Wednesday, April 26, 2006

But Can You Get a Good Bagel?

Today I made one of the last arrangements I needed to make for my trip: I reserved a tour of Shanghai’s former Jewish ghetto.

This may sound like a joke, but it isn’t. Before and during WWII, Shanghai, which had been known as The Paris of the East, temporarily became The Casablanca of the East. It was easy to get into without documentation, and so became haven for refugees from all over. A lot of Eastern European Jews ended up there in the late 1930s because it was much easier to gain residency there than it was in Western countries. Virtually all Westerners abandoned Shanghai before the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, but apparently there still are traces of Jewish history to be found there. I confess, I spent several days in Shanghai in 1992 and didn’t notice a kosher thing, but I hadn’t known to look. This time, I’m taking a guided half-day tour, and hoping for better luck.

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