Our Chavayah students are about to depart China for Israel. Below are a few excerpts of their experiences whilst in China:
Our first stop was the Propaganda Postern Museum. Hidden in the basement of an apartment block, the museum displays over 6000 various pieces of Chinese propaganda from the initial stages of the People’s Republic of China until the Cultural Revolution. Luckily for us, we had the privilege of speaking to the founder of the museum. Contrary to what we believed, the Chinese government actually knows about the museum, and funds them with over 150 000 yuan a year.
Arriving at the luggage factory, our initial perceptions were immediately changed. The building gave us the impression of an army base from the outside and a worn-down warehouse in the inside. The tour really opened our eyes to the conditions of the workspace. Consisting of rows of female sewers in some areas and men handling scrappy machinery in others, the poor working conditions were exposed. Whilst this shocked us, our thoughts were further challenged after being told that these workers were treated relatively well, having a monthly salary of 8000 renminbi (~1600 AUD) and sick leave.
Our afternoon was filled with a Jewish tour around Shanghai, which taught us about the long history of Judaism in the country. We learnt of the three groups of Jewish immigrants that came to Shanghai, focussing on the Jewish refugees that fled the Nazi regime. With Shanghai’s open borders many Jews took refuge here and we were able to visit ‘Shanghai’s ghetto,’ a neighbourhood where stateless Jews were required to live. However, unlike Nazi ghettos the neighbourhood was not fenced and Jews who migrated to Shanghai and were not stateless did not have to reside. We also visited the Shanghai Jewish Refuge Museum where we were provided with a platform to expand our growing knowledge on the lives of those who fled to Shanghai during the Holocaust.
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