Around 20,000 Jewish refugees sought asylum in Shanghai during the Holocaust due to its open city policy.
Historical backdrop: In the late 1930s, refugees could migrate to Shanghai without obtaining a visa.
* The city was known for being open to immigrants, with a significant part controlled by foreign powers such as France, Britain, and the United States.
* Jewish people had been moving to Shanghai since the mid-1800s.
In the midst of crisis: Nearly 20,000 Jewish people found refuge in the city before and during World War II.
* The living conditions, however, became challenging when the Japanese army took control of the city and forced Jewish refugees into the Hongkou district.
* Crowded and unsanitary conditions led to widespread disease.
Remembering the past: The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, opened in 2007, commemorates this part of history.
* Currently, it has an exhibit in New York City showcasing stories, photographs, and other artifacts documenting life in the “Shanghai ghetto.”
* This free exhibit will run until Aug. 14.
Preserving the legacy: Descendants of the Shanghai refugees are working to keep this story alive for future generations.
* Sara Himas and her son Jerry, descendants of a Jewish refugee who stayed in Shanghai after World War II, live in the city.
* Jerry Himas is collaborating with the Shanghai museum to create a nonprofit named the Chinese-Jewish Cultural Connection Center, aimed at fostering connections among refugee families.
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