The Jewish Historical Society of Hong Kong (JHS) was founded in 1984, following a lecture by Mr. S.J. Chan at the former Jewish Club. The subject was “The Jewish Community in Kaifeng”, the 12th Century Song dynasty capital of China. Most members of the Community had not heard of the Kaifeng Jews and Mr. Chan challenged those in attendance to establish an association to collect and collate information on the Sino-Judaic experience in Hong Kong and China.
The initial aims of the JHS, an informal Society, were to establish a Judaica library for the HK Jewish community, within which would be housed the Sino-Judaic collection; to promote Sino-Judaic cooperation; and to thoroughly document the existing records of the Community and to publish on the subject. Over the years, the JHS has amassed a Sino-Judaic reference library which is believed to be the most comprehensive in Asia. It is a valuable resource which is available, by appointment, to both local and overseas scholars.
Books published by the JHS include monographs on the Hong Kong Jewish community by Denis and Mary Leventhal; “The Ohel Leah Synagogue, Hong Kong – Its History and Conservation” by McDougall & Pettman; and the revised reprint of S.J. Chan’s “The Jews of Kaifeng, Reflections On Sino-Judaic History”.
Projects recently undertaken by the JHS include:
- recording, photographing and translating the inscriptions on the 380 headstones in the HK Jewish cemetery
- organising an ongoing series of taped interviews of the personal experiences and family histories of members of the Jewish community
- mounting a number of exhibitions including “The Jews in Shanghai and Hong Kong – The Lost Records 1938-1950” and “Recalling Jewish Calcutta”
- hosting lectures on a variety of topics of Jewish and local historical interest
- organising group tours to visit historic Jewish communities in the region