Press Releases

“Sanctuary in Shanghai” Exhibit Sheds Light on Little-Known Part of Holocaust History


A little-known piece of Holocaust history will come to light when W. Michael Blumenthal, a former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and current director of the Jewish Museum Berlin who survived the Holocaust in Shanghai, will share his experiences at the opening reception of “Sanctuary in Shanghai” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17. He will be joined by Deputy Consul General Cheng Lei of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York City.

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The reception will take place at Gaelen Gallery West, Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus, 901 Rt. 10, Whippany. The exhibit will be on display from December 12-January 21. On loan from the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, “Sanctuary in Shanghai” is sponsored by the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest.

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From the 1930s to 1940s, thousands of Jews fled to Shanghai to escape the Nazis. Shanghai opened its arms to the refugees while almost all Western countries refused to accept them. It is estimated that between 1933-1941, around 30,000 Jewish refugees arrived in Shanghai from Germany and countries annexed by Nazi Germany, and 22,000 chose to stay in Shanghai when the war in the Pacific broke out in December 1941. Some of the refugees were born there, some had their Bar Mitzvah at the Ohel Moshe Synagogue, some got married, and others just struggled to get their lives in Shanghai on track again.

During the tough times in ghetto, Jewish refugees lived harmoniously with the local people, overcoming numerous difficulties together. They also introduced sophisticated technologies and European cultures to the Chinese people.

The Holocaust Council, a program of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ is dedicated to remembering the Holocaust and conveying its history and lessons through the context of what it means to be a moral and responsible citizen. This emphasis on mutual responsibility is integral to Federation’s commitment of helping Jews and others in need.

Funding for the exhibit is made possible by the Darivoff Family Foundation. The exhibit and opening reception are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information and to RSVP, contact or (973) 929-3194.

Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ (Federation) stands at the center of a network of 27 partner agencies dedicated to providing comprehensive social services and meeting the educational, vocational, recreational, and social needs of Jews locally, in Israel, and in 70 countries around the world. Federation also creates ways/spaces for people to connect to a multitude of Jewish experiences in personally meaningful ways. Responding to emergency and disaster situations around the world is another important part of the Federation mission.

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