News for 2015
Following a trip to Israel in March, Professor Xu Xin plans to visit the US next April/May. Following lectures at Northeastern University in Chicago and the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, and attendance at the Friend Family Seder, he will respond to invitations from Harvard, Wesleyan, George Washington University and Houston. Specific dates will follow.
Personal Judaic Pilgrimage to China: THREE FACETS
By Beverly Friend, Ph.D. May, 2012
At the age of 77, I set foot on Chinese soil for the seventh time in the past 25 years — this time to receive a citation as an Honorary Director of Glazer Institute for Judaic Studies at Nanjing University in celebration of the Institute’s 20th Anniversary. Our ceremony was embedded in a much larger festivity — the 110th Anniversary of the University.
What an honor!
Nothing can compare with sitting with fellow honorees at a table in the front of a tiered lecture hall in the Johns Hopkins building, hot tea in mugs before us and two screens behind us which projected translations of our words as we spoke. I was especially delighted to be able to share this with my travelling companions: daughters Tracy and Marla, friend Irv Kaplan, and Cousin Richard Pass. To add to my personal pleasure, CD’s of Tracy’s original Hebraic melodies provided musical background. It just doesn’t get any better! All that was missing was my late husband, Jim, the first Jew Xu Xin ever met, and the catalyst for all that has followed (although he did not live to see any of it).
While Guilford and Diane Glaser were unable to attend the ceremony, they sent a letter stating how proud they were to have their name associated with this world-class initiative — a thought that was echoed by all the speakers. Their sincere appreciation and support of the Institute was further witnessed by the establishment of the “Diane and Guilford Chair of Jewish and Israel Studies” at Nanjing University during the commemoration.
Professor Hong Yingxing, Party Secretary of Nanjing University, gave the opening remarks, followed by Dr. Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Laureate of Chemistry for 2004 and professors Dan Schechtman (Technion and 2011 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry), Zhang Qianhong, Vice-President of Zhengzhou University and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at Henan University; and Fu Youde, Director of Institute of Judaism and Inter-religious Studies at Shandong University.
The Glazer Institute then awarded Directorships to Marwyn Samuels, Chairman of XL Holdings International Investment Services, an old China hand and a long time supporter for Jewish studies programs in China, and me, and we each had an opportunity to respond and present scholarships to deserving students.
When it was my turn to speak, I told the audience that while I had stood on the Great Wall of China six times, always filled with awe, that Wall –- magnificent as it is –- was not what brought me back to China. I returned each time not primarily to see what was intended to divide people – a wall – but to work on breaking down walls by participating in what unites them –- a bridge — the unique one provided by the China/Judaic Studies Association, furthering the study of Judaism in China. (A video of the entire session can be seen at http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDAxMDc0NDIw.html)
Following speeches and coverage by both international and local TV, we all continued to the Institute itself where a plaque honoring Yao Yi-en, Scholar, translator, and Chinese Expert on the study of Shalom Aleichem was unveiled, which formally declared the establishment of Center of Shalom Aleichem Studies in China.
Then, Tracy presented 168 CD’s of Hebrew/Jewish music gathered from composers and performers throughout the U.S. to provide the core of a musical archive for the Institute. As she stated during her brief presentation, “Jewish music is central to Jewish worship and celebration, and is an integral component of learning about Judaism and Jewish culture.” Combined with the 54 CDs she contributed during our 2006 visit to Nanjing, the Institute now houses the largest collection of Jewish music in China.
After that, we had opportunity to sit down with Institute Alumni in an informal setting to learn their current and future plans. All were excited about their careers, and dedicated to their work as faculty members in Judaic Studies spanning many universities including Ludong University, Tianjin Normal University, Henan University of Technology, the Institute of Jewish Studies at Henan University, Henan Normal University, and Zhejiang Normal University.
Following our stay in Nanjing, we headed to the city I had most wanted to see in prior trips: Harbin, and learned far more than I had ever expected. While I had known that Jews had settled there in the days of the Russian Pogroms, I had never realized just how big an influence they had had on the development of the city. First, there were the plaques on many main street buildings, citing the Jews who lived or practiced their professions there. But even more impressive were the signs in the Jewish museum housed in the New Synagogue where notice after notice gave credit to Jewish initiative and foresight in bringing this city from an agricultural to an industrial state.Each plaque bestowed words of high praise, such as the following:
The people will forever remember the contributions made by the Jewish people to the development of the city.
Harbin Jews brought about numerous economic miracles by bringing into full play their intellectual and business talent and working closely with the Harbin people.
During the first half of the 20th century, Jews brought to China Europe’s latest achievements in social sciences, literature, art and natural sciences. They spread Western culture and brought advanced science and technology to Harbin and to China as a whole. By the mid 1920’s, Jews who pursued intellectual work in the fields of education, law, journalism, medicine, engineering, technology, culture and the arts made up 33.8% of Harbin’s working population. Among them were exceptional individuals, famous professors, excellent journalists, talented pianists and violinists, who were well known both at home and abroad and brought about remarkable achievements….
I can think of nowhere else in the world where non-Jews have been so fulsome in their appreciation and praise. It was daunting, wonderful, and yet sad as no Jews remain in this city. There are only the empty buildings, the cemetery (where the grandfather of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is buried) and a myriad of decorative Stars of David gracing buildings, staircases, windows, gateways, and tombstones.
Yes, we saw the magnificent wall again but for me the highlight of the city was meeting Xu Long, author of Money of Ancient Judaea and Israel, a remarkable work by a remarkable man. Xu is NOT a professional numismatist; he is a professional chef. In fact, he is the head chef in the catering branch of the Great Hall of the People, China’s parliament building in Beijing, supervising more than 200 chefs in the preparation of state banquets. He also travels to other countries, including the US, and will soon head to Turkey to supervise Turkish chefs in the proper preparation of Chinese dishes. If he gives as much care and attention to his culinary skills as he does to his research, his meals must be notable.
Xu Long’s book is both comprehensive and cohesive, including not only thousands of photos of Jewish and Israeli coins, but also incorporating information on the historical periods of each — introducing history, religion, culture, art, folk customs, education, science, technology, political and military influences. The 575-page work is a 10-year labor of love, brimming with scholarship. And while we did not get to sample his own cooking, he hosted us for a remarkable meal at a Peking Duck Restaurant, ordering special dishes from his colleague there, and the next day took us on a personal, behind-the-scenes tour of the Great Hall of the People.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
I do not know if I will get to China again, but hope my children and grandchildren will continue our connection with the Judaic Institute. Certainly, peripatetic Xu Xin will be back in the U.S. in the near future. Meanwhile, he barely has time to catch his breath. A week after we left, he was being honored for distinguished teaching, and he will participate in Testing Limmud in Beijing on June 3, and the International Conference on Ancient World History in Tianjin from June 16-18, followed by an International Conference on Israel-China Relations: Past and Future in Shanghai from June 21-28.The latter is divided a section on Israeli Studies in China: Introducing One Ancient Civilization to Another, Thursday-Friday, (at Shanghai International Studies University) and Future History: Civil Society vs. State from a Traditional and Modern Perspective, Sunday-Monday (at Fudan University). There is no doubt in any of our minds that China is thriving — and we are happy to report that the same is true of the Glaser Institute for Judaic Studies at Nanjing University, with 20 years now completed and a bright future.
by Dan Pine. Contributed to this web page by Robert Goodman
What do Israel and China have in common? Quite a lot, as the Bay Area is about to discover. The two countries have developed strong ties since they launched diplomatic relations exactly 20 years ago. Now, the nations have decided it’s time to celebrate. The Bay Area will play host to the first Israel China Cultural Festival, a month long series of art and photo exhibits, film screenings, lectures, panels, comedy and children’s book events. It culminates with a big banquet in San Francisco’s Chinatown. See site for full article. (J Weekly.com May 31, 2012)
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Xu Xin now back in China after a whirlwind four and a half months traveling and lecturing at over 40 cities in 15 states and Canada, is far from stayinig put in one place. He recently returned from a symposium in Shanghai just in time to headout again for another in Kyoto, Japan.On Sept. 23, Xu traveled to Kyoto, to present a paper on “Tracing Judaism in China” as part of a symposium on ” Religions in China: Focusing on the Monotheistic Religions,” organized by Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions, Doshisha University.
Prior to this, he attended a weekend workshop on “Teaching about the Holocaust in a Global Context,” where he delivered a public lecture on “the Comparisons between the Holocaust and the Nanjing Massacre.” Xu was referred by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and invited by Concordia International School Shanghai. Concordia is run for children with foreign passports, and the workshop was attended not only by their students and faculty but also by high school teachers from numerous Southeast Asian countries.
Xu also addressed to a larger audience on “Jewish Diasporas in China” at a panel discussion held at “M on the Bund,” a famous Shanghais public lecture hall.
Two other keynote workshop speakers were Manli Ho, daughter of Dr. Feng Shan Ho, a Chinese diplomat who issued thousands of visas to Austrian Jews during WWII and received of the title of Righteous Man among the Nations from Israel, and Dr. Eva Fogelman, a psychotherapist, writer, and filmmaker. Ho lectured on “Diplomatic Rescue: An Overview” and “Dr. Feng Shan Ho’s Rescue Work.” Fogelman addressed “The Psychological Impact of the Holocaust on Survivors, Their Children, and Grandchildren.”The event included an on exhibit “The Nazi Scourge: Postal Evidence of the Holocaust and the Devastation of Europe” prepared by Danny Spungen, founder and president of the Florence & Laurence Spungen Family Foundation in the US. The Glazer Institute of Jewish Studies at Nanjing University provided assistance in translating from English into Chinese for the exhibits.
ARTICLES WORTH READING:
- Chinese chef’s main course: Ancient Jewish coins
- Article from ASIAN JEWISH LIFE: on Shanghai
- Article from ASIAN JEWISH LIFE: on Harbin
- Bnai Brith Magazine, Fall, 2011. “In the East, Learning from the West…and BringingJudaic Studies to China” http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=79867
- Article on Ying Han, who became interesed in Jewish literature and Kabbalah via her translations of Isaac Bashavis Singer’s short stories http://www.forward.com/articles/143688/
- Chinese prof devotes life to study of Jewish ‘soulmates’ – Canadian National Post article on Xu’s lectures.
- Documentary – The Road to Jewish Civilization – 12-episodes (with English subtitles) introduce the Jewish people and the story of the State of Israel and its development in a historical, comprehensive and systematic manner to Chinese audiences – from Biblical times to the modern State of Israel of the 21st century, (from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
- Selling the Talmud as a Business Guide – In China, notions of Jewish business acumen lead to a publishing boom—and stereotyping. Newsweek Article
- ANIMATING JEWISH-CHINESE RELATIONS – A story of lasting friendship – from Asian Jewish Life.
According to an article by Yair Ettiger in Haaretz.
“Yad Vashem hosted its first-ever seminar for Chinese Holocaust scholars, who toured the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and said China should be prouder of its role in saving Jewish lives.
At Yad Vashem’s museum, members of the group of two dozen stared intently at a display case containing an entry permit to Shanghai issued by the Chinese government in April 1939 to a German-Jewish couple, Lorenz and Toni Dresler. The delegation, composed of China’s leading Holocaust scholars, includes teachers and lecturers.“
Professor Xu Xin and his colleague Lihong Song were involved in the planning of this trip. Song and five graduates of the Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Nanjing University participated.
See Song’s interview in the Jerusalem Post.
CHINA 2010: Building Bridges
by Beverly Friend
Six times, over the past 25 years, I have stood on the Great Wall of China, each time filled with awe. But the Wall – magnificent as it is – is not what brings me back to China. I return each time not primarily to see what was intended to divide people – a wall – but to work on breaking down walls by participating in what unites them – a bridge. My particular bridge is the unique one provided by the China/Judaic Studies Association, furthering the study of Judaism in China.
This most recent visit fell into three neat divisions. We began with what might be termed the appetizers – sightseeing in Beijing with the Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Olympic Park, and the Temple of Heaven, and then moving on to the scenic wonders of Guilin and a Li River Cruise. We ended with what I consider the dessert — bustling, thriving Shanghai, where we culminated our two weeks with an exhausting but exhilarating visit to the 2010 World Expo.
But to me, the best part was the main course – Nanjing, the city which had been my initial goal in 1985 when I visited my late husband, Jim Friend, who was teaching English at Nanjing University. There, I met the man who was to change all of our lives – Professor Xu Xin – then deputy chair of the English Department, now the leading Judaic Scholar in China. His meeting with Jim, the first Jew he had ever known, was the catalyst for all that followed, even though Jim did not live long enough to see the aftermath.
On trip number five, in 2006, my oldest daughter Tracy, her partner Lynn, and I stepped onto an official academic bridge between the Chinese and Jewish peoples when we attended the dedication of the Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Nanjing University – the realization of Xu’s dream. For Xu Xin, “not to understand the contribution of the Jews to world history is not to understand the world.” For me, “not to understand another people is a failed opportunity to counteract hatred and bigotry.”
Now I was returning with my younger daughter Marla, her husband Steve, their children, and my dear friend Irv Kaplan, to see what the Institute is achieving.
Nothing can compare with the thrill of sitting down with 15 graduate students to learn about their current studies. Several have spent a year in Israel, at Tel Aviv University, and for others this lies ahead. The depth of their dedication was evident as we proceeded around the conference table, each of them proudly announcing current projects. The varied studies are impressive and range from historical to religious topics.
On the MA level, students are working on topics that include an “Analysis on Medieval Anti-Semitic Cartoons,” “The Rennes Court Martial and the Reaction of British Society,” “A Survey on the Functions of Synagogues,” “The Separation of Christianity from Judaism,” and “A Study on Educational Ideology of Samson Raphael Hirsch: the Jewish Religious Education Facing Modernity.”
Doctoral dissertations deal with “The Status of Jewish Women in Medieval Europe,” “The Creation and the Influence of the Promulgation of the Jewish Declaration of Vatican II of the Roman Catholic Church,” “A Study of the Berlin Haskalah Movement,” “A Study of Ahad Ha-am’s Cultural Zionism,” “Sources of Ideology of the Reform Movement in Germany” and “The Battle Against the Opposition — A Study of the Jewish Peoples’ Fight Against Holocaust Denial”
It was equally exciting finally to meet Professor Lihong Song – who will succeed Xu as Director of the Institute four years from now when Xu retires at age 65. I had not had the opportunity to meet him during Song’s studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, last year, but had read several of his fine articles and knew he was preparing himself for the post. We also met Israeli Enav Sinshi, who has been teaching Hebrew at the Institute for the past three years while completing his MA at the University. Unfortunately, we were not able to meet Professor Zhenhua Meng who was currently attending a Hebrew Bible Conference at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Looking at the students and faculty of the Institute, I could see what they had accomplished and – even more important — were planning to accomplish in the time ahead. And I also saw the pride with which the University regards the Judaic Studies Program when university dignitaries Vice President Ren Lijian, Director Zuo Chengci, and Deputy Director Dai Zhehua, met with us formally and then informally at a banquet, to discuss these future plans.
It is so amazing to have watched the growth of the Judaic Institute from its seedling days, planted when Xu met Jim – and growing through such wonderful projects as the translation of the Encyclopedia Judaica into Chinese, and Nanjing’s summer institutes held for professors of history and world civilizations from other Chinese colleges and universities in order for them to incorporate this information into their own classes. To continue the metaphor: the harvest is in this thriving Institute!
Or with another metaphor, it can all be can be likened to a pebble falling into a pond and generating concentric circles. Just as an example, when Xu taught his first classes in Judaic Studies to 15 students, they asked questions that dealt with Jewish identity, family values, anti-Semitism, the connection to Israel, and keys to Jewish success and contributions to science, medicine business and the arts. At that time, over 20 years ago, I solicited answers from clergy and laymen alike and sent them all off to Xu. Later, I listed the questions on the Association web site. Reading these questions online so many years later, American Jewish Physician Eric J. Friedman was inspired to answer. The result is the book “Seven Chinese Questions, Seven Jewish Answers,” written in English and translated into Chinese by Xu Xin, and published in a provocative dual-language edition and one of the most recent of Xu’s many projects. (I brought back several copies and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information).
Xu has also just completed a translation of “The Years of Extermination” by Saul Friedlander and he is currently writing about the history and current state of Anti Semitism, a book which he hopes to finish this summer.
As time passes, however, both Xu and I are feeling our mortality: he, because of his recent death-threatening cerebral aneurism, and me simply because of advancing years. As he recovered, Xu decided to donate a considerable amount of his own earnings — including all the royalties from his books – to the Institute. In addition, I have decided to establish a James Friend Memorial Endowment to provide the much-needed scholarships for worthy students. As the school has just created a Nanjing University (NUJUEF) Educational Foundation, tax deductable donations can be made and sent to a U.S. address:
2207 Concord Pike Suite 106
Wilmington, DE 19803
Please note Judaic Studies on your check.
Leaving Nanjing, we traveled through Jiangdu, Xu’s hometown and Suzhou, home of his wife Kong Defang, and in each place experienced heart-warming moments with Xu’s mother and many other family members. What a trip down memory lane – we are all one family!
During our final morning in China, we returned to our cultural bridge, visiting an important site where Xu takes all of his graduate students: the Jewish Refugees Museum in Shanghai. Located in the former Ohel Moishe Synagogue, the museum offers a well-conceived 8-minute video followed by exhibits about the history of and artifacts from refugees who were sheltered in the city during World War II. The synagogue is situated in the Hongkou ghetto district – which is now much smaller in area than in former years. Much has been torn down to make way for new buildings. According to Xu, 10,000 new apartments go up in Shanghai each month and a vast complex is currently being built to accommodate docking and shopping malls for those planning to enjoy future cruises into the city. What remains of the ghetto itself has been renovated and, while it gives some idea of what life must have been like for those fleeing Europe, it has been sanitized some and is not nearly as daunting as I recall it from earlier trips.
What lies next? I told Xu it was his turn now and he should plan to visit the U.S. I believe he may do so, possibly next October. And as for me? Will there be a seventh trip, or an eighth? Who knows what the future holds? But what I do know and hope for is the future success of the Institute. May it outlive all of us and thrive in future years to be a bridge between our two peoples.
MEET LIHONG SONG
“Jews are invisible in China.” If Lihong song’s assertion is true, why would this historian choose to specialize in Judaic Studies? The answer lies in his remarkable intellectual autobiography. To read his words is to take heart that the future of the Glazer Institute for Judaic Studies is assured and will rest in very good hands.
By Lihong Song
How did I start my interest in Jewish subjects and eventually turn out a Jewish studies scholar in China? As you can imagine, I have been asked this question countless times. It always evokes a sense of hesitation—even an anxiety—in me. Part of the reason is that I try to piece together many of my fragmented experience into a meaningful whole. Which episode should I choose? Is this experience more meaningful or more fitting to recount in the current situation than that?
To select this or that, that is the question. Ultimately, I have accumulated many different answers over years. This assertion seems to put my intellectual integrity into question, but that is more apparent than real. Cecil Roth once explained that he became a historian “frankly for the pleasure of the thing.” Yet Lucy Dawidowicz was not convinced—for her, “no historian works only for the fun of it, no matter how much fun he gets out of it.” Obviously, the search for multifarious relevance, rather than an immutable and essential truth, which seems particularly problematic in light of the master narrative of post-modernism, is at least more instinctive.
I was trained a historian. Historians are also instinctive to contextualize, which makes me more hesitant. In this respect, I am aware that there is a profound chasm stretching between my Jewish inquirer and me. That is, Jews are invisible in China. Of course, there are descendents of Kaifeng Jews, but they physically are indistinguishable from other Chinese and are not halakhaklly sanctioned. True, there is organized Jewish life in big cities of Beijing and Shanghai, but it is accessible only to Jewish sojourners in China. For ordinary Chinese, the only way to learn the Jewish people is by reading books.
Alas, there are numerous books on this topic. The shelves of Chinese bookstores have been lined with bestsellers on Jewish subjects, with such eye-catching titles as Talmud: The Greatest Jewish Bible for Making Money, Unveiling the Secrets of Jewish Success in World Economy… In my opinion, this voyeuristic interest in the Jewish success reflects that most Chinese are not so much interested in real Jews as the Jew as tropes. The most prevalent trope of this kind in China is that the Jew is anyone who is smart, wealthy and successful. As a matter of fact, some non-Jewish celebrities are widely regarded as Jewish in China, for example, Rockefeller.
In retrospect, I myself was not impervious to this trope. In my college years, I was a student in the department of history, majoring in the history of the West in general and the Roman Empire in particular. It’s natural for a Chinese to be attracted to the Roman Empire. The parallels are self-evident: the geographical expansion, the relations between a central government and numerous local communities, the tensions between individual political freedom and the totalizing momentum of an empire, the multi-ethnic society and the consequent negotiation of cultural and religious identities. My concern with these issues brought my attention to the works of Fergus Millar, then the Camden Professor of Ancient History of Oxford University and a towering figure in today’s Roman studies. I took notice that his The Emperor in the Roman World, the work that had earned him international reputation, was inspired by his reading in Josephus.
This was a new name for me. I had read Tacitus, Suetonius, Appian and some Livy. But who was Josephus? A Jewish renegade—this fact impressed me most, because it completely subverted another “fact” I gathered from the popular Chinese fantasies about the Jewish success. It goes like this: “Why Jewish people have survived so many persecutions while those persecutors themselves disappeared in historical dustbin? The secret lies in the fact that you cannot find a single Jewish traitor throughout whole Jewish history.”
To Chinese sensibilities, the overtone of this assertion is “Why has Modern China declined? Because there were so many Chinese renegades who sold our national interests to western and Japanese colonial powers.” I was struck not by Josephus’ magnum opus on Jewish ancient history and Jewish War against the Romans, but by his slim books: firstly Against Apion, in which he refuted with eloquence and great skill various anti-Jewish slanders by pagan authors; and secondly his Vita, in which several creative tensions —
between Eretz Israel and diaspora, between Talmud Torah and secular learning, between “tradition” and “modernity”—can be sensed. I think I was attracted by a fundamental tension in Josephus: he was a traitor, yet he had a burning feeling for the tradition inherent in him. Anyway, Josephus was the first Jewish traitor I discovered, hence the commencement of my credentials as a Jewish studies scholar.
BEYOND XU XIN
Although I am on the board of the Sino Judaic Institute, I was unable to attend their annual June 27 meeting in San Francisco, having just returned from China myself on June 24. However, I got a fascinating email from them – centering on a report made by Treasurer Steve Hochstadt, of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, about his recent China trip. While I know much of what is happening with Xu Xin and the China Judaic Studies Assn., and have shared this with you, Steve’s report also focused on other sites dealing with Judaic Studies in China that I thought would be of interest.
The Institute Of Jewish Studies At Henan University In Kaifeng
This is not as old as the Glazer Institute (1998), but currently has more faculty (5) and more students (about 30). Director, Professor Zhang Ligang, and faculty member, Professor Hu Hao, were both Xu Xin’s Ph.D students at Nanjing. Only the MA is offered here and the best students are sent to Nanjing for the Ph.D. The library at Henan is much smaller, although they just received $1,000 donation to buy books.
Zhang runs an annual paper competition for Chinese university students on any topic in Jewish studies, with a 1000 RMB prize. This year students from 10 universities participated and nearly 100 papers were submitted to be judged by a panel of scholars. Zhang would like to expand this competition and make it the signature activity of his Institute.
The Center Of Jewish Studies Shanghai At The Shanghai Academy Of Social Sciences In Shanghai
Directed by Professor Pan Guang, the Center was founded in 1988 and is purely a research site. The Center is well funded by the government and Guang is better known around the world as an authority on Jews in China. He is Director of the Shanghai Center for International Studies and holds a UN appointment to the Alliance of Civilizations. There is less focus on the Jews of Kaifeng in Shanghai and more interest in the modern history of Jews in China.
Guang will initiate a Young Scholars Conference on Jewish Studies in Shanghai in August 2010. So far, about 40 young scholars from many universities have signed up to participate. He has also organized international conferences on Jews in China and on the Holocaust. Guang has edited collections of photographs of refugee Jews in Shanghai and papers from his conferences.
Yiceleye School In Kaifeng
Hochstadt was introduced to some descendants of a Jewish family in Kaifeng. They identify themselves as Jewish and proudly display a large sign above their front door that says a Jewish family lives here. Students have been learning Hebrew prayers for almost a year to more in the “Yiceleye School.” For Hochstadt’s benefit, they held a Shabbat service on a Tuesday, singing many prayers from a Hebrew Siddur. The students had made great progress and were very pleased with what they had learned and the social contact within the class. They were mainly middle-aged, although a few youngsters apparently also come to the class every week. While there have been volunteers, the Yiceleye group needs teachers in order to continue their progress and maintain their cohesion. They have a solid structure through a council which makes financial decisions, but Hochstadt was not sure that they will be able to maintain cohesion over the long term without a teacher.
October, 2008:Endowment for the Study of Monotheism
The Exilarch Foundation has made a generous initial endowment to the Institute for Jewish Studies to establish the Naim Dangoor Fund for Universal Monotheism Studies. Matched by University funds, the new program will enhance the Institute’s research and teaching of the core concepts of three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Philanthropist Naim Dangoor, an Iraqi-born Jew who moved to Britain in 1964 and became a successful property investor and developer in London, created the Exilarch Foundation in 1978. This grew into a major philanthropic institution providing support for education and other causes in UK and in Israel. He received the Order of the British Empire in 2006 for his generous contributions and far-reaching vision of today’s world. Income from the endowment will be used to create a better understanding of
the world by the Chinese people. It will also advance efforts to recruitand retain a distinguished director, who will be given the title Naim Dangoor Director of the Institute for Universal Monotheism in honor of the Exilarch’s Foundation’s founder.
Reflecting on the commitment of the Exilarch’s Foundation to the Institute of Jewish Studies, Institute founding Director Xu Xin said,”This gift of an endowment from the Exilarch’s Foundation will enableus to extend the scope of the Institute of Jewish Studies. It will enhance our ability tocollaborate with other institutes, and with various doctoral programs inco-sponsoring programs and in training and encouraging students to carry out research on Universal Monotheism important to understanding the worldcivilization in general and seek to find a universal project for world peace that recognizes the significance of each human being throughout theworld.”
For links to a special edition of China Daily see the following:
My Years in Nanking, reminiscences of Inyeening Shen
Jane Shen Schopf (the late David’ Miller’s former wife) has edited “My Years in Nanking, reminiscences of Inyeening Shen” (Jane’s mother). After the Sino-Japanese War and the Nanking massacre, Dr. Shen Yi was appointed Mayor of Nanking. In the memoir, his wife relates her experiences as Mao Ze-dong’s army surged toward the city. Her reminiscences chronicle Nanking 1946-48 and her struggles to maintain the mayoral household, to host and forge friendships with diplomats, to interact with Madame Chaing Ka-shek, and to organize an impressive relief for Nanking’s refugees.
Inyeening Shen (1907-99) was an acclaimed Chinese writer, essayist and poet, artist and student of China’s grandmaster Chang
Ta-ch’ien. Jane is an internationally known plant biologist at UCLA noted for her research on the germination of centuries old
lotus seeds and her husband William Schopf is a Professor of Paleobiology at UCLA and the author of many scholarly works on the
origins of life. Currently, they have both been invited to give lectures in India in November in celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200-year birth and 150 years since the publication “On the Origin of Species.”
The book is available from Amazon, and I reviewed it there.
Survival In Shanghai: The Journals Of Fred Marcus 1939-49
This book by by Audrey Friedman Marcus and Rena Krasno is available now! To order, go to www.fredmarcusmemorialwebsite.com or send a check for $22.95 plus $3.99 postage to Rena Krasno, 255 S Rengstorff, Apt 106, Mountain View, CA 94040.
Is the former Jewish presence in Harbin historically overlooked and/or neglected? Here is a fascinating email from Dr. Alfonz Lengyel (Sarasota, Florida):
It is interesting, that in the USA only the early Jewish settlement in Kaifeng is well known, but NOT the Jewish settlement in Harbin (Heilongjiang) province of China. The China Daily never wrote about anything about the contribution of the Immigrant Jews in Harbin’s economy and culture which still have standing buildings from the Jewish past in Harbin. In the other hand, not many vestige of the Jewish settlement remained in Kaifeng.
This was my topic of my paper at the International Economic Conference in Harbin in late June, 2008. In Kaifeng almost nothing left from the Jewish past but in Harbin in addition of the restored two synagogues and great number of commercial and non commercial buildings, schools, hotels, etc. are still are intact. In the Jewish Encyclopedia only Kaifeng is but Harbin was not included. Under Mao Zedong, during the Cultural Revolution both Old and New Synagogues were ruined. Under the present Market Socialist system both Synagogues were in 2004 restored. The synagogues are under the protection of the Harbin Jewish Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Harbin’s Branch. ( Head of the Center: Director (Mrs. Fu Mingjing)
The Jewish Research Center authorized me to organize for them a 10-day summer exchange of talented mixed Jewish and not Jewish group, to perform in Harbin.
I have a 40-minute Power Point presentation about the Rise and Fall of Jewish Settlement in Harbin. I organized in Sarasota (Fl.) few years ago a photo exhibition about the history of the Jewish settlement in Harbin. (1890’s to 1950). My Chinese wife Dr. Hongying Liu, professor of Nanjing University of Economy and Finances, helped me more then 20 years on my research on Jews in China, including Kaifeng, Tianjin, and Shanghai.
In an alternative to American Girl books and Dolls, Reyna and the Jade Star, by Robin Levinson, tells the story of 12-year-old Reyna Li who lives in Old China’s Jewish community of Kaifeng, in the year 1175. See http://www.galigirls.com
“A glass was smashed, and a cheer went up. After months of careful negotiations with the Chinese government, Shanghai’s Jewish community celebrated a revival last month as a historic synagogue opened for its first wedding in about 60 years.”
For the full article, see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/976404.html
“The capital’s only Kosher restaurant opened 10 months ago, drawing the small Jewish expatriate community, tourists, curious Chinese and even a few Muslims. Business has been so good at Dini’s Kosher Restaurant, that part-owner Lewis Sperber is talking about setting up a second branch closer to the Olympic venues in northern Beijing.”
For full article, see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/950010.html
“China expressed regret on Thursday over the decision by movie director Steven Spielberg to quit as an artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics because of its policies in war-torn Sunday.” For full article see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/954290.html
“Faced with Israeli trade and travel restrictions, a stagnant economy and a flood of cheap imports from Asia, Palestinian businessmen are increasingly seeking their fortunes in China.” For full article, see http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/971006.html
No Girls in the Marching Band, A Memoir, gives a detailed description of the initial friendship between Jim Friend, and Professor Xu Xin, in 1985 and tells the story of the organization up to the ultimate moment: the dedication of the Glazer Institute for Judaic Studies at Nanjing University in 2006. Further information on the book can be found at Cafe Press.
China Journal: A World of Difference, the posthumous publication of James Friend’s joyous diary about teaching at Nanjing University, 1985-86, can be found at Cafe Press
Membership in the Association promotes Judaic Study in China
- University Courses
- Seminars and Public Lectures on Judaic Topics here and in China
- Judaic Conferences
- Tours to Jewish Historical Sites
- Awards to Chinese scholars who have made outstanding contributions in the field
- Publications which include the following:
- A Chinese Version of the Enclyclopedia Judaica (in 2nd printing)
- Anti-Semitism: How and Why (in Chinese), by Xu Xin
- Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng (in English), by Xu Xin with Beverly Friend
- This website, which evolved from the bi-annual newsletter The China/Judaic Connection
- Books, monographs and articles
- Electronic mailings to people who have expressed an interest in the subject