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From the Rivers Of Babylon To The Whangpoo - Maisie Meyer

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Baghdadi Jews came to Shanghai via India and first settled in the foreign enclave in 1845. During their sojourn of over a century, they were exposed to vast changes in their social, economic, and political environment. The challenge that confronted this immigrant group was how, amidst alien surroundings, to forge trading relationships and be fully accepted by the foreign communities in China, whilst still maintaining their Jewish identity and cultural distinctiveness. Described in vivid detail, the lives, customs, and traditions of this immigrant group emerge against the backdrop of the Shanghai treaty port in the 19th and 20th centuries, and a turbulent era of rebellions and war in China. This book examines the interaction between the Baghdadi Jews and their Ashkenazi coreligionists, some 6-8,000 who escaped from religious persecution in Russia, and some 20,000 refugees from Nazi persecution. Shanghai became an embattled city from 1937, laboring under the stranglehold of Japanese occupation during World War II. The city’s subsequent incorporation into the Peoples’ Republic of China in 1949, signaled the end of the community with its members scattered across the world.

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