I’ve come across a diary written by Yenta Kleiman which chronicles the summer club activities of the Shanghai Jewish Youth Association (SJYA), a school and summer camp established by Horace Kadoorie for Jewish refugee children in 1937. I’ll be serialising Yenta’s diary entries on my blog over the next few days.
Thursday 14 July, 18:00: School – Chinese dinner, conjurer
The much looked forward to day at last dawned. I was rather anxious to guess what the skies proposed to do, and, as if in answer to my prayer, it turned out a fine day. All day long it was unendurably hot, but towards six o’ clock it cooled down considerably, and the 14th of July, a marked day in the history of France, was no less enthusiastically celebrated by the S.J.Y.A. as it was arduously commemorated by the French Nationals.
The children were given one surprise after another, until they were the personification of Ecstasy itself – so excited and eager they were. Some expected to have dinner in the School dining room, while others “I bet you anything it will be in the auditorium”, the latter almost sure they would collect their bets. Yet both parties were entirely wrong.
The roof garden was done up most gorgeously. – Tables laid for six, palm trees and plants, the delicious Chinese dinner, and conjuring entertainment, all helped to make the evening a perfect success.
Just before the dinner, the President, Mr. H. Kadoorie, gave an introductory speech, which was highly applauded by all present (over 160 people). As I walked home, I thought with exhilaration that this evening is the prelude of eleven more enjoyable ones to come.