New Ashkenazi Synagogue

102 Route Tenant de la Tour, corner Route Vallon // 102 South Xiangyang Road, corner Nanchang Road // 襄阳南路102号近南昌路

Skeleton of the building in November 1940. US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Architect: Emmanuel Gran

Also called the New Ohel Moshe Synagogue 新会堂.

Built in 1937–1941.

The lot for the new Ashkenazi Synagogue, amounting to 1.2 mu, was purchased in 1936. By the end of the year, the Russian architect Emmanuel Gran designed the building (waiving his fees) and published the drawings. The synagogue was described as "extremely modern and simple in style," but "the severe modern lines of the interior will be broken and softened effectively by an imposing altar designed in the ancient Hebrew style." The architect also included "a hidden choir," the first of its kind in a Shanghai synagogue: "The voices of the young choristers will be clearly heard, but they will not be visible to the members of the congregation." The seating for men was on the ground floor, and for women it was on the balcony.

The synagogue was intended for the use of the Russian Jews, numbering over 4,000 people, who contributed funds and construction materials. The cost of the construction was estimated at 175,000 taels. The plan to finish the building by September 1937 was not realized due to the beginning of the Japanese hostilities, but the work on the foundation was "well along the way." The laying of the cornerstone was delayed until 24 November 1940; by that time "the skeletons of three of synagogue's stories have been completed." The Japanese marine commander Captain Inuzuka Koreshige 犬塚惟重, who sympathized with the Jews, ensured the uninterrupted supply of cement for the construction. The chandelier for the new synagogue – 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide – was hand-made by a family of artisans, Isaac (son) and Solomon Miller (father), who were working from their garage in Wayside. 

When the building was nearly completed, on 6 April 1941 its opening was celebrated by a mass wedding of twelve couples. The services in the New Synagogue continued after the establishment of the PRC, until 1956, when the interior was irreversibly damaged in a fire. Then the building served as the auditorium of the Shanghai College of Education 上海教育学院 until 1987. It was subsequently reconstructed and enlarged, and now only the footprint and the original buttressed walls remain.

Project of the New Ashkenazi Synagogue, proposed by Davies, Brooke and Gran in December 1936
Drawing of the interior of the New Ashkenazi Synagogue. Shanghai Sunday Times, 12 Dec 1937
The Ashkenazi Synagogue, by Davies, Brooke and Gran. Israel’s Messenger, April 1941.
Program for the stone laying ceremony of the Ashkenazi Synagogue, on 24 November 1940. US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Laying of the cornerstone, 24 November 1940. US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Laying of the cornerstone, 24 November 1940. US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Laying of the cornerstone, 24 November 1940. US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Isaac and Solomon Miller pose with the chandelier they made for the new synagogue. China Press, March 27, 1940
At the opening of the New Synagogue, 6 April 1941. China Press
Ashkenazi Synagogue. Shanghai Times, June 1942.
Announcement of the Rosh Hashanah services in the New Ohel Moshe Synagogue, in September 1953.
Former synagogue in 1986. Phyllis Horal
Today's view of the building at 102 South Xuangyang Road 襄阳南路102号. Baidu