Anyone interested in viewing Xu Xin’s Coursera course in Jewish Diaspora
in Modern China should visit
I have signed up and am fascinated.
Following are descriptions of the 8 modules:
This course, “Jewish Diaspora in Modern China,” will give you an
understanding of the major issues related to the history of Jews in China
in Modern times.
2. Background: Jews and China
In this module, we will introduce pre-modern Chinese society, wars with
Western Powers, and the Open Door Policy. We will also analyze major
causes that brought Jews to China. In particular, we will focus on waves
of migrating Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews to China, which mark the
beginning of the history of the Jewish diaspora in modern China.
3. The Jewish Community in Shanghai
In this module, we will study four Jewish communities established in
Shanghai from the second half of the 19th century to the mid-20th century,
with a special focus on the Sephardic Jews and European Jewish refugees.
4. The Jewish Community in Harbin
In this module, we will discuss Harbin as a newly established modern
Chinese city. We will explore the Jewish communal life in the city from
its leadership, various Zionist organizations, business, observance, and
relations with adjacent Jewish communities in the region and in the
5. The Jewish Community in Tianjin
In this module, we will focus on the Jewish communal life in the port city
of Tianjin, tracing its beginnings, development, and decline. We will also
introduce some well-known Jewish individuals living in the city.
6. The Jewish Community in Hong Kong
In this module, we will explore the special status of Hong Kong as a
center of Jewish life in China. We will trace the ups and downs of Jewish
life in the city and the unique roles the Hong Kong Jewish Community
played in the city– the only Jewish community with a sustained,
uninterrupted history in China over the past 160 years.
7. Departure and Contributions
In this module, we will analyze the factors that spurred the departure of
about 40,000 Jews from China. We will also discuss their contributions–
economic and cultural– on Chinese society today.
8. History Renewed and Impact
In this module, we will describe the re-establishment of Jewish
communities in contemporary Chinese society, especially in Beijing and
Shanghai, following the adoption of China’s open-door policies and
economic reforms in the 1980s. We will also discuss the impact of the
re-establishment of Jewish communities on Chinese academia.
Thanks to Frank Lemco for sending a link to
Fascinating facts about Jews and China written this month by Yvette Alt Miller in Aish.com
While many of you will be familiar with much information, there are some unique tidbits. For example:
China is gaining an increasingly prominent role in kosher food production, too. It is now the world’s fast-growing producer of kosher food, with over 500 factories manufacturing kosher items. Star-K, a kosher certifier, reports that “China is fast becoming the frontrunner in all aspects of kosher food production” as more and more foods (including those that are kosher) are produced there.
From virtually no high tech funding from China in the early 2000s, the period of 2011-2013 saw Chinese firms invest $32 billion in Israel.
China now ranks second (after the United States) in collaboration with Israeli high-tech firms that are backed by Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist.
The Chinese word for Jew, you tai, can be written with a variety of symbols – yet troublingly, the one used most often is demeaning, denoting dog or monkey. …It’s thought that the derogatory spelling originated at a time when Jews were considered extremely exotic or foreign to China.
Trade between the Israel and China has skyrocketed: increasing over 20000% in the past two decades, to more than $10.8 billion today. After the United States and the European Union, China is now Israel’s third-largest trading partner.
Topics in the article include the following:
Lost Jews of China
Jews and Chinese Food
What’s in a Name?
Jewish Ghetto of Shanghai
EXCITING KAIFENG REPORT BARNABY YEH
Following are excerpts from Barneby’s enthusiastic report. He also included wonderful pictures that I don’t know how to incorporate. For more information or to see the photos, please contact him directly at email@example.com
After a period in Taiwan visiting family for Chinese New Year, I have returned to Kaifeng to serve the community for Purim. After a busy week, I am finally able to pull together the time and strength for an update.
Most importantly, I herald amazing news.
My work began immediately upon arrival in Kaifeng, preparing for Purim celebrations. I bought a Megillat Esther in Baltimore expressly for this purpose, and I practiced night and day in the month leading up to Purim.
Meanwhile, I was rooming with David Liu, whose plan is to collaborate with Kaifeng Jews and the government of Kaifeng City to create Jewish institutions, from tourism and economics to cultural preservation. Most importantly, he aims to set up the Jewish community center that all of us have been speaking of. We will, with the help of God, put the primary focus on learning Lishmah, and a secondary focus on providing a home for every Jewish visitor. In addition, he and his colleagues aim to make preservation efforts at the old synagogue site, with the hopes of making it into a Jewish museum. With his means and passion, I have renewed faith in the Jewish renaissance of Kaifeng.
And with the arrival of the Purim celebration, my hopes were further confirmed. A couple of us had a brief Mincha prayer for the Fast of Esther, and already I could see a passion to learn. When nightfall arrived, we did the Maariv service followed by Megillah reading – in my special Henan opera-flavored Iraqi taamim. As well, I introduced them to the mitzvot of Mishloach Manot and Matanot laEvyonim. (We raised RMB 600 to distribute amidst the needy members of the community, including Shi Lei’s father who is currently struggling with heart disease – we wish him a refua sheleima.) The festive meal that followed was filled with not only alcohol, but friendship, camaraderie, and ruach (“spirit”, if you will!). Blessings were exchanged, and with the aid of David Liu’s exuberant optimism, we stated a renewed interest to learn Torah as hard as ever, and to return. (“Return” was used in a dual sense here, implying both return to God and Torah as well as return to the land of Israel.) As Purim continued (into the second day – yes, Kaifeng historically celebrated two days of Purim), the events were a lot less stated, but the spirit to learn was no less strong. We did a study of Megillat Esther in Chinese over the Purim Seudah, and I found myself floored by how captivated they were by the Biblical narrative.
Sadly, not all is joyous, and on Sunday, I was called to the mitzvah of Levayat Meitim. … Although her funeral was not as speedy as a Jewish one should be, she was at the very least interred in the earth as customary for Jewish tradition. I had the honor of placing dirt over her final resting place, also in accordance with Jewish tradition. She was survived by over a HUNDRED descendants, who came from all over the country to her home in Lankao, less than an hour east of Kaifeng. As we celebrated her life over the consolatory meal, I did my duty to inform her descendants of their illustrious heritage. It struck me how Semitic some of them looked. One of them would absolutely positively be greeted in Hebrew if he landed on the streets of Tel Aviv!
As an added bonus, I was given a genealogy of the family, as well as the opportunity to contact some of them. … I also learned from one of them that the descendants of Hangzhou’s Jewish community (which was much larger than Kaifeng’s during Ai Tian’s time) are still meeting annually. It would behoove me to visit these people (whom I have only heard of i passing), and it would certainly be a good excuse for me to visit the beautiful city of Hangzhou!
Most important from all my experiences this past week that I have found a bevy of Jewish descendants (some of them quite possibly halakhic Jews themselves), young and old, willing to learn more about their heritage.
That being said, it is certainly my hope that SINO JUDAIC INSTITUTE plays a part in this. Whether it is by funding, organizing activities, or simply promotion, this project would be served by all of us collaborating with our respective roles.
I hope you will join me in our efforts, which are already bearing fruit. Next on the agenda: Passover!
CHICAGO- April 2-11
Thursday afternoon, April 2, Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave, “Chinese Perception of Jews,” as part of the 20th Annual Asian-America Heritage Conference, 12:15 p.m. (Contact: Yasmin Ranney)
Friday night, April 3, Seder.
Thursday night, April 7, Center for Jewish Studies at University of
Chicago 4:30 lecture on the Jewish Diasporas in China covering both
earlier and more recent periods.
Friday night, April 10 Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, 3003 Dodge, Evanston (Contact: Freddi L. Greenberg)
MINNEAPOLIS: April 11-14
University of Minnesota: Public Lecture on Jewish Refugees in Shanghai on April 13 as part of an exhibition runningfrom March 18 to May 7.
NEW YORK CITY April 14-18
New York University
BOSTON April 18-22
HARTFORD April 22-24
WASHINGTON, DC April 24-29
HOUSTON April 29-May 3
LOS ANGELES May 3-14
RETURN TO CHINA May 14