I'm sorry for the blog silence--we still had another day in Shanghai with Mama and Papa! We've been having beautiful weather in Beijing (We're convinced M&P brought it with them from Phoenix because it's been warm since their arrival). Everything is in bloom, the sun has been shining, and the smog has only been slightly unhealthy most days. It's so refreshing after a long and cold winter. (Basically this means the last time you'll see me in that green jacket is in the pics below because we weren't so lucky with weather in Shanghai).
We had a relaxing morning at the hotel before setting off for the Shanghai Museum. M&P found a beautiful bamboo painting to bring home, and Adam and I can't wait to see it in their new house! Then we set off to look for the old synagogue. We stopped for lunch and turned out to be eating "where the workers eat" (Papa's words); a great decision, as they know what's tasty and hearty. We also enjoyed delicious Shanghai-style dumplings.
We knew the synagogue was on a particular block, but we had trouble finding the sign. We did, however, find a post that confirmed we were on the right street:
(Look on the bottom right side). After a bit more wandering, the beard and dress of this man gave it away, and we knew we had reached the synagogue.
It is now the home of the Garden Unit of the Shanghai Municipal Afforestation Commission. Who woulda thought??
We then looked for the Liza Hardoon Building, named for the mother of M&P's former client who became a close friend. He was born into a poor Jewish family in Harbin (home of the coldest ice festival on Earth) and then adopted by one of the wealthiest Jewish families of the day, the Hardoons of Shanghai. While the architecture is intact, it is now an ICBC, one of the biggest banks in China.
It's strange how there's so much history in these buildings that have been turned into ordinary property for everyday use. I remember feeling this way after a trip to Poland when I studied abroad in college; the old synagogues and other buildings that were the center of a lively community had become a mundane part of the local government. It makes sense because that community has moved on, but it was strange to feel this way for the first time since being in China. It's probably because Shanghai was so much more western than the rest of this country.
And thus ends the reflective portion of this post!
The Liza Hardoon Building/ICBC was near the Bund, so we walked along the river and took more pictures
before settling into a coffee shop to escape the cold and to relax before our evening flight.
When walking across a bridge to our hotel later that afternoon, we passed not one, not two, but THREE bridal photo shoots.
Just like the ones we often see in our neighborhood, these consisted of women in bridal gown with jeans underneath, men in ill-fitting tuxes, and photographers setting everything up. A timely reminder that while it looked and felt like Europe, Shanghai still Chinese at heart.
We were sad to come home and pack with M&P, but we all agreed that this was a fantastic, fantastic visit and we look forward to many more in Phoenix, NY, and wherever the next few years take us.