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Heilongjiang PROVINCE,

Renovation of the Old (Main) Synagogue

The Old (Main) Synagogue of Harbin re-opened as a concert hall in the spring of 2014, following more than a year of extensive research, reconstruction and restoration. The Harbin Municipal Government invested close to 100 million Yuan RMB (16.7 million US Dollars) in the project, including funds spent to relocate residents from four nearby apartment buildings and to create a square in the center of the block. The synagogue and the former Jewish Secondary High School next door, plus two other buildings, now form the Harbin Music Center in the heart of historic Harbin.

The synagogue opened in 1909 as the first official Jewish house of worship in the city. It was burned to the ground by White Russian fascists in 1931 and rebuilt soon after. Both the interior and exterior of the synagogue have been returned to their 1931 appearance. The synagogue closed in 1963 and was used as a hospital, a hostel, a kindergarten, a social club and various other businesses over the years. Extensive reconstruction and restoration were required to bring the building back to the way it looked when it was used as a house of worship and a Jewish communal center.

The reconstructed building is dedicated to the memory of Abraham Kaufman, longtime president of the Harbin Jewish community, and his son Teddy Kaufman, who led the Israel-China Friendship Association and the Association of Former Residents of China until his death in 2012.

Photos Courtesy of Professor Dan Ben-Canaan, Heilongjiang University, School of Western Studies. Harbin, China
Copyright © 2014 Dan Ben-CanaanClick on any photo for a larger version.

Renovation 2a Photo.


Renovation 4a Photo.


Renovation 6a Photo.

 Exterior views of the renovated Old (Main) Synagogue in Harbin, now a concert hall and part of the Harbin Music Center

Stars of David adorn the door of the Ark (Aron Hakodesh) of the reconstructed Old Synagogue.
Professor Dan Ben-Canaan, chair of the Sino-Israel Research and Study Center at Heilongjiang University, points to a sign in Chinese, Russian and English identifying the building. Professor Ben-Canaan was appointed as a member of, and an adviser to the Reconstruction Project by the City Government of Harbin.

Renovation 10a Photo.


Renovation 8a Photo.

The Old Synagogue Concert Hall   The Moscow Glazunov String Quartet plays in the new concert hall, with the Harbin Mayor and his Deputies in attendance.

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