The Harbin Jewish Museum occupies a building with a history spanning just over a century, which started life as a synagogue. This original usage ceased when the Jews, who once formed the largest Jewish community in the Far East, left the city in the 1950s. It was used in the 1990s as a club for the local Public Security Bureau.
In 2004, following an international symposium on the history and culture of Harbin’s Jews, it was restored as Harbin Jewish History and Culture museum. During the first half of the 20th century Harbin was the largest political, economic and cultural centre for Jewish people in this part of the world, and Jews from around the world still visit to trace their ancestors here.
As well as the synagogue itself, Harbin is home to a Jewish middle school and the largest and best preserved Jewish cemetery in the Far East. Moving exhibits on historic Jewish life in Harbin, and a thoroughly Chinese display of “famous Jews” from Einstein to Freud, make this a fascinating place to while away an afternoon. A few books and postcards are also available to buy.
Harbin Jewish History and Culture Museum:
162 Jingwei Street,
Image Credit: Xuan Che, via flickr