of life in Shanghai. Focussing on the groups who came to Australia, the exhibition will also display personal artefacts and maps/models of significant districts of Shanghai.

What will the project achieve?

The exhibition program will provide better knowledge of a little-known but fascinating chapter of modern history. The project’s major exhibitions will take place in two venues, the Sydney Jewish Museum (17 October 2001 – 18 March 2002) and the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney (early 2002). Accompanying exhibitions will be held at Gallery 4A (7 February 2002 – 9th March 2002) and the Powerhouse Museum (27 October 2001 – 31 March 2002).

In addition to the exhibitions, there will be a comprehensive public and education program including films, seminars, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations and food tasting, as well as a recreation of a Jewish cafe scene.

Project contact

Alan Jacobs – Project Manager, Crossroads: Shanghai and the Jews of China
Sydney Jewish Museum

Phone 02 9365 1991
Fax 02 9365 1991


148 Darlinghurst Road