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A Gift of Life

Jewish Stone Shanghai

By Edith Quintana

The horror of the holocaust was unfathomable. In Europe only a few Jews survived. To some, the dangers of the Nazi regime and their supporters was clear from the start. After November 9, 1938, an evening of anti-Jewish violence called “Kristallnacht,” Jews in Europe realized that what they thought was yet another wave of anti-Semitic rhetoric was actually an effort to annihilate them. It was time to leave, but getting out was not easy.

Documentary and Presentation
A Gift of Life
Sun, Aug 28, 5:30pm
Hotel Monteverde
Volanteros 2
152 1156 or 152 7311

This is the backdrop to one of the most exciting and interesting survival stories of the Second World War. Eighteen thousand Jews escaped Europe to settle in Shanghai, China, where they spent 10 years growing and sustaining a Jewish community, a community that represents the single largest group of Jews in one place to have survived the Nazi terror and extermination.

But it was Japan that was in charge of Shanghai at the time. The city was destroyed in the 1937 attack by the Japanese Imperial forces; and it was in this caldron of unrest and poverty that the Jews from Austria, Germany, and many Eastern European countries found refuge. Why go to China? How did they get there? How did they survive? Why did the Japanese let them stay and live? Where are they and their children today?

“A Gift of Life” is a short documentary originally created for a UCLA symposium on the “Shanghai Jews.” Delegations from the Chinese government joined hundreds of Jews including “Shanghailanders” to celebrate this amazing and unusual story of coexistence between European Jews, local Chinese, and the occupying Japanese forces.

On Sunday, August 28, this short 22-minute documentary will be shown at the Monteverde Hotel on Volanteros (becomes Quebrada) near the corner of Calzada de la Luz at 5:30pm. The film features photos obtained from the “Shanghai Ghetto” and interviews with survivors of this extraordinary chapter in both Jewish and Chinese history. The producer of the film and the curator of the original UCLA exhibit, George and Julie Kalmar, will be present for a short discussion and Q&A period. Refreshments will be served. Tickets can be purchased at Monteverde Hotel, Volanteros 2, 152 1156 or 152 7311 or at San Miguel de Allende Jewish Cultural and Community Center (JC3), Calle Moras 47, corner of 5 de Mayo, Col. Allende. Call 185 9191 or email


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