Touro Law Center to Co-Sponsor International Conference on the Little-Known History of the Jewish in Shanghai

“Law & Society: The Jews of Shanghai” to examine unique history from perspectives of law, literature and sociology

May 28, 2015

More than 80 years ago, as the evils of Nazism spread across Europe, approximately 18,000 Eastern European Jews began fleeing to a most unlikely place – China -- because while most European countries callously shut their doors to fleeing Jews, the open port city of Shanghai welcomed them.

Now, on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center (Touro Law) and the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (SUIBE) will host a conference, “Law & Society: The Jews of Shanghai,”  to examine this unique history from a number of perspectives, including law, literature and sociology. 

While the legacy of Shanghai is well-known in other parts of the world – during a 2013 visit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the city a "haven" for Jews fleeing the Nazis – it still comes as a surprise to many in America.

“As a law school founded under Jewish auspices, Touro Law has an abiding interest in understanding the history of the Holocaust and teaching that to others,” said Patricia E. Salkin, Dean of Touro Law Center.  “We are honored to partner with SUIBE and explore the role that Shanghai played in allowing literally thousands of Jews to avoid the horrors of the Holocaust.”

Ni Shou Bin, Dean of SUIBE Law School, said, “It is a great pleasure for SUIBE to co-sponsor this commemorative symposium.  We feel so proud and appreciate the fact that we are so much a part of this great event.  Shanghai was the place of refuge for approximately 18,000 Jews during World War II. Today, Shanghai has seen tremendous progress in cultural diversity and has become a broader and more inclusive city.  For the conference, we hope that the friendship between the Chinese and Jewish nations could be consolidated by introducing Jewish histories and discussing the close connection of law and society.  We firmly believe the rule of law is the basis of steady economic growth, social peace and a better life for all people.”

More than 100 students, educators, historians and the families of the original Shanghai survivors are expected to gather in Shanghai for the conference, which runs from June 1 to June 3, to commemorate the important historical events that brought Jews to China.   There were, in fact, Jews living in Shanghai before the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s: In the 19th and early 20th centuries when Baghdadi Jews settled there, followed by Jews fleeing first the Czar and then the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution in 1917.  

“The history of the Jews in Shanghai, so little known in the United States, is made even more fascinating by the diversity of Jewish populations there in the 19th and 20th centuries,” said Rodger Citron, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Touro Law Center.  

Among the speakers at the conference are Manli Ho of San Francisco and Evelyn Pike Rubin of Jericho, Long Island.  Manli Ho is the daughter of Dr. Feng Shan Ho, who received the title of Righteous Among the Nations, Israel’s highest award, for courage in issuing Chinese visas to save Jews from the Shoah while he was the Chinese Consul General in Vienna from 1838 through 1940.  She has researched and presented extensively about her father’s courageous actions, which enabled thousands of Jews to obtain safe passage out of Austria. 

Evelyn Pike Rubin was born in Breslau, Germany.  Her family fled to Shanghai in 1939, where they survived difficult conditions, as recalled in her memoir, Ghetto Shanghai.

Major conference co-sponsors are the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics (SUIBE), the Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai (CJSS), the Shanghai Society for People’s Friendship Studies, and the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. Underwriting support was provided by the Sino-Judaic Institute (SJI), the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation, the Capobianco family, the Jacob D. Fuchsberg law firm, and the Herman Goldman Foundation.

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Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center’s 185,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art law school is located adjacent to both a state and a federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Touro Law’s proximity to the courthouses, coupled with programming developed to integrate the courtroom into the classroom, provide a one-of-a kind learning model for law students, combining a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty with a practical courtroom experience. Touro Law, which has a student body of approximately 650 and an alumni base of more than 6,000, offers full- and part-time J.D. programs, several dual degree programs and graduate law programs for US and foreign law graduates. Touro Law Center is part of the Touro College system.

Touro Law’s newly implemented Portals to Practice is a cutting-edge, experiential learning program that reconceives and restructures the law school experience. Portals to Practice expands the scope and quality of legal education by focusing on the development of legal professionals, from pre-law through post-graduation. 

About the Touro College and University System 
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris and Florida. New York Medical College, Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/media/.

For more info contact:
Patti Desrochers
Director of Communications
pattid@tourolaw.edu
(631) 761-7062

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