Beat this: Yiddish and Hebrew songs in a Beijing public park

Beat this: Yiddish and Hebrew songs in a Beijing public park


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2014

The songs are Tumbalalaika (Yiddish) and Oseh Shalom (Hebrew) and they are being improvised in a mixed chorus earlier this month by a group of retired Red Guards and a party of Israeli tourists. Go figure.



  • Nick says:

    Not as unusual as you might think! Following the Russian Revolution there was a surge of Jewish immigration to China, most settling in Harbin or Shanghai. Shanghai built the Ohel Moshe Synagogue in 1927 (later to become the city’s Jewish Museum) and even today signs for the main streets in Harbin are in three languages – Chinese, Russian and English!

    Perhaps not generally known is that immediately prior to World War 2, Shanghai opened its doors to European Jewish refugees. It welcomed more than 20,000, more than Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and South Africa put together. Many returned to Shanghai in 1986 to present a plaque to the city. In October 1993 Yitzhak Rabin visited the Museum. He wrote in the guest book: “The Jewish People were protected by Shanghai People when they were murdered and driven out by Nazis and wandered in the world. The Israeli Government, Jewish People and I thank them for their help from the bottom of our heart.”

    Amongst those who took refuge in Shanghai were the young Mike Blumenthal, later to become President Cater’s Treasury Secretary.