The Kadoorie Family: A Rich British-Jewish Dynasty
The Kadoorie family, known as "خضوري" in Arabic, is a wealthy British family originally hailing from the Middle East, specifically Baghdad. Since the mid-18th century, they have established themselves in Bombay (now Mumbai) and become one of Asia's affluent families. In the mid-19th century, their business ventures centered on Shanghai, and from 1949 onwards, they have been active in Hong Kong.
In 1842, the Kadoorie family initiated their business endeavors in Hong Kong, alongside the Sassoon family, engaging in various businesses and hotel ownership. Both families maintained a policy of employing Jewish workers and managers, primarily of Baghdadi origin, to assist the influx of Jewish immigrants and promote their economic integration.
Due to their economic dominance and extensive philanthropic activities, they earned the moniker "Rothschilds of the East." The family contributed to the Jewish community in Hong Kong and to non-Jewish institutions worldwide.
In Israel, their contributions included the establishment of the Kadoorie Agricultural School and donations towards the foundation of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
In 1882, the Jewish community in Hong Kong numbered only 60 individuals. In 1902, the Sassoon family donated the "Ohel Leah" Synagogue, and in 1905, the Kadoorie family donated the Jewish Community Centre, constructed adjacent to the synagogue.
The family's actions aided thousands of Jewish refugees during World War II, until the younger brother, Elly Kadoorie, was arrested by the Japanese, and his assets were confiscated. During the war, Japan occupied the city, and numerous Jews were interned in camps.
While the synagogue was not seriously damaged, the Jewish Community Centre was destroyed. In 1949, it was rebuilt with funding from the Kadoorie family.
After the war, thousands of Jews arrived in Hong Kong, some from China and others as a stepping stone to Australia, the United States, and Israel.
As of the early 21st century, the Jewish community in Hong Kong numbered around 4,000 individuals.
Prominent Members of the Kadoorie Family:
Rosa Kadoorie was married to the American adventurer H. F. du Pont.
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