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Growing up in Shanghai

Growing up in Shanghai

by Dan Moalem

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Dan Moalem, born in Shanghai in 1930, was raised in a conservative Sephardi family. His family’s life centred on the Synagogue, of which his father was Shamash, and on his school. In his early years, he was a very protected child, with an Amah watching his every move. Much of his childhood was spent immersed in his vast extended family, and many hours each week were taken up visiting and socialising with them.

Dan’s school life was active and productive, and he enjoyed the many activities that his school offered. He was a versatile all-rounder, excelling in his studies as well as in many sports. His exposure to the Chinese people, their lifestyles, beliefs, traditions and practices, considerably broadened his horizons. His vivid descriptions of life in Shanghai recapture a vanished time.

His education was interrupted when the Japanese invaded China. The family, as British subjects, were interned at Lunghwa Camp, from 1942-45. At War’s end, Dan embarked on an intensive study program in order to catch up with his education. He became School Captain, and at the end of 1947 sat for the Senior Cambridge examinations. He passed brilliantly. Then he studied Engineering at Aurora University in Shanghai — in French. During his time there, Communist forces captured Shanghai, and he was part of the celebrations when the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in October 1949. Dan completed his studies under the new regime. In late 1950, he migrated with his family to Sydney, Australia.

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