Their Story Matters with Sara Troy and her guest Ester Benjamin Shifren, on air from March 7th
Hiding in a Cave of Trunks: A Prominent Jewish Family’s Century in Shanghai and Internment in a WWII POW camp. Against an impressive historical background, China-born Ester Benjamin Shifren relates the saga of her family’s century-long existence in Shanghai, the city often referred to as “The Paris of the East,” and details the culture and tribulations of the colorful multi-ethnic population. In the early1840s a vessel brought the Benjamins from India to Shanghai, where they prospered for five generations. Some members of the family achieved high-level diplomatic positions. Owners of prize-winning horses, the family even conducted business at the race- track, sometimes on a handshake! World War II abruptly terminated their privileged lifestyle. In 1943, the Japanese interned the Benjamins for three years in a POW camp. Along with other internees, they endured great hardship and loss of all worldly possessions. In 1948, shortly before the Communist takeover, the Benjamins relocated to Hong Kong, where the ensuing Korean War embargo eventually caused their irreparable financial collapse. In 1951 the family immigrated to Israel. Ester served two years in the army, married a South African in 1957, and spent thirty-six years in South Africa. After spending five years in Canada Ester immigrated to the USA in 1997 and now lives in Los Angeles, California. Ester Benjamin Shifren is an author, artist, musician, and dynamic international speaker. In 2005, in England, she was featured in the BBC1 program “We’ll Meet Again,” and was a guest lecturer for several days at the Imperial War Museum.
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