Shanghai: A Jewish walking tour

Today must be Shanghai day!

Tracing the Tribe has covered gravestones, a film and now a Jewish walking tour of the city.

Take a look at this interesting city tour, covering seven Jewish-relevant sites, complete with a nice map.

For more, contact guide Patrick Cranley from Historic Shanghai.

The sites detailed, with photos, include:

— An estate built in 1925 by a British Jewish trader, Ray Joseph.

— The building where author Rena Krasno (1923-2009) lived with her parents, who came to Shanghai from Russia in the early 1920s. Her father was editor of “Our Life,” a tri-lingual Jewish magazine; her uncle Gabriel Rabinowitz designed Ohel Moshe synagogue (now a museum commemorating Shanghai’s Jewish refugees).

— The villa home to one of the most prominent Sephardic families, the Ezras, who owned several properties including the Astor House Hotel.

— A luxurious apartment building (1936) built by and named for Ray and Hannah Joseph.

— The Shanghai Conservatory of Music was the former Shanghai Jewish Club. Behind it is a German-style villa under renovation. It was the old clubhouse for a Zionist youth group, Betar.

— In back of the Fudan University Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital is the original B’nai Brith Polyclinic building (1934), know in the 1940s as the Shanghai Jewish Hospital.

— The Ezra family built (1934) an upscale residential community in Xinkang Huayuan.

See the complete article at the link above and see the photos.

JGSLA 2010: What you will find!

Don’t bother getting vaccinated for the genealogy bug – it won’t help! Just be prepared for an amazing genealogy immersion experience this year.

From gold-rush pioneers to goniffs, from geo-tagging to gazetteers, and many other exciting topics, JGSLA 2010 has gathered experts, archivists, professors and authors from around the world to share their knowledge of a diverse range of fascinating topics with you and your fellow conference attendees.

These experts will bring genealogy – and possibly your personal genealogy – to life and present a new world of possibilities.

Regardless of whether you identify as a mind-mapper, Google geek, PC-pusher, Mac-Maven, Litvak, Galitzianer or “somewhere in Russia,” JGSLA 2010 is for you!

In fact, you don’t even need to be Jewish or researching your Jewish heritage – many programs provide general information, no matter what you are personally researching.

You’ll never know whom you’ll connect with at lunch, having a cup of coffee or taking a workshop. A long lost cousin? Descendants of your ancestral village? Someone investigating your family?

Will this be the year you find someone to share your research, to collaborate with others, to design a website for your research interests? Will a new resource or database provide that all-important clue enabling a major breakthrough?

You won’t know unless you come to this year’s conference!

A few tidbits:

— Ancestry will provide classes and a free (by-appointment) digital scanning service for attendees.

— JewishGen’s Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias will present “JewishGen LIVE at L.A. LIVE” on their latest databases and search capabilities.

— Steve Morse, a household genealogy name, will present a series on his website’s resources, but his new program, presented with daughter Megan, will be “DNA and the Animal Kingdom: Evolution and Genealogy in the Natural World.”

Stay tuned for news on workshops, special interest groups, birds-of-a-feather groups, films, breakfasts and tours. Everything you need to know is at JGSLA 2010.

Portugal: Faro Jewish Heritage Center

Jewish history is found in surprising places, often by visitors who simply stumble by chance onto something rather interesting.

Tortoise Tales (a diary of motor home adventures) is a blog covering slow travel in a motorhome through Europe by two rather adventurous UK retirees Frances and Bernard Platman, who began their travels in October 2003.

In this post, they discuss their December 2009 visit to Faro, Portugal, in the Algarve region.

The Faro Jewish Heritage Center is the focus of this post.

The site covers the center, the cemetery, the museum and much more, as well as activities and events for the tiny permanent Jewish community (augmented by visitors) in this area – all thanks to former South Africans Ralf and Judy Pinto, who host holiday celebrations and other activities. If you’re planning a trip to the Algarve, contact them.

At right, see a photo of the Faro Jewish cemetery.

How did Frances Platman learn about the Pintos?

Shortly after arriving at Armacoa de Pera, on the Algarve in Portugal, I was reading the Portuguese English paper and noticed in the “what’s on” columns for 13th December a snippet saying if we wanted an invite to a Chanukah party just phone….. So I did and spoke to a charming man who originally hailed from South Africa but had been living full time in Portimao on the Algarve for a number of years.

He and his wife are instrumental in setting up the Algarve Jewish Community,

They have been organising events for special occasions since their arrival in Portugal. He is also the director of the Faro Jewish Heritage Centre, Cemetery and Museum, and offered to take us there.

The Centre is the only remaining vestige of the first post Inquisition Jewish presence in Portugal and the cemetery contains marble gravestones from the period 1838 to 1932. The small museum has many artefacts and original furniture from an 1820 synagogue together with a video, “Without the Past”.

There’s more in her blog post and much more on the Faro Jewish Heritage Center.

How was the Chanukah party?

The Chanukah party on the 13th December was very jolly, held in our hosts’ apartment. There were people there who were visiting just like us but also residents from all over the Algarve , some permanent and some who come and go from their country of origin. Fried foods were eaten, candles were lit and songs sang to remember the miracle of the holy oil in the temple which lasted for eight days although there was only enough for one when the Jewish people were besieged.

Jewish visitors to the area are always welcomed by this enthusiastic couple. We intend to keep in touch with them in the future as we have enjoyed our new friendship.

Thanks, Frances, for this post.

Readers interested in mobile home travel will also find Tortoise Tales interesting.

Macau: Jews in the east

Macau is the Las Vegas of the Far East.

Several years ago I visited Las Vegas and met with Sheldon Adelson at his offices in the Venetian. Evidence of his plans in Macau were obvious.

This week, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent carried an article on Macau.

Two years ago, Macau lay somewhere between its colorful history and the city it wanted to be in the 21st century. It boasted a venerable collection of museums and sites celebrating its fusion of Chinese and Portuguese culture, and yet was the world’s most ambitious construction site.

Billionaire casino hoteliers Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson placed heavy bets on Macau properties, designed to push the envelope beyond their Las Vegas establishments.

Although Las Vegas – which Adelson calls “Disney Land for adults” – is in an economic downturn, Macau is flourishing. His Venetian Macau development in the Cotai Strip has 3,000 rooms, a mall and an upscale Four Seasons hotel.

Visitors are increasing to the area’s museums, parks, restaurants and UNESCO Heritage sites.

According to Macau Tourist Office guide Teresa Costa Gomes (who claims some Jewish ancestry), Jews are coming there from around the world.

Although many travel to Hong Kong for major holidays, Gomes expects this will change.

The article includes the comments of Israeli Priel Manes who now lives there.

We sat down for a chat in the tastefully opulent lobby of the Ponte 16 Sofitel to discuss what made Macau such an exciting, attractive place for young Jewish professionals in such fields as education and security (there is an appreciation for Mossad-trained individuals among casino, club and retail owners).

“Though some people in Hong Kong will insist the area’s entire Jewish community is concentrated in Hong Kong, Macau has a Jewish community that is definitely growing” with arrivals “from Israel, Australia, Canada and the U.S. to work and study,” explains the 25-year-old student.

“Out of necessity, we have made efforts to network and meet one another, and groups like Macau Jewish Singles reflect this,” she says. “Even general business networking parties have been great; when you mention you’re from Israel, several other people will take an interest” and reveal that they are Jewish as well.

Over the past four years, the Jewish community has come together in Macau. Most are professionals, ages 30-50.

There’s even talk about the need for a center or synagogue.

Can a Jewish genealogical society be far behind? There’s already a fledgling Jewish genealogy group in Hong Kong. Anyone up for a future international conference of Jewish genealogy in Macau?

Visit the Macau Tourism site for more information.

Philly 2009: ‘Inquirer’ covers opening night

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on this year’s conference in this story of a few days ago.

It covered keynote speaker Father Patrick Desbois and his Ukraine project, tours, workshops and more.

The conference, which continues through Friday at the Sheraton Philadelphia Center City Hotel, will not dwell on the Holocaust.

With walking tours and workshops bearing titles such as “Mapping Madness” and “The Role of Philadelphia Jews in the Rise of Basketball,” its overall tone is buoyant and industrious.

Yet, program chairman Mark Halpern pointed out, the “imperative” that compels Jewish interest in genealogy is serious.

“Jewish families have been fractured for a long time,” said Halpern, an amateur genealogist. Decades before the Nazi extermination of six million, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Eastern Europe to escape persecution.

For many of their children and grandchildren, he said, genealogy is “a way to reclaim the lives and history” of those who fled or were executed.

As of Thursday morning, the count was about 950 attendees, and the conference featured some 125 presenters.

The 12-page list of workshops and activities includes “Finding Places in the Russian Empire,” “Learning the Cyrillic Alphabet,” “The Changing Borders of Eastern Europe,” “Common Genetic Traits and Diseases” of Jews, and “Finding Your Jewish Ancestors on Ancestry.com.”

One of several field trips – some 100 signed up for the tours – visited the South Jersey chicken farms where many Jewish immigrants started their lives in America.

Although many programs focused on Eastern European Jewish identity, there were also several Sephardic topics and many technological sessions.

Read the complete story at the link above for more on Father Debois.