The Stories of WWII Survivors Live On Through New Projects Memorializing the Remarkable History of 20,000 Jewish Refugees in Shanghai

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    Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum Exhibition Comes to NYC for First Time Since Major
    Expansion; Chinese-Jewish Cultural Connection Center Announced by Descendant of Refugees;
    New Films, Theatrical Shows, and Musical Performances to Launch Across the U.S. & China

    As part of a wave of new cultural projects that honor the
    legacy of the 20,000 Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi persecution during World War II by
    finding a rare safe haven in Shanghai, the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum is announcing
    the New York visit of a new exhibit titled “Shanghai, Homeland Once Upon a Time – Jewish
    Refugees and Shanghai.” The exhibit represents the Museum’s first overseas exhibition since
    its significant expansion in 2020. An opening ceremony on August 1st convened Jewish and
    Chinese representatives, descendants of refugees, and special performances to celebrate the
    exhibit’s opening.

    Showcasing more than 200 photographs and approximately 30 pieces of replica memorabilia
    from the museum’s expanded collection, as well as videos and personal stories from Jewish
    refugees and their descendants, the exhibit is open to the public for free from August 1-14,
    2023, 9 am-8 pm, at Fosun Plaza (28 Liberty Street) in downtown Manhattan.
    The content of the exhibition is drawn from the Museum’s newly expanded collection and is
    divided into six sections: Fleeing to Shanghai, Starting a New Life, Bittersweet Memories,
    After the War, Special Bonds, and A New Look of the Homeland. Each part provides a
    historical background narrates the experiences and stories of the Jewish refugees and depicts
    the details of their lives and their enduring partnership with the Chinese people. In addition, it
    features a number of extraordinary stories from this unique historical period, with personal
    recollections and memories transcribed directly from the Jewish refugees, such as stories from
    some of the 400 Jewish musicians who helped to shape China’s musical landscape for
    generations.

    The exhibit is one of several cultural programs and collaborative initiatives between individuals
    and organizations from the U.S. and China in the coming months that seek to keep alive the
    unique stories of the Jewish refugees. Upcoming events and initiatives span-new
    documentaries, musical compositions, theatrical performances, and cultural centers, including:

    ● Chinese-Jewish Cultural Connection Center: During the August 1 opening ceremony,
    Xi-Hui Li, grandson of a Jewish refugee to Shanghai and son of the first Chinese-Jewish
    descendant to emigrate to Israel announced the initiative to establish this new nonprofit
    to be based in Shanghai with offices planned across the U.S. and Israel. The Center
    aims to connect and unite the original Jewish refugees, their descendants, and related
    individuals, as well as to promote ongoing shared interactions between the Chinese and
    Jewish people.

    ● “Jewish Melodies Left in Shanghai”, Film Premiere, Harmony Gold Preview House,
    Los Angeles, July 29, 2023, at 7:30 pm: A documentary recalling the stories of Jewish
    performers and composers active in Shanghai from the 1920s to the 1940s, including
    the Chinese-inspired works of Jewish composer Aaron Avshalomov and Jewish Violinist
    Otto Joachim, as well as other Chinese and Jewish musicians. The film has been
    co-produced by Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
    and Shanghai Media Group Documentary Center, supported by the Shanghai Jewish
    Refugees Museum, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, China – Israel Innovation Hub, and
    Lyceum Theatre in Shanghai.

    ● Oratorio: “Émigré,” in collaboration with the New York Philharmonic, February 29 –
    March 1, 2024: An international cast joins the NY Phil for the US Premiere of this new
    oratorio that traces the story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai to escape the
    Holocaust. Jointly commissioned by Maestro Long Yu, the Shanghai Symphony
    Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, Émigré was composed by award-winning
    musician Aaron Zigman, with lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell and
    songwriter Brock Walsh. The work will premiere on November 17, 2023, at the Jaguar
    Shanghai Symphony Hall in China before its U.S. premiere on February 29 and March 1,
    2024 at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.

    ● Shanghai Sonatas: A new American musical with a book by Alan Goodson, lyrics by
    Joyce Hill Stoner and music by Sean Gao. Based on the memoirs of Shanghai Jewish
    refugees, this musical shares how music helped them survive the war and how they
    taught classical music to the local Chinese, forever changing the landscape of music in
    Shanghai greatly influenced the growth of classical music in China and the world.
    The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum has provided support to the creative team with
    invaluable historical content and connections in the global Shanghai Jewish refugees
    community. Shanghai Sonatas is in development in New York City and is produced by
    MEMOR NYC is an organization dedicated to investment in the field of art and culture.
    (ShanghaiSonatas.com)

    Chen Jian, Director of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum said, “The incredible stories
    of the Jewish refugees who fled Europe and found a new home in Shanghai deserves to be
    known by all. Sadly, there are few living representatives still available to share their experiences.
    It is with great pride that we are building upon and strengthening our connections with the
    descendants of the ‘Shanghailanders’ as they called themselves, so that we may hear their
    stories, learn more about the many examples of cooperation and friendship, and carry on their
    legacy through future generations. We’re particularly thrilled to bring this exhibition to New York
    City, which has the largest Jewish population of any city in the world, and is excited to see
    other initiatives being created that tell these stories in so many varied and interesting ways.”

    The opening ceremony also included remarks by Museum Director Chen Jian, representatives
    of the American Jewish community, former Jewish refugees, and their descendants including
    refugee Jerry Lindenstraus, Dean Bloch, son of the late David Ludwig Bloch, Jennifer
    Grebenschikoff and Elizabeth Grebenschikof, daughters of the late Betty Grebenschikoff, and
    Ellen Kracko, daughter of the late Ruth Chaim, as well as New York City Commissioner for
    International Affairs Edward Mermelstein, Vice President of Shanghai People’s Association for
    Friendship with Foreign Countries Jing Ying, and Chinese Consul General in New York Huang
    Ping. It also featured a live performance of selected songs from the musical in development
    “Shanghai Sonatas” by Broadway singing actors Xiaoqing Zhang and Robert Petkoff, and Music
    Director and piano accompanist Asher Denberg. At the ceremony, a short film called “Shanghai
    Let’s Meet” was premiered, welcoming Jewish families and all other visitors to Shanghai to see
    more about this period in history and to experience the city’s unique blend of historic and
    modern cultures.

    The exhibition is being organized by the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum; hosted by the
    Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, and the Shanghai Fosun
    Foundation; supported by the Consulate General of the United States of America in Shanghai,
    the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, Fosun Foundation (New
    York), IP Shanghai, and the Shanghai Diamond Exchange; in partnership with America
    China Public Affairs Institute and the Shanghai Chinese-Jewish Culture Connection Center.

    About the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum
    Founded in 2007, the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum commemorates a time in which
    China was one of the few countries to welcome Jewish evacuees escaping from Europe. About
    20,000 Jews ended up making the journey to Shanghai between 1938-1941. Situated in the
    only existing historical site in China that reflects the lives of Jewish refugees during World War
    II, the museum utilizes advanced technology and interactive displays to enable visitors to
    experience the history of Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Originally built around the Ohel Moshe
    Synagogue, one of the Jewish activity centers in Shanghai, the museum completed an
    expansion and renovation project in December 2020. The renovation expanded the museum’s
    size from 1000 to 4000 square meters, and greatly increased its ability to showcase its growing
    collection of memorabilia and artifacts donated by Jewish refugees, their descendants, and their
    Shanghainese neighbors. The museum collects historical materials and conducts academic
    research on this topic. (shhkjrm.com)
    New York Jewish Travel Guide

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