The New Synagogue of Harbin was originally built in 1918. Encompassing 2,400 square meters, and can accommodate up to 800 worshippers, the synagogue was the largest one in northeast China. It has not been used since Jewish people left the city in the 1950s. In 2004 it was restored as Harbin Jewish History and Culture Museum. Now the synagogue becomes part of the Harbin Architecture Art Museum.
Harbin once had the largest Jewish population in the Far East. In the late 10th and early 20th centuries, it was the largest political, economic and cultural center for Jewish people in the region. Completed in 1921, the synagogue was not only an important place of religious observance and community education for Harbin’s Jews, but was also a public library. The synagogue was closed after the city’s Jewish people left in the 1950s, only re-opened in the 1990s, when it was used as a club for the local Public Security Bureau, before being shut down again in 1996. The Harbin municipal government will shoulder part of the synagogue’s reconstruction costs and a foundation will be established to raise the remaining amount.
The synagogue became a Jewish Museum of History and Culture after an international symposium on the history and culture of Harbin’s Jews was held in Harbin from August 30 to September 2, 2004 organized by the Jewish Research Center of Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Science and the China-Israel Friendship Association. A large-scale exhibition called “Jews in Harbin” was held during the symposium to show relics left by Jewish people who had lived in the city. Many scholars of Jewish culture from home and abroad as well as Jewish people who had once lived in China came here for this event. Most of Harbin’s Jews had moved from Russia to build the Far East railway. The construction of a railway linking Vladivostok and Harbin attracted about 60,000 Jews to northeast China from Russia at the end of 19th century. Local Jews made great contributions to the development and prosperity of Harbin over the past century. Priceless Jewish architecture can be seen everywhere in Harbin, including synagogues, banks, schools and shops built in the early 20th century. Near the synagogue is a unique style Jewish middle school. Another example of Jewish-style architecture, the Harbin Huangshan Jewish Cemetery, located in the city’s suburbs, is the largest and the best-preserved cemetery in the Far East. It is the resting place for more than 500 Harbin Jews. In June 2004, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s deputy prime minister, paid respects to his grandfather, who is buried in the cemetery. This historical architecture is all on the city’s list of protected landmarks. Each year, many descendants of Harbin Jews from all over the world come back to look for their roots.
Address: 162 Jingwei Street, Daoli District
By Bus: 162, 21, 105, 112, 74
Opening Time: 8:30 – 16: 30; Mon – Sun