Maurice Ohana unwraps the boxes in the FedEx parcel which has arrived in his Shanghai office. They contain moulds from the mouths of Parisians who went to their dentist a day earlier for a fitting of false teeth. 'We send them to a factory in Shanghai, where workers will craft their new teeth, and send them back by FedEx to Paris. The patients will collect them in two days' time and never know they were made in China,' he said. False teeth are one of hundreds of products sold by Longfield Shanghai, a member of the Smerwick group and the biggest Jewish-owned trading company in China. Mr Ohana is in the vanguard of the third wave of Jewish migrants into Shanghai, who numbered less than 100 in 1999 but have since grown to about 1,500, many of them in trading firms that handle between US$3 billion and US$4 billion worth of Chinese exports a year. Others work in multinational companies. 'In the future, we see up to 5,000 Jewish people here, with our own school, and perhaps we can secure the return of the major synagogue which our community used before 1949,' he said. 'We are talking about this with the city government.' The Jews played a major role in Shanghai after it became a treaty port in 1842 and the international settlement was established in 1863. The first wave, which lasted from the second half of the 19th century to the first world war, began with a group of 700 Jews from Baghdad, who came via India, led by the Sassoon family. Russian Jews came, first in 1895-1904, then fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution and finally from Manchuria during the Japanese occupation. By the end of the 1930s, there were more than 4,000 Russian Jews in Shanghai. Shanghai had seven synagogues, of which two survive - Ohel Rachel and Ohel Moshe. The second wave was more than 20,000 jews fleeing Nazi persecution who took refuge in Shanghai, one of the few cities in the world requiring no visa or travel document. After the creation of Israel in 1948, most left Shanghai for their new homeland, the United States, Australia and other countries. The wealthiest Jewish families, including the Sassoons and the Kadoories, were most active in trading, banking and real estate and have left their mark on the city in many landmark buildings, such as the Peace Hotel, the Metropole Hotel, Grosvenor House and the Youth Centre that used to be the home of the Kadoorie family. The centre of Jewish life now is an 800-square-metre villa which the community bought in 2002 in the Hongqiao district, where it holds a weekly dinner on Fridays, for 100 to 150 people, religious services and meetings. In 1999, an Orthodox rabbi named Shalom Greenberg arrived from the Chabad-Lubavitch community of New York. They are hoping to move back to the Ohel Rachel, an imposing structure in a downtown street completed in 1920 and able to hold 700. After 1949, it was taken over by the city's education bureau but now stands empty. The city spent US$600,000 to restore it and in 1999 allowed the community to hold a service there for the Rosh Hashana festival, the first such service for more than 50 years. Services have since been held there on special days. The community is patiently lobbying the city to get the building back, arguing that as theirs is not a missionary religion, it will have no impact on the Chinese community. But the government is nervous about setting a precedent, in returning what were formerly religious buildings. Mr Ohana, who had sold the property he owned in France, said that what attracted Jews to China was the economic growth, the sense of dynamism, feeling of personal safety and lack of anti-Semitism. 'There is no example in history of economic progress like that made in China in the past 20 years,' he said. 'Europe is in decline. Every Jewish person I have met liked China at once - there is the same desire to succeed. We share with Chinese the sense of family values, the love of children and the desire to do the best for them and the drive to keep our culture alive abroad.' Because of rising anti-Semitism, many French Jews were emigrating, to Canada, the US and Israel, he said. 'There are police at the doors of schools 24 hours a day. If democracy is not limited, it can become anarchy. Here, my son comes home at three in the morning and I do not worry. My children have never complained of a security problem. 'Anti-Semitism is not in the culture of the Chinese. They respect us and we respect them. They are very interested in our history and how we have survived in the world,' Mr Ohana said. In China, the leading scholar on Judaism is Pan Guang, a professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. 'China never experienced anti-Semitism due to its Buddhist and Confucianist background,' he said. 'My students cannot believe why the Holocaust happened in Europe. It is difficult for me to explain. I have to trace back history from the Bible to today to explain the answers to their questions.' The Jewish return to Shanghai is also a result of the warming in diplomatic relations between China and Israel that were only established in 1992. Until the end of the 1980s, Beijing allied itself closely with the Arab world and regularly denounced the behaviour of the Israeli security forces. It portrayed Israel as a pawn of the 'imperialist' US. But, since 1990, Beijing's foreign policy has become increasingly pragmatic and neutral. It sees in Israel and the Jews an important source of expertise, technology, capital and potential political support. Dozens of Israeli companies, especially in hi-tech, clothing and agricultural equipment, have invested on the mainland, while hundreds of Chinese delegations have gone to Israel to study its hi-tech and agriculture sectors, especially in the southern desert areas. Thousands of Chinese have gone to work on Israeli farms and building sites. China has become Israel's largest trading partner in Asia, with bilateral trade last year worth US$2.99 billion. On a personal level, Chinese admire Jews for their competence, discipline and success, in finance, music, medicine, science and other fields. 'As a Jew, I understand the terrible suffering that the Chinese have endured,' said Mr Ohana. 'When Jews arrived here in the second world war from the camps in Europe, they found people who were even sadder and less fortunate than they were, people whose lives had no value.' His three children, who all speak Putonghua, plan to make their lives and careers in China. His two daughters work in the family business and his son is studying a business degree at Shanghai University. 'When we make a Jewish school, it will be both Jewish and Chinese, with classes in Putonghua and Chinese history. When you go to the American or French schools here, you leave China. You learn American or French history. Ours will be different.'