Five young Chinese Jewish women from Kaifeng arrived in Israel this week to begin their new lives in Israel. The four women are among the one thousand or so traceable descendants of China’s ancient Jewish community in Kaifeng. The women have limited Hebrew—there are no synagogues in Kaifeng.
To become Israeli citizens, the women will spend a year studying Hebrew and Judaism before undergoing a formal conversion. They must formally convert because of the lack of recorded evidence of their Jewish past.
The women are sponsored by Shavei Israel, an organization that helps otherwise “forgotten” Jews immigrate to Israel. The organization will pay the women’s living expenses and support them as they prepare for their formal conversation. The women will receive Israeli citizenship after their conversion.
Shavei Israel founder Michael Freund said that the women are the first group of Chinese Jews the organization has sponsored in seven years. “The descendants of the Kaifeng Jews are a living link between the Jewish and Chinese people,” said Freund.
“After centuries of assimilation, more and more Jews from Kaifeng are beginning to want to return to their roots and embrace their Jewish identity,” he said.
In 2009, Shavei Israel supported seven Chinese Jews from Kaifeng immigrate to Israel. In all, the organization has helped 19 Kaifeng Jews.
The Jewish community in Kaifeng was strongest in the Ming Dynasty. In that period, there were possibly up to 5,000 Jews living in the city. The Jewish community in Kaifeng was founded by Jewish merchants from Iraq or Persia in the eighth and ninth century. Today, there are about 500 to 1000 Chinese Jews in Kaifeng that still observe Jewish customs in some form.
Warning：The use of any news and articles published on eChinacities.com without written permission from eChinacities.com constitutes copyright infringement, and legal action can be taken.
Keywords: Kaifeng China Kaifeng Jews Chinese Jews
All comments are subject to moderation by eChinacities.com staff. Because we wish to encourage healthy and productive dialogue we ask that all comments remain polite, free of profanity or name calling, and relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion. Comments will not be deleted because of the viewpoints they express, only if the mode of expression itself is inappropriate.
Please login to add a comment. Click here to login immediately.
I think it's already proved that this place is full of nasty bigoted racists. It's just that they try to justify it when it's about the Chinese. As soon as they start talking the same sort of crap about Jews, it becomes a lot more obvious what they really are like.
Mar 07, 2016 14:29 Report Abuse