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Rosh Hashana Services at Ohel Rachel Synagogue

From Points East, a publication of the Sino-Judaic Institute, California
28 November, 2013

Jeffrey Bernstein is General Manager of Ever Reach Logistics in Shanghai, China. He informed us that two Rosh Hashanah services were held this year at the Ohel Rachel Synagogue, one in the morning and one in the evening. Lubavitch rabbis officiated. Men, women and children attended. A meal followed Friday services. The Shanghai community Torah was kept in the Ark throughout Rosh Hashanah Shabbat. It is important to point out that the Ohel Rachel Synagogue was opened only for Rosh Hashanah. After that it was closed to the public. Other services and Yom Kippur prayers took place in a hotel. Mr. Bernstein described the Shanghai Rosh Hashanah celebration in an e-mail to his parents who live in California. They kindly agreed to share its contents with our readers.

"Happy New Year to you from the other side of the world. We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year, filled with many momentous ''firsts''."

We started with a first in Shanghai. The Ohel Rachel Synagogue (one of Shanghai''s 7 original synagogues) was opened to the Jewish community for Rosh Hashanah services. This is the first time since 1949 that Shanghai Jews could celebrate the High Holidays in their own house of worship.

As we walked past the ivy covered walls of the building that had not been used as a Synagogue for the past 50 years, the strong symbolism of the moment struck us. Although the outside walls were darkened by layers of soot, the inside was bright and clean, displaying its old grandeur for the Holy Days. We are grateful that the Shanghai City''s Bureau of Education, who occupied the building, had respected its original architecture and carefully preserved the original state of its interior.

It was exciting to be part of this important day. We felt we were experiencing history in the making."