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A Full Run of Israel’s Messenger, Shanghai: 1904-1941

A Full Run of Israel’s Messenger, Shanghai: 1904-1941

A Full Run of Israel’s Messenger, Shanghai: 1904-1941

Authenticity guarantee

What is guaranteed?

The only recorded full run of this important Jewish periodical from Shanghai; David S. Sassoon’s personal copy.

Jewish businessmen, many of them from Baghdad, Bombay, and Cairo, began arriving in Shanghai in the mid-nineteenth century with the establishment of a semi-autonomous British concession in the city as one of the terms concluding the First Opium War. Though small in size before the First World War, the Jewish community supported three synagogues and a number of educational and cultural organizations. One of these, the Shanghai Zionist Association (SZA), was cofounded in April 1903 by twenty-year-old Nissim Elias Benjamin Ezra (1883-1936), an immigrant from British India of Baghdadi descent. About a year later (April 22, 1904), Ezra began publishing Israel’s Messenger (Hebrew: Mevasser yisra’el) as the official English-language organ of the SZA (later, it would become the official mouthpiece of the Jewish National Fund Commission for China as well). The paper would continue to appear (with a hiatus from February 4, 1910 through October 27, 1918) until October 17, 1941, and Ezra would serve as editor-in-chief until his death.

Under Ezra’s editorship, Israel’s Messenger became one of China’s most sophisticated Jewish periodicals, with a circulation that reached as far as the United States. Initially published fortnightly, later monthly, the paper promoted Zionism while reporting on Chinese Jewish communal activities and current events.


David Solomon Sassoon (his distinctive handwriting on the pastedowns of various volumes)

Physical Description

28 volumes: Vols. 1-12 (1904-1925) (11 5/8 x 8 3/4 in.; 295 x 225 mm); Vols. 13-22 (1925-1935) (13 x 9 1/2 in.; 330 x 240 mm); Vols. 23-28 (1935-1941) (13 1/8 x 9 1/2 in.; 335 x 240 mm). Numerous issue covers printed on thick colored paper; with notes in pencil by David Solomon Sassoon on upper flyleaf and on little slips of paper inserted within the volumes; extremely occasional marginalia and underlining in pen or pencil. Some staining or fading at edges; intermittent foxing, especially in earlier issues; episodic creasing and dogearing; some pages, and at times full issues, loose; margins sometimes shaved, with minor losses of text; short tears in edges periodically throughout; sporadic tape repairs; Vol. 1: issue 11 looks and feels like an early photocopy; Vol. 2: issue of 29 December 1905 is missing pp. 13-14 but perhaps this is a printing error; Vol. 9: issue of 5 May 1922 is missing pp. 13-14, 23-24 but these seem to be replaced by extra copies of pp. 15-16, 21-22; Vol. 14: issue of 7 January 1927 is perhaps missing pp. 17-18. Cloth over board of various sizes; some bindings somewhat cracked and/or worn; gilt title, volume number, and year on spine of each volume.


Gao Bei, Shanghai Sanctuary: Chinese and Japanese Policy toward European Jewish Refugees during World War II (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Maruyama Naoki, “The Shanghai Zionist Association and the International Politics of East Asia Until 1936,” in Jonathan Goldstein (ed.), The Jews of China, vol. 1 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1999), 251-266.

Marcia Reynders Ristaino, Port of Last Resort: The Diaspora Communities of Shanghai (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001).

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