Oral History

Moses Zupnik describes facilities for the Mir Yeshiva in Shanghai

Moses was 16 years old when the Nazis came to power in January 1933. He attended the Mir Yeshiva, a Jewish religious school based in Mir, Poland. German forces invaded Poland in September 1939. The Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland less than three weeks later. Mir was in Soviet-occupied Poland. Moses and the entire Mir Yeshiva moved to Vilna, Lithuania, so they could continue their studies without Soviet interference. When the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania in 1940, leaders of the yeshiva decided they and the students should leave Lithuania. Moses obtained from the Japanese consul in Lithuania the 300 transit visas required for the yeshiva students to leave. The yeshiva reassembled in Japan but Moses and the other students were unable to obtain valid visas for further emigration. In the fall of 1941, Japanese authorities forced Moses and the rest of the Mir Yeshiva to move to Shanghai in Japanese-occupied China. They remained in Shanghai throughout the war years. After the war, Moses immigrated to the United States, settled in New York City, and became a rabbi.

Transcript

So when we called to Shanghai that we have to come there, in 1940, that the...the Rabbi Ashkenazi went to Abrahams, he was leader of the Sephardic [community], "where will I get to put 300 people?" "Here, you got the synagogue, use it as you wish." So the...at the beginning--it was a very large synagogue--at the beginning we slept in the corridors and there was a dining room and there was a study hall and there were other rooms. There was even a mikvah, a ritual bath there. And the mi...we...we got it for free. And for first couple years that was our main lodg...main...main study hall and everything normal like in a...we studied there.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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