The earliest evidence of Jews in China dates from the eighth century. A cohesive group of some 1,000 persons settled in the ninth or tenth century at the invitation of the emperor in Kaifeng, capital of Honan Province. Descendants of these Jews, whose Jewishness has been lost through intermarriage, still live in Kaifeng. In more modern times, Jews settled in China from the 1840's with the cession of Hong Kong to Great Britain and the establishment of foreign concessions in Shanghai and other cities. The greatest influx of Jews in China was caused by the Nazi rise to power. About 20,000 Jews found shelter in Japanese occupied Shanghai between 1938 and 1941. After the end of the war, these Jews left for other parts of the world. The only Jewish community which remained was that in Hong Kong.
The Sassoon family arrived in Hong Kong when it was ceded to Great Britain in 1842. The Hong Kong Jewish community was established in 1857. The above postcard depicts the Ohel Leah synagogue which was opened in 1902.
Encyclopedia Judaica, 5:468-74; 8:963-64
Copyright © 1998 Edward Victor