The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 2, 1997 · Page 12
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 12

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, December 2, 1997
Page 12
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12A THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1997 Jewish community builds on old roots in Shanghai 'It's lonely. I have no family here, so it's good to be part of a community. And because it's a Jewish community, I go to a lot more religious activities than I would have.' JAY GOLDBERG From Los Angeles What does home equity time Shanghai was the only city in the world that did not require a visa, and it attracted thousands of displaced people. After the war, most Jews returned to the West, although a few stayed on. The current crop of Jews in Shanghai probably has most in common with earlier generations of foreign Jews who came seeking opportunities after the city was opened to foreign trade under the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing. The city is again open to entrepreneurial foreign Jews. Many of them, sensitive to the city's abrasive edge, are tapping their community for support "It's lonely," said Jay Goldberg, 26, of Los Angeles. "I have no family here, so it's good to be part of a community. And because it's a Jewish community, I go to a lot more religious activities than I would have." LOOK LIKE? The New York Times r SHANGHAI, China - David Issokson of Durham, N.H., arrived here not long ago, a 1997 graduate of McGill University in search of gainful employment. He is determined, resourceful and Jewish, and he knows how to network. I' "On my second day here, I Came to this synagogue and I met the old guy," Issokson said recently, referring to Wang Faliang, the administrator of the Ohel Moishe Synagogue, which was a center for Jews fleeing Nazi Europe and is now a government office and a small museum. "He went to his desk and got Seth Kapla"-' ard. That was the connect . Seth was the man. He kno jveryone." ' how! Kaplan, a determine ourceful Jew from New York all accounts the catalyst for is fast becoming the most active and organized Jewish fcbmmunity in Shanghai since MTorld War II. He fields increasing pjunbers of calls each week from gey arrivals such as Issokson, t "6m international Jewish leaders assing through town, from the sraeli consulate and from former Jewish residents. tlltl have a 20-year plan in Shanghai," said Kaplan, 31. "I'm going to build my company and career here, I'm going to try to End a wife who meets my Jewish heeds and my needs to stay in Shanghai, and I'd like to build a Jewish family." 'JfThat dream has fueled Kap- UHltWIBtt- lan's mission to identify and mobilize the resident Jews whose numbers are mushrooming here with that of the foreign community as a whole. When he moved to Shanghai in August 1996 with ambitions to start his own company, eventually settling on a private, foreign-administered university in the nearby city of Ningbo, he knew of only one other Jew in Shanghai. By Passover of this year, he had 70 names in his database. He formed an executive committee, of which he is president, and together the members are executing his vision to sponsor weekly Sabbath dinners, to provide a Hebrew school for Jewish children, to bring a permanent rabbi, and to have a synagogue for these events. The current community of about 200 people is something of a rebirth for the Jewish population here, which numbered up to 25,000 in the late 1930's. At that Living in Shanghai has not been easy for Barry Wicksman, originally from New York, who moved from South Korea several months ago to set up an international kindergarten and preschool near the Shanghai zoo. Frustrated and overwhelmed by daily challenges complicated banking, unreliable phones and food concerns (he is a vegetarian) Wicksman said the Jewish community has been a heartening find. "I have gotten more into my Judaism being here," he said, adding that his spiritual tendencies had been leaning more toward Buddhism and Taoism. 1 Good question. 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