Every once in a blue moon the local government is kind enough to open the doors of the Ohel Rachel synagogue and let Shanghai’s ever-growing (or, more accurately, re-emerging) Jewish community celebrate their holidays in a proper temple. Tomorrow Shanghai residents will once again have the chance to step inside the more elegant of the city’s two remaining synagogues and celebrate the Purim holiday. Although more commonly associated with dressing up in silly costumes and eating hamentashen, tomorrow’s festivities will include a traditional Moroccan meal, perhaps in honor of Ohel Rachel’s Sephardic heritage.
The first Jewish synagogue in Shanghai, Ohel Rachel was built in 1920 under the auspices of Sir Jacob Sassoon from the legendary Iraqi Jewish family of business moguls/opium traders/real estate tycoons. He built the temple in order to honor his wife Rachel’s memory, but failed to live long enough to see its completion. Following the foundation of the PRC, the temple was quickly abandoned and served as a government storage facility for a number of years. In 1998 the temple was spruced up for a visit by then first lady Hillary Clinton. In the time since, the temple is usually open for three holidays a year, but the government has for largely unknown reasons yet to allow regular services to be held here.
For more information about the dinner and other Purim related events click here.
For further reading on Ohel Rachel Synagogue click here or here.
Ohel Rachel Synagogue
500 North Sha’anxi Road 陕西北路500号
Dinner at 6:30, 100RMB per person