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Oct 27, 2020

Documentary Film Tells the Story of the Jews of Shanghai

Harbor Holocaust

As incidents of anti-Semitism continue to rise and new studies document a growing lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, Federation’s work educating our community is more important than ever. With this in mind, next month’s Kristallnacht commemoration will include a special broadcast in partnership with South Florida PBS of Harbor from the Holocaust, a little-known story of 20,000 Jewish refugees who fled Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II to the Chinese port city of Shanghai. The documentary, which will air on Monday, November 9 at 9 p.m. on WPBT-Channel 2, brings together personal recollections, interviews, archival footage and music to tell the moving story of a group of people who were given a second chance. It is an account of tolerance, kinship and resilience.

Federation President & CEO Jacob Solomon has a special interest in the story of the Shanghai Jews. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in East Asian studies and spent time in China in the early 70s. Yet it wasn’t until a trip to China five years ago that he truly appreciated the Shanghai Jews’ significance. “When I went back with fellow Jews and saw the ghetto where the refugees lived through the war, I recognized the relevance of our Jewish communal experience,” he said. It is no surprise that Federation overseas partner the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) was instrumental in helping the Shanghai Jews survive. “There is a thread of connection and continuity,” Solomon continued. “The global infrastructure that Jewish people have created is unique and seeing it operate 75 years ago, just as it does today, was enormously powerful.” These themes are relevant to today’s challenges. “When we heard about the film from good friends of Federation and learned more about the narrative, it became clear that a partnership with South Florida PBS would be a great way to educate the community about the values and history that are important to our security and future well-being,” Solomon said. “For Jews and non-Jews alike, the story provides timeless lessons and helps us understand the dangers of ignorance and unchecked hatred.”

For more information about other programs commemorating Kristallnacht, click here. To learn more about the upcoming events for Holocaust Education Week on November 9-13, click here.

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