‘last Jew in China’

Canada’s stormy petrel Morton Shulman, physician, crusading coroner, militant member of the legislature, television host and millionaire, has discovered “the last Jew in China.” Among Dr. Shulman’s numerous activities is contributing a column several times a week to the Toronto Sun, a morning tabloid-sized newspaper. In a recent column headed “The Last Jew in China,” he recalls his visit to China in 1958 when there was still a tiny community of 85 surviving Jews in Shanghai, most of them due to leave. The leader of this remnant of a community was a 60-year-old “stocky, muscular and bright-eyed Russian-born physician” named P. Yudalevich.

Last month, Shulman was again in Shanghai and asked to be taken to the old Jewish community center. Though he was told “the Jews had all gone” as he expected they would, he decided to pay the visit if only to satisfy his curiosity. (In 1972 the late Premier Chou En-Lai had stated “the Jews have all gone”.

He found the old community center was now a Chinese public school. The garden was now largely occupied by a warren of tiny rooms fully occupied by Chinese. On asking if any Jews were there he was told laughingly “All gone long ago.” But when he asked about Dr. Yudalevich, an elderly Chinese pushed through to him calling out “That is my master.” To his amazement the man said Dr. Yudalevich was still alive and in Shanghai and then he asked Shulman: “You Jewish doctor? You came here many years ago!” It was Lee Yue Shul whom Dr. Shulman recalled as Dr. Yudalevich’s faithful servant.

Dr. Shulman was told that about 12 elderly Jews had remained in Shanghai but they had died and Dr. Yudalevich was the only one now left. He also said that he (Lee) was now 67 years old and had worked for Dr. Yudalevich since he was 14. “I shall look after him till he dies.”

He found Dr. Yudalevich on the second floor of an old house with an elderly Chinese woman, his friend for the past 40 years. Yudalevich, now 88, had become terribly old and shrunken, one side had been shrivelled by a stroke but his mind was still acute. He greeted the Canadian physician with “I remember you.” Shulman writes that they both “broke down and cried.” (By Ben Kayfetz)

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