Jewish Seville: La Judería

Discover with us the most beautiful corners and the most illustrious characters of what was the most extensive Jewish quarter of the Iberian Peninsula.
The Jewish Quarter of Seville is the ultimate place to retrace the footprints of Jewish history in Spain. A neighborhood of singular beauty described by the great romantic travelers of the 19th century. A place to discover the fascinating history of the Jews in the capital of Andalusia.
This visit can be combined with a visit to the Real Alcazar, the oldest royal palace in use in Europe. In the Royal Palace of Seville, Jewish intellectuals, musicians and poets played an important role both in the court of the Muslim king Al-Mutamid and in the court of the Christian kings Fernando III and Alfonso X.
Discover with us the heart of Jewish Andalusia and the fascinating story of the Royal Jews of Seville.

Harbin Jewish Cemetery

The Harbin Jewish Cemetery is the witness of friendship between the Chinese and Jews. As a must-see for the Jews who visit Harbin, the cemetery is the biggest and best-protected Jewish cemetery of its kind in the Far East. The cemetery was initially established at No. 54, Dongda Zhi Street in 1903. During the 1920’s it was extended and relocated to Tai’an Street. With its 2,420 quare meters it was the largest among alien residents’ cemeteries at that time in Harbin. In 1958, the Harbin government decided to move the Jewish Cemetery to the Huang Shan (Royal Hill) Public Cemetery located at the outskirts of Harbin′s municipal boundaries. From approximate 3,000 graves of which 1,200 with tombstones, 853 were selected and transferred to an area of 6,532 square meters in an eastern suburb about 10 km from the center of Harbin.

The Jewish cemetery on the Huang Shan Public Cemetery adjoins in the north to the Chinese Cemetery, and in the west to the Russian Cemetery. An alley beginning at the entrance area of the Jewish cemetery leads to the north. One small lane, branching off from the alley, leads to the eastern and western parts. Besides these two are no other lanes on the cemetery. The area of the Jewish cemetery is divided in three areas comprise graves and tombstones: In a north, northeast and western area.

In the center of the entrance area of the Jewish cemetery stands a monument designed as a Magen David, which was erected in 2006. In the east of this area was built a Tahara-house (according to the Jewish ritual washing procedure of the deceased) by the Chinese in 2004. The whole process of maintenance and enhancement was promoted by a biographical coincidence: Israel′s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s grandfather  J.J. Olmert lived, died, and is buried in Harbin. For this reason the Chinese municipality erected a memorial stone opposite the Tahara-house in honor of the living Israel′s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. (Text by IceFestivalHarbin)

The Jewish Story of Harbin

The city of Harbin is the capital of Heilung Kiang province in northern Manchuria, northeast China. The city’s development began with the invasion of the Russians in Manchuria in the 19th century when the Russo-Manchurian treaty allowed Russia to build the Chinese Eastern railway. During this time Harbin became the center of the railway project and the chief engineer of the building board was a man named Alexander Yugovich who was born into a Jewish family but later converted to Christianity. When the line opened for traffic in 1903, many Russian Jewish families moved into Harbin where they were granted a better status than they had in Russia. The Karaites and Jews, both minority groups in the city, were granted plots of land on the outskirts of the city and were allowed to establish businesses.

Harbin Museum of Jewish History and Culture | Old Synagogue

Credit: xiquinhosilva from Cacau, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1903 the Jewish community of Harbin had around 500 residents and this number quickly grew to 8,000 by 1908. The community decided to build a synagogue which they called the “Main Synagogue” and it took just under 2 years to build. Today, the synagogue can be found on Tongjiang street, Daoli district. The community also established the first Jewish cemetery in China in 1903, which later had more than 2,000 tombs. Within the community several businesses flourished including a hospital, several clubs, and an elderly home. The hospital provided care for the Jewish residence as well as much of the general population.  Thought the town also had a religious elementary and secondary school, many of the Jewish students attended non-Jewish schools due to lack of classes.

The new synagogue in Harbin

Following the outbreak of World War I in November 1914, Harbin’s Jewish community  joined the Jewish Committee for the Help of War Victims. This organization was active until 1920, but it was able to help over 200,000 war refugees have access food, dormitories, hospitals, and professional courses. After World War I, the Jewish community had an influx of Jewish refugees and the population peaked to 10,000 or 15,000 by the early 1930’s. However, the population quickly declined to about 5,000 1939. The population continued to thrive after the war and a new synagogue, a Jewish library, a new hospital, a school for women, a Jewish National bank, and another Jewish secondary school were established. 

Because Harbin was well-known as being a cultural center, many famous Jewish actors came to perform in Harbin. Twenty Jewish newspapers were established between 1918 and 1930 and several youth clubs associated with the Zionist movement were created. Between 1921 and 1925, several youth groups from the HaShomer HaTzair Zionist movement emigrated to Palestine and the Harbin branch of the HaShomer HaTzair was set up in 1927. In 1929, Betar, the Zionist youth movement, was founded by a large group of former members of the HaShomer HaTzair movement. When Zionism was outlawed in the Soviet Union, Harbin because a hub of Zionism and another wave of Jewish immigration occurred with the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1925. In December 1937, Harbin held the first of three Zionist conferences for Jewish communities in the Far East.

Under Russian rule, the Jews community of Harbin enjoyed the same rights as all other foreigners but there was an economic crisis in 1928, when the Chinese Eastern Railway was handed over to Chinese, and many Jews left Harbin. The Jews who left went to Shanghai, Ten-Tsin, other cities in China, or the Soviet Union. The good living conditions of the Jews in Harbin quickly changed when the Japanese took control of Manchuria and establishment of a puppet regime, which allowed Jews to be subjected to terror and extortion.

When World War II began, Jews in Harbin became even more oppressed and anti-Semitic politics were put in place. Under Japanese rule, the Zionist youth movements helped to keep Jewish national life alive; with the help of Betar and Maccabi, Jewish cultural activities continued to be organized. Four synagogues had been established until 1950, but many Jews left Harbin at the outbreak of the war. They emigrated to the United States, Australia, Brazil, and other countries. Between 1945 and 1957, Harbin was under Soviet control and many Jewish leaders were arrested and sent to the Soviet interior. After the war ended, most of the Jewish in Harbin left and even 3,500 settled in Israel and established their own society of Chinese Jews. The cemetery was moved to a new location during the 1960’s and the last Jew in Harbin left in 1985.

Harbin Museum of Jewish History and Culture | Harbin “Main Synagogue”

Credit: xiquinhosilva from Cacau, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Most of the Jewish sites have been left intact or have been renovated and there are two synagogues, a rabbinical school, and the largest Jewish cemetery of the Far East with about 700 gravestones, for visitors to see. The new Synagogue has been converted into the Harbin Museum of Jewish History and Culture which is open year round to tourists and locals interested in the rich history of Jews in Harbin. The old synagogue was recently renovated into a concert hall, known as the Old Synagogue or Laohuitang Concert Hall.

Jewish Cordoba: The City of Maimonides

The Jewish quarter of Córdoba is one of the best preserved medieval Jewish quarters in all of Europe. Home of great thinkers and unsurpassed beauty, its streets and houses keep secrets that fascinate both locals and visitors. In it we can visit the only medieval synagogue preserved until today in Andalusia. Discover with us the fascinating history of this neighborhood, declared a world heritage by the UNESCO, as well as the life and work of its most famous inhabitants such as the great thinker Maimonides.

Samantha Song

Hi, I’am a Harbin native with an excellent level of spoken English and I want to show you Harbin in a way you’ll remember. After graduating from Harbin Normal University, I spend 4 years in Beijing, working in international companies where I loved meeting people from so many different countries. So when I came back to my hometown Harbin, I was inspired to show the sights of Harbin to the world! I felt that had the passion, the experience and the love of communication to do the job well! I became a private English-speaking tour guide in Harbin in 2011 and love showing people my city.

I have been an English-speaking tour guide for seven years now and I’m passionate about this job. I can help you plan your Harbin VIP tour, private tour, provide transport, arrange airport pick-up and drop off and great places to eat. My private tours are tailored to your particular interests and enthusiasms.

If you want to do a family trip or group trip, that is great! I have a lot of experience with family, senior and group trips. I like children and have child of my own , she is 5 years old. My tour vehicle is comfortable, clean and no-smoking for all the family, and with my license and certificates, I can help you arrange Harbin attractions entrance tickets a head and accompany you go into attractions.

MaoMao XunRou DaBing

MaoMao XunRou DaBing serves a variety of Dongbei food and has been in business for thirty years in business. This restaurant is popular among locals and is walking distance from many of the city’s Jewish sites. Their dishes vary from smokedmeat, Chinese pancakes, sea cucumbers and other seafood.

Shangri-la Hotel

Nestled along the serene Songhua River, Shangri-La Harbin offers a warm embrace in the Ice City. The hotel features 396 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, and a new family floor with 20 Deluxe Family Rooms and six Themed Family Suites. A shared pantry room offers a range of children’s facilities and equipment to ensure you enjoy your family travel.

 

Harbin Old Synagogue Concert Hall

The Harbin Old Synagogue Concert Hall  is a concert hall in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China, and formerly the old synagogue of Harbin from 1909 to 1963. Upon its renovation in 2014, it was reopened as a major concert hall in the city.

The city of Harbin was home to thousands of Jews. The number of Jewish diasporas living in Harbin was over 20,000 in the 1920s, making Harbin the largest gregarious center for Jews in the Far East. On 15 January 1909, the hall opened as Harbin General Synagogue (哈尔滨犹太总会堂), the main Jewish religious site for the city. The former Jewish middle school was adjacent to the synagogue, whose site is still well preserved and was transferred into a music school.

In June 1931, the building was devastated by a great fire and was refurbished. Abraham Kaufman, then leader of Harbin Jewish community, was working in the synagogue from 1919 to 1945. In 2013, over 1 billion Chinese yuan was spent by Harbin municipal government on the refurbishment of the building and transfer to a music hall. The hall reopened in 2014.

Image credit: Trip.com

13-Day Jewish Heritage Tour

Discover China’s Jewish history as well as the most popular attractions. This Jewish Heritage Tour offers a special experience, visiting sites in Beijing, Harbin, Kaifeng and Shanghai.

4-Day Harbin Old Jewish Sites and Ice Festival Tour

Overview: This tour is designed for Harbin Ice and Snow Festival visitors with an interest or memory of Jewish habitation in Harbin during the World War I and World War II. A visit to Jewish sites will help you to learn more about Jewish people’s living there and became a very vibrant part of Harbin’s history.

Tour Highlights: New Synagogue, Sun Island Snow Sculpture Art Expo, St. Sofia Church, Siberian Tiger Park, Ice and Snow World, Huangshan Jewish Cemetery, Jewish Community, Jewish Museum