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Number of Jews in Communist China Decreasing Rapidly, Report Shows

Within one year the Jewish community in Communist China has decreased by about 25 percent, according to a report here today by the World Jewish Congress. One community organization, in Tientsin, has ceased to function, although a small number of Jews still remain in that city, the report said.

Information from the Council of the Jewish Community in Shanghai puts the total number of Jews in China registered with the Council at 294 as of June 30, 1958. Exactly one year ago the total was 397. The new report states that there are 84 Jews in Shanghai, 32 in Tientsin and 178 in Harbin. Comparative 1957 figures for these three centers were: 109, 55 and 229. Last year four Jews were listed as living in Dalny and Mukden. There is no reference to these towns in the 1958 survey.

In Tientsin, which once had a Jewish population of 2, 000, the local Hebrew Association has ceased to function after more than 50 years of activity. The gradual diminution of the community made the liquidation of the Association necessary and steps in this direction were initiated late in 1957. The furniture, fixtures and other items belonging to the Association were sold by public auction, and the civil authorities were notified of the Association’s intention to close. The one remaining Sefer Torah was transferred to Israel, and in January of this year, the Tientsin community’s central body was totally liquidated.

The welfare of those Jews remaining in Tientsin is now the responsibility of the Shanghai Jewish Council. This body finds itself increasingly concerned with the plight of its own dwindling community, almost 25 percent of whom have to be supplied with free meals. A shelter house and a camp provide accommodation for about 20 needy members of the community. More than 50 percent of the Jews of Shanghai receive medical care at the expense of the Council.

Very recently the Chinese authorities informed the Jewish Council in Shanghai that no further burials should be made in any of the existing four Jewish cemeteries. This was followed by allocation to the Council of a separate plot in the public cemetery and by a request that the Wei Ming Lu Cemetery, established in 1917, and the Hwang pe Lu Cemetery, established in 1862, be removed to new sites outside the city. Between them the two cemeteries house 2,000 graves.

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