Gabriel Rabinovich


Gabriel Rabinovich c. 1940, Shanghai.

Gabriel “Gava” Rabinovich (1899–1962)

also: G. Rabinovitch

Гавриил Борисович РАБИНОВИЧ (1899–1962). Русский текст – внизу страницы


Born in Polotsk, in Vitebsk province, Russia, on 8 June, 1899; died in Tel Aviv, on March 16, 1962. Had wife Rosa (Rosetta) Isakovna; daughter Isa (Isabel Sharon), born on 18 November 1927; son Boris, born on 9 December 1931.

Rena Krasno, author of the memoir Strangers Always, was his niece; she passed his architectural drawings and photographs to the Hoover Archives. According to her memoir, Uncle Gava was well-educated, wrote plays, told great jokes and doted on his wife. "Gava, endowed with a large bulbous nose, regales all and sundry with hilarious, often bawdy, tales told in a wide range of accents – Georgian, Tartar, Yiddish, Chinese." (Strangers Always)

In 1927, as a "penniless architect" and already married, Rabinovich created his earliest known project – the conversion of a residential building on Ward Road into the new Ohel Moshe Synagogue. The rebuilding required the removal of the second floor and the addition of pillars to support the roof. A mezzanine was constructed so women could pray separately from men. (Rena Krasno, Russian Jews in Shanghai) The synagogue opened in October 1928.

In 1930–1931 Rabinovich joined E. Hazzard and E. S. J. Phillips at Elliott Hazzard, as Chief Architect. During that period, the company designed and constructed the office of Shanghai Power Co. on Nanking Road; Rabinovich supervised the project. During his time with Elliott Hazzard, the firm also designed Lieu Ong Kee Building, on Szechuen Road, and Brookside Apartments, on Avenue Haig.

In 1933–1935, he worked for the Republic Land Investment Co. 五和洋行, which was implementing a massive development scheme on North Szechuen Road and siting three multistory buildings there. The flagship of the project – the New Asia Hotel – was designed by the company's chief architect S. A. Sayer, with no involvement of Poy Gum Lee (in spite of common claims); Rabinovich designed the other two apartment buildings – the Bridge House and Derring Apartments – which opened on 15 January 1935. During the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, the Bridge House became the infamous military prison and its apartments were converted to cells.

Rabinovich designed Doumer Apartments, Koffman Apartments (for Mrs. Vera L. Koffman), and "several other small streamline moderne buildings in the French Concession". He was also the author of modernist apartments at 1274 Avenue Joffre and 27 Avenue Petain, which are still extant. Among the works that do not survive are the modernist residence on Route Magniny, a house on Route Paul Henry and (possibly) one Spanish-style and one modernist residence, both on Route de Sieyes.

Rabinovich was a board member of the Russian Jewish Club and a member of the Jewish Company of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. He acted as a secretary of the committee for the construction of the New Ashkenazi Synagogue, on Route Tenant de la Tour, designed by his colleague Emmanuel Gran. According to the testimony of his daughter Isabel, Rabinovich participated in all the activities of the Russian Artistic and Literary Circle and was a dedicated member of ORT (Society for the Encouragement of Handicrafts). He contributed to the welfare of the European Jewish refugees in Shanghai in the 1940s.

In 1949, the Rabinovich family moved to Israel. The architect’s final project was the design of the Synagogue and Communal Center for Yigud Yotsei Sin (the Jewish Communities of China), in Tel Aviv. Partially funded with the proceeds from the sale of the Gran-designed Ashkenazi Synagogue in Shanghai, it opened in September 1961. Rabinovich died of a heart disease at the age of 63.

Ohel Moshe Synagogue, Ward Road


Bridge House Apartments, North Szechuen Road


Derring Apartments, Tsungming Road


Residence, Hungjao Road


residence, route de Sieyes


Koffman Apartments, Route Ferguson


Apartments, Avenue Joffre

c. 1939

Apartments, Avenue Petain

c. 1940

Residence, Route Sieyes


residence, rue Paul henry


Doumer Apartments, route Doumer


Residence, Muirhead Road


Board members of the Shanghai Jewish Club. Gabriel (Gava) Rabinovich is in top row, second from right. His twin brother David is in the bottom row, extreme left. Rena Krasno, Strangers Always.
Gabriel (Gava) and Rosetta Rabinovich (right), next to his twin brother David and his wife (left). Rena Krasno, Strangers Always.

Ohel Moishe Synagogue (1928)

"Alteration of house No. 58 Ward Road into a Jewish Prayer House." Floor plans of the Ward Road synagogue. Rena Krasno papers, Hoover Institution.

Bridge House (1935)

Architect's drawing of the future Bridge House, August 1933. China Press
Sites of the New Asia Hotel and Apartments (A & B), Derring Apartments (C) and Bridge House (D). Builder 建筑月刊, 1934
Three projects of the Republic Land Investment. China Press, July 1935
Bridge House during construction, June 1934. China Press
Residents of the Bridge House Apartments in the courtyard, with the tennis courts behind. Moses Katz archive
Bridge House interiors showing results of the conversion to a prison, 1948. NCDN
Bridge House recently

Derring Apartments (1935)

Architect's drawing of the Derring Apartments, the facade on the corner of North Jiangxi Road and Chongming Road. Builder 建筑月刊, 1934
Typical floor plan of the Derring Apartments. Builder 建筑月刊, 1934
Northern facade of the Derring Apartments in 2008
Derring Apartments nowadays. Shine

Koffman Apartments (1935)

Architect's drawing of the Koffman Apartments, on Route Ferguson. Builder 建筑月刊, 1935
Sections and plans of the Koffman Apartments, on Route Ferguson. Builder 建筑月刊, 1935
Modern view of the Koffman Apartments, on Wukang Road 武康路, with an extra floor added. 上海徐汇

Doumer Apartments (1937–1941)

Doumer Apartments, architect's drawing; the year is cut off. Tess Johnston
Doumer Apartments. Rena Krasno Papers, Hoover Institution
Doumer Apartments, 43 Lane 56 Donghu Road 东湖路56弄43号. Images:
Doumer Apartments (left), in a company of three other Russian-designed buildings on Route Paul Henry, c. 1937. Naval History and Heritage Command
Design of a synagogue, built for Yigud Yotsei Sin (Jewish Communities of China) in Tel Aviv in September 1961. Rena Krasno Papers, Hoover Institution.

List of known works by Gabriel "Gava" Rabinovich

  • Ohel Moshe Synagogue, 62 Ward Road (1928), now 62 Changyang Road 长阳路62号

  • Bridge House Apartments, 85 North Szechuen Road (1934), now 85 North Sichuan Road 四川北路85号

  • Derring Apartments 德邻公寓, 82 Tsungming Road (1934), now 82 Chongming Road 崇明路82号 and 71 North Sichuan Road 四川北路71号

  • Residence, Hungjao Road (1934), today's Hongqiao Road 虹桥路 – location being confirmed

  • Residence in Spanish style, Route de Sieyes (1934), today's Yongjia Road 永嘉路 – location being confirmed

  • Residence in modernist style, Route de Sieyes (?), today's Yongjia Road 永嘉路 – location being confirmed

  • Koffman Apartments 国富门公寓, Route Ferguson (1935), now 230–232 Wukang Road 武康路230号, 232号

  • Apartments, 1274 Avenue Joffre (c.1939), now 1274 Middle Huaihai Road 淮海中路1274号

  • Apartments, 27 Avenue Petain (c.1940), now 27 Hengshan Road 衡山路27号

  • Koffman Apartments 国富门公寓, Route Ferguson (1935), now 230–232 Wukang Road 武康路230号, 232号

  • Doumer Apartments 杜美公寓, Route Doumer, built by A. V. Kooklin (1937–1941), now No. 43 Lane 56 Donghu Road 东湖路56弄43号

  • Residence, 21 Route Magniny (1947), now Kangping Road 康平路 – has not survived

  • Residence, Route Paul Henry (1940s), now Xinle Road 新乐路 – has not survived

Гавриил Борисович РАБИНОВИЧ (1899–1962) – нажмите, чтобы прочитать

Биография составляется.


  • Tess Johnston, Permanently Temporary: From Berlin to Shanghai in Half a Century (2010).

  • Tess Johnston, Shanghai Art Deco (2006).

  • Rena Krasno, Strangers Always: A Jewish Family in Wartime Shanghai (1992).

  • Rena Krasno, “History of Russian Jews in Shanghai,” in Malek, ed., Jews in China (2003).

  • Reno Krasno papers at Hoover Archives.