Jewish Refugees Museum

Formerly the Ohel Moshe Synagogue, the exhibitions displays stories of Shanghai Jews in words and pictures.

TravelCurious Tip

Explore the area around the museum, the Tilanqiao Historic District, where many of the living quarters used by the refugees still stand today

During the Second World War, many Jews fled Europe to escape the Holocaust, and some of them ended up in Shanghai. This museum is built on the site of the former Moishe Synagogue and commemorates the Jewish refugees who tried to rebuilt their lives here: the 20,000 Jewish residents of the Shanghai Ghetto during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai.

In the 1930s, Nazi Germany strongly encouraged German and Austrian Jews to emigrate, but most countries closed their doors to them. Shanghai and the Dominican Republic were two exceptions. In receiving 20,000 Jewish refugees, Shanghai received the most of any city in the world. However, restrictions were again imposed on them under Japanese rule, and eventually China descended into the civil war that ended with victory for the Community Party. By 1956, most Shanghai Jews had emigrated once more.

This museum encompasses the old synagogue building, along with two exhibition halls and a courtyard. On show are a range of artefacts that illustrate how the Jewish refugees lived at the time, as well as many historical photographs and artworks. The story of the Jews in Shanghai is a fascinating and rather touching one from a frightening time.

When the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin paid a visit to the museum, he left these words in the guestbook, “The Jewish People were protected by Shanghai People when they were murdered and driven out by Nazis and wandered in the world. The Israeli Government, Jewish People and I thank for their help from the bottom of our heart.”

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Shanghai
The Bund
As the city's stand out landmark, this remarkable waterfront is perfect for strolling and people-watching.
Lu Xun Park
Formerly known as Hongkou Park, this is one of the city's most pleasant green spaces.
Duolun Road Cultural Street
This picturesque street was once the home of many of China's most famous writers.
Hongde Temple
This church is built in a Chinese style and features a grey-brick interior and high wooden ceilings.
Shanghai Duolon Museum of Modern Art
Expand your knowledge at this lesser known art museum focusing on experimental contemporary art.
Anren Street
Stroll through the few remaining laneway houses and see traditional community living that is fast disappearing.

Related Tours

Private Tour Off the Beaten Track: Hongkou
Step off the beaten track and experience a part of Shanghai that is a little off the tourist radar: Hongkou. This former international settlement has a distinct atmosphere and look. During this tour you will learn about one of China’s most famous writers, Lu Xun, and about the fascinating history of the Jewish community in Shanghai.

  • Commence your tour at the Lu Xun Museum 
  • Explore the exhibitions displaying videos, photos, and wax works 
  • Stroll through Lu Xun Park 
  • Visit the vibrant Duolun Road Cultural Street 
  • Snap photos of Hongde Temple
  • Wander through  Duolun Museum of Modern Art 
  • Learn about the Shanghai Jewish community at the Jewish Refugees Museum 
The Lu Xun Legacy

You will walk within the Lu Xun Museum that was once his former residence. Here, the life and creative output of the author is displayed with videos, photographs and wax works. Then, take a stroll through one of the city’s most delightful green spaces - Lu Xun Park that holds the famous tomb. You can watch people practising ballroom dancing and tai chi and, if you’re in the mood, your helpful guide will help you charter a boat and take it out onto the small lake.

Duolun Street 

Next, you visit the vibrant Duolun Road Cultural Street where the Hongde Temple and Duolun Museum of Modern Art are located. With its focus on experimental contemporary art, you will get a taste of Shanghai’s modern cultural scene.

The Jewish History

Finally, a visit to the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue - now the Jewish Refugees Museum - will immerse you in a fascinating part of Shanghai’s history. Used to house the Jewish ghetto during World War 2, the occupying Japanese forces however refused German demands to construct extermination camps on Chongming Island. Its exhibition rooms house the stories of Shanghai Jews in pictures and words. 

Travel Curious Tip: Remember to purchase postcards at the Duolun Museum of Modern Art to post home to family & friends!

We built this tour because
 it invites travellers to gain a comprehensive understanding of Shanghai's complex history, whilst visiting a selection of stunning sites. 


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