Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Chinese Jews Return to Israel


The first Jews arrived in Kaifeng, one of the capitals of imperial China, over a thousand years ago, when Jewish merchants from Persia settled in the area.

At its height, in the Middle Ages, Kaifeng’s Jewish community numbered as many as 5,000 people, with rabbis, synagogues and various communal institutions.

But assimilation eventually began to take its toll. The last rabbi of Kaifeng died two centuries ago, and by the middle of the 19th century, the community was forced to sell the synagogue, Torah scrolls and its other remaining assets.

Until today, however, there are between 500 and 1,000 identifiable descendants of the Jewish community, and in recent years an awakening has been taking place among them, as increasing numbers of young Kaifeng Jews seek to reclaim their heritage.

In October 2009, seven young men making aliyah were interviewed at Ben Gurion airport together with three of their friends who made aliyah four years earlier. These descendants of the Kaifeng Jewish community were helped in finding their new home in Israel by Shavei Yisrael, an organization that strives to extend a helping hand to all members of the extended Jewish family and to all who seek to rediscover or renew their link with the people of Israel.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)


(A tip of the kippah to Sheila Zucker for sharing this video with us)

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