Ellis Jacob was born in 1931 in Shanghai, China, It was during his early and formative years of the 1930s that the world experienced the tumultuous events leading to World War II. During a period of only eight years, he lived under four separate governments in Shanghai, each with its own currency, police force and political ideology. He attended a mainly British elementary school and an American high school. During the war, when most school children were interned, Ellis spent a year attending the Shanghai Jewish School, one of only two English language schools open at the time. He experienced the occupation by the Japanese Imperial forces, bombing by American panes, wild inflation, liberation by Chinese and American troops, and then occupation by the People's Liberation Army in 1949. His experience in growing up in Shanghai led him to research the city's rich history, in order to present his memory in a historical perspective. Upon leaving Shanghai with his mother in 1949, he spent two and half years in Canada, and then emigrated to the United States at the height of the Korean War. After serving in the U.S. Army, with a stint in Korea, he attended the University of California in Berkeley, where he received a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation, he spent most of his career in the Bell System, with his first position in Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill and Holmdel, N.J. During this time he attended NYU and received an MEE degree. After leaving the Bell System in 1985, Ellis held positions in various technology oriented companies, and then turned to consulting within the field. In 1992, he became a financial planner until his retirement at the end of 2005.

Contact Ellis Jacob


61 South Fullerton Ave.
Monclair, NJ 07042

The Shanghai I Knew

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The Shanghai I Knew

A Foreign Native in Pre-Revolutionary Chaina
By Ellis Jacob

includes a 1930's street map of Shanghai
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The Shanghai I Knew

About the book

In The Shanghai I Knew, Ellis Jacob writes about his experience growing up in Shanghai in an historical perspective. He provides a brief history of Shanghai, traces his family back to Iraq in the 1800s and beyond, touches on Chinese customs and culture, describes Jewish religious observance and practice, and relates his experience in living in shanghai before, during and after World War II.

During his 18 years in Shanghai, Ellis lived under 4 distinct governments, each with its own ideology, police force and currency, during a tumultuous period of the 20th century.

While living under a strongly British dominated society and culture, he was brought up in a Sephardic Jewish family, and in constant contact with an ancient culture - Chinese. He experienced occupation by Japanese Imperial forces, bombing by American planes, wild inflation, liberation by Chinese Nationalist and American troops, and then occupation (or liberation) by the People's Liberation Army of the Chinese Communist Party. He lived under Communist rule for over 4 months and finally left for the Western Hemisphere in September, 1949. He was educated in a British elementary and middle school and in an American high school, and relates his experience in those environments

The book describes all the experiences listed above, as well as those of some of his relatives, schoolmates and friends. it provides a bibliography that assisted in the writing of the book, and for additional reading.

Speaking Engagements

Watchung Booksellers, Watchung Plaza, Montclair, NJ
Montclair Public Library, Montclair, NJ
Book Club, Edgewater, NJ
Book & Travel Club, Old Beth Page, NY
Skylands Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Hackettstown, NJ
Jewish Historical Society of Metrowest, Whippany, NJ
Men-At-Leisure, Jewish Community Center, (JCC) Whippany, NJ
Women-At-Leisure, JCC, Whippany, NJ
JCC, New Rochelle, NY
Yiddish Club, Monroe Township, NJ
Jewish Congregation of Concordia, Monroe Township, NJ
Lore Ross' Cafe Europa, Oheb Shalom Congregation, South Orange, NJ
Temple Sholom of West Essex, Cedar Grove, NJ
Temple Bnai Jeshurun, South Orange, NJ
Hadassah Women's Service Organization: West Orange Chapter, Montclair/Glen Ride Chapter

My Talks

Talk #1
Growing Up Jewish in Shanghai

This talk describes my experiences in Shanghai: growing up in a British-dominated environment, in an internationally governed city before World War II, then occupied by Japanese Imperial forces, bombing by American planes, inflation, rationing, liberation by Chinese and American troops, the Shanghai American School, then “liberation” once again by the People's Liberation Army, life under Communism, and finally leaving for the Western hemisphere. From 1941 to 1949, my family and I lived under 4 different governments, each with a different currency, different police force and different ideology.

Talk #2
Jews in America

This talk describes the contributions and influence of Jews and Judaism in America: It addresses when and where we came from, the first Jewish congregations, the impact of Hyam Solomon on the Revolutionary War and the early United States, Jewish influence during the Civil War, waves of Jewish immigration, influence on foreign policy, participation in sectors of the economy, effect on our daily lives, and Jewish contributions to America and to the world.

Talk #3
Frightening Incidents in My Life

This talk describes many frightening incidents I’ve experienced, starting when I was 6 years old and following through the aftermath of the cold war. I was suspected of being a terrorist when I arrived in Israel, caught between 2 antagonistic groups in Iran with no place to go, bombed by American planes, attacked by a Chinese youth simply because I was a foreigner, and accused of running over a little child, among other scary incidents.