web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Sections

The Jews Of Harbin

        Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert went on a political mission to China and was greeted with much pomp and ceremony. During the visit Olmert took time to visit the city of Harbin, a city in the northeastern section of China, bordering Russia. Olmert’s family had lived there in the late 19th and early 20th century. In honor of his visit, the Chinese government renovated the Jewish cemetery in Harbin at the cost of $385,000. Few Jews realize that there was a thriving Jewish community in Harbin that at its peak had more then 25,000 members during the 1920′s.

 

         Harbin was important when it became the juncture of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Chinese-Eastern railway. Many Jews came to the area during the Russo-Japanese War and were demobilized in the area. Others came to escape the pogroms in European Russia as well as the harsh Russian decrees against the Jews that were not enforced in the far eastern provinces. Harbin was considered a haven for Jews.

 

         When Israel Cohen, a British Zionist leader, traveled around the world to collect money for the Zionist cause in 1920, he made sure to put Harbin on his itinerary. He found the community as diverse as any in Europe with synagogues, talmud Torahs, schools, orphanages, societies for helping the poor as well as all the social trappings one would expect to find in an established community.

 

         The meetings he held to raise money and convince people to move to the land of Israel were very well attended. In his book about his travels he states, “I soon realized that there were not scores of Jews in Harbin who were eager to go to Palestine.” This was the atmosphere in which the father of the present Prime Minister of Israel grew up.

 

         The community was made up of many notable personalities. In 1913 the chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Harbin was Alexander Kisilev (1866-1949), author of several works on halachah and books (Natsionalizm i evreistvoNationalism and Judaism) which were published in Russian in 1941. Family dynasties, such as the Bonner, Kabalkin, Krol, Mendelevich, Samsonovich and Skidelsky families, played an important role in the development of the local industries, especially wood and coal industries.

 

         During the Second World War the community was influential in helping Jewish refugees coming from Europe settle in Shanghai.

 

         Between 1945-47, Harbin was under Soviet occupation. Jewish community leaders were then arrested and sent to the Soviet interior. Most Jews of Harbin emigrated to the West in the years after World War II. During 1951-53, about 3,500 of the former “Chinese” Jews, most of them from Harbin, settled in Israel where they established a society of Chinese Jews. The cemetery was moved from its old location to Huang Shan during 1968-72, the years that marked the end of the Jewish community of Harbin. The last Jew in Harbin left in 1985. Old Jewish schools, streets, and houses are kept intact or have been renovated. Among these old buildings are two synagogues, a rabbinical school and the biggest Jewish cemetery in the Far East, in which there are about 700 gravestones with Hebrew inscriptions.

 

         For more information, go to www.jewsofchina.org, the website of Igud Yotzei Sin – the Association of Former Residents of China in Israel.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Jews Of Harbin”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abu Usamah Somali, thought to be Farah Mohammed Shirdon of Calgary, Alberta in Canada.
Canadian ISIS Fighter Threatens to Behead Netanyahu [video]
Latest Sections Stories
Mindy-092614-Choc-Roll

I should be pursuing plateaus of pure and holy, but I’m busy delving and developing palatable palates instead.

Schonfeld-logo1

Brown argues that this wholehearted living must extend into our parenting.

Twenties-092614-Abrams

If we truly honor the other participants in a conversation, we can support, empathize with, and even celebrate their feelings.

Twenties-092614-OU-Mission

I witnessed the true strength of Am Yisrael during those few days.

She writes intuitively, freely, and only afterwards understands the meaning of what she has written.

“I knew it was a great idea, a win-win situation for everyone,” said Burstein.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

“I would really love my mother-in-law …if she weren’t my mother-in-law.”

For each weekly reading, Rabbi Grysman begins with a synopsis of the Torah portion, followed by a focus on a major issue.

It’s Rosh Hashanah. A new year. Time for a fresh start. Time for a new slate. Time for change.

Governor Rick Scott visited North Miami Beach/Aventura on the morning of Wednesday, September 17.

While the cost per student is higher than mainstream schools, Metzuyan Academy ESE is a priceless educational opportunity for children with special needs in South Florida.

Challah-pa-looza helped get the community ready and excited about the upcoming Jewish New Year.

Miami businessman and philanthropist Eli Nash had many in tears as he shared his story of the horrific abuse he suffered from age 8 to 11.

More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/the-jews-of-harbin/2007/01/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: