Harbin, Largest Jew Inhabited City in Far East

Harbin, capital of this northeast China's Helongjiang Province, served as the largest Jew inhabited city in the Far East in modern times.

Researchers with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have discovered a lot of ruins of and historical data on Jewish people in Harbin, which served as the largest Jewish political, economic and cultural center in the Far East.

Most of Jewish people in Harbin were Russian Jewish residents immigrating to Harbin to build the Far East railway. "From 1894 when the first Jew immigrating to Harbin to1985 when the last Jew died here, they lived in Harbin for 91 years, with the population peaking at 25,000," said Zhang Tiejiang, researcher of the Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

The Jewish people established banks, libraries, schools, hospitals, churches and many industrial and trade enterprises engaging in mining, animal husbandry and dairy processing. Through associations and journals they contacted their fellow people in the rest of the world.

Harbin became an asylum for Jewish people in the 19th century and the local residents willingly protected their heritage. After World War Two, large numbers of Jews moved overseas and now they primarily live in Israel, the US, Australia and European countries.

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