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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been visiting this forum for quite some time (although have only recently began to post) and thought that it might be interesting to include a thread on the history and culture of China's small Jewish community, whose origins date back more than 1,200 years. Special thanks to big-dog for letting me do this. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
From the Sino-Judaic Institute: http://www.sino-judaic.org/index.php?page=general_history

(Many thanks to HaSini for telling me about this institute :) )

General History of Jews in China

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in China for well over a thousand years. While the number of Jews in China has always been small, Jews arrived there in five ripples of immigration:

1. Ancient Communities: Kaifeng
Jews traveled from West Asia over the Silk Road and by sea via India probably in Tang dynasty (618 – 907 CE). Some scholars think they may have arrived even earlier, during the Later Han dynasty (25 – 220 CE), which would coincide with Roman persecution in Judea.

Jews were certainly established in Kaifeng by 960 CE, which was then called Bianliang, when it served as a capital of the Song dynasty. China was then a world center of civilization and trade. Jews also settled in major shipping cities, such as Guangzhou (a southern coast port with access to SE Asia and Persia), Quanzhou (in SE Fujian and a center for foreign trade), Ningpo (from which the Kaifeng Jews received Torah scrolls after the flood in 1461), Yangzhou (a Grand Canal port near the sea on the Yangzi River), and Hangzhou (also on Grand Canal, which is known to have had a synagogue). There is also evidence of Jewish presence inland along the Silk Road in such locations as Dandan Uiliq, Dunhuang, and Ningxia.

In 1163, a synagogue was built in Kaifeng and the community lived close by the synagogue in two lanes called the North and the South ''Teaching Torah'' lanes. The Jewish community prospered despite repeated disasters, such as fires or the flooding of the Yellow river, which frequently destroyed the synagogue.

Whenever disaster struck, the Jews worked together to rebuild their synagogue. A stele was erected each time to commemorate the rebuilding of the synagogue. The Kaifeng Jews erected four steles in total, one each in 1489, 1512, 1663 and 1679. These stelae, except that of 1663 (which remains lost), are currently kept in the Kaifeng Municipal Museum. The stelae tell us how the Jews believed they entered China, their history in Kaifeng, their view of the development of their religion and their religious beliefs, and their practice of the mitzvot (commandments), which was, for centuries, very traditional.

Kaifeng Contacts with Westerners
In his diary, Marco Polo describes meeting with Jews in China in 1286. He reported that Kublai Khan celebrated Jewish, Christian and Muslim festivals.
However, it wasn’t until 1605, that the Jewish presence in China was really “discovered” by the West when a Kaifeng Jew named Ai Tian went to Beijing to take a civil service examination and serendipitously met Fr. Matteo Ricci, the first Jesuit priest to visit China.

After this meeting, the Vatican sent other Jesuits to Kaifeng. The missionaries left excellent sketches and notes about what they observed and confirmed that the Jews of Kaifeng had exactly the same Torah and observed the same religious observances as the Jews of Europe. Contact with Jesuits ended when China closed itself off from missionaries in 1723.

By 17th century, all the coastal communities had disappeared, leaving only Kaifeng extant. We do not know whether the residents assimilated, moved to Kaifeng, or left China. As China declined, so too did the Kaifeng community. The last rabbi passed away in 1810, leaving little Judaic knowledge in the community. By 1854 their synagogue fell to ruin once again, but the community, now impoverished, lacked the means to restore it.

Shortly thereafter, they were “rediscovered” by Protestant missionaries and other Western travelers. At the turn of the 20th century, the Canadian Anglican bishop, William Charles White of Toronto, tried to revive community but without success.

Kaifeng was a closed city from after the Communist victory until the early 1980s when its Jews were “rediscovered” again by journalists and Jewish tourists. They noted that Jewish self-identity persists, most notably in the form of insisting on being registering as Jews in their identity papers, but that Jewish customs and practices had become a faded memory. However, two indications of a revival of Jewish identity in Kaifeng are the example of a young descendant who went to study in Israel and has returned home to serve his community and, separately, the establishment of a school by other descendants.

The Kaifeng community’s 1000 years of continuous existence is an extraordinary display of commitment to their Jewish heritage and tradition in relative isolation from the larger Jewish world, and in a welcoming but culturally powerful host country.

2. Hong Kong and Shanghai: Baghdadi Jews
There has been a Mizrahi Baghdadi Jewish presence in Shanghai and Hong Kong since the Opium War, when Britain forced China to open five port cities for trade. Baghdadi Jewish traders arrived in 1844. By 1862 they had a cemetery; by 1887 a synagogue.

Some Kaifeng Jews came to visit Shanghai in 1851, and exchanges between the two Jewish communities culminated in a second visit in 1900 following the establishment by the Baghdadi community of a society to “rescue” them from cultural oblivion.

By WW1, Shanghai had about 700 Jews, with more than half of these of Mizrahi origin. In 1932, nearly 40% of the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s 100 members were Mizrahi Jews. They joined the city's finest clubs, a privilege denied Jews even in liberal parts of Europe and America, and financed some of Shanghai's finest colonial architecture, including the magnificent Children's Palace (formerly the Kadoorie estate), the art deco Peace Hotel (then the Cathay Hotel), Shanghai Mansions (a Sassoon building that later was used to process hundreds of Jewish refugees), and two synagogues: Bet Aharon and Ohel Rachel.

Like Shanghai, Hong Kong’s first Jews initially came from Iraq and India and were British subjects. The Ohel Leah Synagogue was built by Jacob Sassoon in 1901-2. Hong Kong’s Jewish population was 80 in 1900 and 250 in the 1960s, with about a 50/50 split between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews. Today, Hong Kong’s Jewish population stands at about 3500, with several synagogues, Jewish Day School, and an active community center.

3. Harbin and Points South
Russian Jews first came to Harbin in 1898. They were seeking better economic opportunities in the Russian concession to build Chinese Eastern Railroad in 1898.

After the Russo-Japanese War, decommissioned Jewish soldiers joined these settlers. They were soon followed by refugees from the Russian pogroms of 1905 -07. By 1908, some 8000 Jews lived in Harbin, and the central synagogue was built in 1909. World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the White Russian counter-revolution led to further Jewish persecution. As a result, 10,000 to 15,000 Jews filled Harbin. They created schools, newspapers, a library, Zionist groups, and four synagogues.

However, the 1928 transfer of the railroad to the Chinese and escalating White Russian violence led many Jews to move south to Shanghai, Tianjin, and other southern Chinese cities. In Tianjin, for example, the Jewish population reached 500-600 families between the World Wars I and II.

In 1945, the Soviet Army invaded Manchuria and occupied Harbin. The Soviet administration immediately set about arresting prominent members of the Jewish community, sending many of them back to the USSR. All Zionist and other Jewish organizations’ activities were suspended.

1951 to 1953 saw the immigration of most Jews from Harbin to Israel. By 1962, the Jewish community of Harbin had disappeared.

4. Refuge in Shanghai
Harbiners moved south to Shanghai, Tianjin and elsewhere after the Japanese took Manchuria in the early 1930s. Many settled in the French concession, where they ran their own stores and restaurants, read Russian newspapers and enjoyed their own music, theater and synagogue, the Ohel Moishe.
By 1939, Russian Jews numbered about 5,000 in Shanghai. They were mostly ordinary people on a lower economic scale, mainly working in restaurants, coffee houses, bookstores and other shops. Some were engineers, lawyers or musicians; many became bus drivers. Some engaged in criminal activities, such as drug smuggling and prostitution.

Then came the Ashkenazim fleeing Hitler from Germany, Austria, Poland and other European countries. From 1938 to 1941, an estimated 18,000 poured into Shanghai. Thousands arrived in rags, with neither entry permits nor any means of support.

Why Shanghai? While the rest of the world closed their doors to these refugees, Shanghai remained one of the rare free transit ports. Shanghai required neither visas nor police certificates. It did not ask for affidavits of health or proof of financial independence. There were no quotas.

They came in three waves:
• The first small wave, in 1933-34, was mostly well-educated, German Jews. Because their flight was not made in haste, they were able to bring the financial resources to re-establish their professional lives in China.
• The second wave, during 1938-39, lasted until restrictions were put on immigration by the Japanese and Western powers. Up to 15,000 Jews came, mainly from Austria and Germany - more than 1,000 per month. Their rapid flight prevented them from taking more than minimal belongings.
• The last wave occurred in 1939 when a few thousand Jews escaped from Poland when Germany attacked. Traversing Siberia and Japan, they arrived in Shanghai as impoverished as the second wave.

With the help from the Mizrahi Jews in Shanghai, a refugee resettlement program was organized. They opened schools, organized playing teams, published newspapers and magazines, and even started a band, scout troops and football teams. They had seven synagogues, a Jewish school, four cemeteries and a performance hall.

After Pearl Harbor in 1941, foreigners from the Allied nations were sent to prison camps by the Japanese. But German and Austrian Jews were considered stateless refugees, and were confined to Hongkou “ghetto” in 1943. Early that year, the Japanese promulgated a bulletin announcing the establishment of a 'designated area’ for ‘all refugees who had arrived after 1937.’ By May, all refugees living in Shanghai who had no nationality had moved to locations designated by the military police ‘for security reasons.’

About 8,000 Jews were moved into the Hongkou “ghetto”, joining the approximately 8,000 impoverished Jews already residing there. The area measured less than two sq. km. Although there was no barbed wire and only light patrols, adults needed officially approved passes to exit the section.

Given the high population density in this “ghetto”, living conditions deteriorated rapidly. Some people begged on the street. Some went to work in Chinese mills. Some engaged in prostitution. For all its problems, considering the alternative in Europe, life was not so bad; it was still an opportunity for life.

This “ghetto” lasted from May 1943 until surrender of Japan in August 1945. During WW2, approximately 24,000 Jews total lived in Shanghai. After the war, the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists resumed, and an exodus of foreigners began almost immediately. Jews left for Israel, America, Canada, Australia and other countries. Until 1948, there were about 10,000 Jews still living in Shanghai. By 1953, only 440 Jews remained, and by 1958 the number fell to 84. In 1976, there were only about 10 Jews in Shanghai. The last remaining Jew died in 1982.

5. Contemporary Period
In the 1980s, China began opening up to the West. Jewish businesspersons were among the many Westerners flocking to Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing.
Today, the Jewish communities of China consist primarily of those in Hong Kong, with about 3500; Shanghai, with about 1000; and Beijing, with at least 200. The Jewish descendents in Kaifeng number perhaps about 1000.

Hong Kong has a longstanding, permanent Jewish community as well as a transitory business one; the Shanghai and Beijing Jewish communities are mostly transitory business or government related people. Except for Kaifeng Jews, Jews are not considered, nor consider themselves, to be citizens of China.

The Chinese educated elite is fascinated by the similarities between the Jewish diaspora and overseas Chinese experiences, between Chinese and Jewish cultures. Many are knowledgeable of the Jewish experiences in China and are proud of their country’s role in providing a refuge for Jewish refugees from Nazism. Most Chinese are philo-Semitic, even admiring the Jewish people for those stereotypic qualities featured in Western anti-Semitic literature.

Jewish studies are flourishing in China, with formal programs in Jewish studies or Middle East studies in Shandong, Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Nanjing, Kaifeng and Kunming. Scholarly exchange programs with Israeli universities and with Jewish studies programs in the U.S.A. are common.
 

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This is proof that the Chinese philosophy is the most inclusive in the world. In nowhere else in the world did the Jewish community integrate so completely into the host society (but in nowhere else were Jews and Muslims perceived as indistinguishable - but that's another story).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Some well known Chinese Jews (or Jews with an association with China)

Ehud Olmert--- the former Prime Minister of Israel; his parents came to Israel from Harbin


Jacob Rosenfeld (aka "General Luo")- born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire--- served as the Minister of Health in the 1947 Provisional Communist Military Government of China under Mao Zedong


Sidney Rittenberg--- close confidant of Mao Tzedong and other leaders of China's revolution; he was first American citizen to join China's Communist Party; translator

Laurence Tribe---born in Shanghai--- one of the leading and most influential legal scholars in the United States


W. Michael Blumental- born in Germany; escaped to Shanghai during World War II- served as United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Jimmy Carter


Michael Kadoorie--- the 7th richest man in Hong Kong/Greater China


Sir Matthew Nathan- former British governor of Hong Kong; namesake of Nathan Road in HK


Silas Aaron Hardoon--- one of the wealthiest people in China in the early 20th century; he was largely associated with the development of Nanking Road in Shanghai


Nina Brosh--- Israeli actress/model (Russian Jewish father; Chinese mother)


Others
Hans Shippe--- writer, military figure; born in Europe but died in China during World War II; he was the first Jewish volunteer soldier to die in World War II defending China from the Japanese

The Sassoon Family--- one of the leading banking and merchant families in China in the 19th and 20th centuries

Ludwik Rajchman--- Polish-born bacteriologist who served as a medical advisor to Chiang Kai-Shek as well as an expert on China's National Economic Council in the 1930's and a representative of China to the United States; he was also one of the founders of UNICEF
 

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Sassoon ... from Wiki

"When the Treaty of Nanking opened up China to British traders, Sassoon developed his textile operations into a profitable triangular trade: Indian yarn and opium were carried to China, where he bought goods which were sold in Britain, where he obtained Lancashire cotton products."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sassoon

The Kadoories asnd Hardoons also came to riches through opium trade. They started as employees of the Sassoon opium trade.

What is also interesting are the connections all opium trading Jews have with the Rothschild either by marriage or by business partnership or both.

More about the Chinese Holocaust:

http://www.fourwinds10.com/siterun_data/history/asia/news.php?q=1234729944
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Kaifeng Jews

(For Chinese: http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/%E5%BC%80%E5%B0%81%E7%8A%B9%E5%A4%AA%E4%BA%BA)

The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community that has existed in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China, for hundreds of years. Jews in modern China have traditionally called themselves Youtai (犹太, from Judah) in Mandarin Chinese which is also the predominant contemporary Chinese language term for Jews in general. However, the community was known by their Han Chinese neighbors as adherents of Tiaojinjiao (挑筋教), meaning, loosely, the religion which removes the sinew (a reference to kashrut).
History

According to historical records, a Jewish community lived in Kaifeng from at least the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) until the late nineteenth century and Kaifeng was Northern Song's capital. It is surmised that the ancestors of the Kaifeng Jews came from Central Asia. It is also reported that in 1163 Ustad Leiwei was given charge of the religion (Ustad means teacher in Persian), and that they built a synagogue surrounded by a study hall, a ritual bath, a communal kitchen, a kosher butchering facility, and a sukkah.[2]

During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), a Ming emperor conferred seven surnames upon the Jews, by which they are identifiable today: Ai, Shi, Gao, Jin, Li, Zhang, and Zhao. By the beginning of the 20th c. one of these Kaifeng clans, the Zhang, had largely converted to Islam.[3] Interestingly, two of these: Jin and Shi are the equivalent of common Jewish names in the west: Gold and Stone.[4][5]

The existence of Jews in China was unknown to Europeans until 1605, when Matteo Ricci, then established in Beijing, was visited by a Jew from Kaifeng, who had come to Beijing to take examinations for his jinshi degree. According to his account in De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas,[6] his visitor, named Ai Tian (Ai T'ien) (艾田) explained that he worshipped one God. It is recorded that when he saw a Christian image of Mary with the child Jesus, he believed it to be a picture of Rebecca with Esau or Jacob, figures from Scripture. Ai said that many other Jews resided in Kaifeng; they had a splendid synagogue (禮拜寺 libai si) and possessed a great number of written materials and books.

About three years after Ai's visit, Ricci sent a Chinese Jesuit Lay Brother to visit Kaifeng; he copied the beginnings and ends of the holy books kept in the synagogue, which allowed Ricci to verify that they indeed were the same texts as the Pentateuch known to Europeans, except that they did not use Hebrew diacritics (which were a comparatively late invention).[7]

When Ricci wrote to the "ruler of the synagogue" in Kaifeng, telling him that the Messiah the Jews were waiting for had come already, the "Archsynagogus" wrote back, saying that the Messiah would not come for another ten thousand years. Nonetheless, apparently concerned with the lack of a trained successor, the old rabbi offered Ricci his position, if the Jesuit would join their faith and abstain from eating pork. Later, another three Jews from Kaifeng, including Ai's nephew, stopped by the Jesuits' house while visiting Beijing on business, and got themselves baptized. They told Ricci that the old rabbi had died, and (since Ricci had not taken up on his earlier offer), his position was inherited by his son, "quite unlearned in matters pertaining to his faith". Ricci's overall impression of the situation of China's Jewish community was that "they were well on the way to becoming Saracens [i.e., Muslims] or heathens."[7]

Later, a number of European Jesuits visited the Kaifeng community as well.

The Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s led to the dispersal of the community, but it later returned to Kaifeng. Three stelae with inscriptions were found at Kaifeng. The oldest, dating from 1489, commemorates the construction of a synagogue in 1163 (bearing the name 清真寺, Qīngzhēn Sì, a term often used for mosques in Chinese). The inscription states that the Jews came to China from India during the Han Dynasty period (2nd century BCE-2nd century CE). It cites the names of 70 Jews with Chinese surnames, describes their audience with an unnamed Song Dynasty emperor, and lists the transmission of their religion from Abraham down to the prophet Ezra. The second tablet, dating from 1512 (found in the synagogue Xuanzhang Daojing Si) details their Jewish religious practices. The third, dated 1663, commemorates the rebuilding of the Qingzhen si synagogue and repeats information that appears in the other two steles.[8]
Ink rubbings of the 1489 stele (left) and 1512 stele (right)

Two of the stelae refer to a famous tattoo written on the back of Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. The tattoo, which reads "Boundless loyalty to the country" (simplified Chinese: 尽忠报国; traditional Chinese: 盡忠報國; pinyin: jìn zhōng bào guó), first appeared in a section of the 1489 stele talking about the Jews’ “Boundless loyalty to the country and Prince”. The second appeared in a section of the 1512 stele talking about how Jewish soldiers and officers in the Chinese armies were “Boundlessly loyal to the country.”

Father Joseph Brucker, a Roman Catholic researcher of the early twentieth century, notes that Ricci's account of Chinese Jews indicates that there were only in the range of ten or twelve Jewish families in Kaifeng in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth centuries,[9] and that they had reportedly resided there for five or six hundred years. It was also stated in the manuscripts that there was a greater number of Jews in Hangzhou.[9] This could be taken to suggest that loyal Jews fled south along with the soon-to-be crowned Emperor Gaozong to Hangzhou. In fact, the 1489 stele mentions how the Jews "abandoned Bianliang" (Kaifeng) after the Jingkang Incident.
Earth Market Street, Kaifeng, 1910. The synagogue lay beyond the row of stores on the right

Despite their isolation from the rest of the Jewish diaspora, the Jews of Kaifeng preserved Jewish traditions and customs for many centuries. In the seventeenth century, assimilation began to erode these traditions. The rate of intermarriage between Jews and other ethnic groups, such as the Han Chinese, and the Hui and Manchu minorities in China, increased. The destruction of the synagogue in the 1860s led to the community's demise.[10] However, J.L. Liebermann, the first Western Jew to visit Kaifeng in 1867, noted that "they still had a burial ground of their own". S.M. Perlmann, the Shanghai businessman and scholar, wrote in 1912 that "they bury their dead in coffins, but of a different shape than those of the Chinese are made, and do not attire the dead in secular clothes as the Chinese do, but in linen".[11]

Today, 600-1,000 residents of Kaifeng trace their lineage back to this community.[10] After contact with Jewish tourists, the Jews of Kaifeng have reconnected to mainstream Jewry. With the help of Jewish organizations, some members of the community have emigrated to Israel.[10] In 2009, Chinese Jews from Kaifeng arrived in Israel as immigrants.[12][13][14]
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Could you post more info about Ehud Olmert's background? It's very interesting.
Here's what I could find:

http://www.china.org.cn/english/2004/Sep/106964.htm

A curtain of rain enveloped the solemn Huangshan (Royal Hill) Jewish Cemetery, located in an eastern suburb of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, on June 25, 2004. Praying in Hebrew and putting stones on the grave in accordance with Jewish tradition, Ehud Olmert, visiting Israeli vice premier and trade minister, paid his respects at the tomb of his grandfather.

Olmert's grandfather, J.J. Olmert, left war-torn Russia after World War I and went to Harbin, where he lived until 1941. J.J.'s son, Mordechai, grew up in the city and was one of the founders of the Betar, the Revisionist Zionist Youth Organization. He never forgot his Chinese hometown after moving to Israel in the early 1930s. "When he died at the age of 88, he spoke his last words in Chinese," recalled Ehud Olmert.

"Many Jews with the dream of Zionism rest in peace in the cemetery. Today I want to tell them in the capacity of a Jewish country's vice premier that their Zionist dream has come true," said Olmert as he stood before his grandfather's tomb.

Starting from the late 19th century, Jews fleeing czarist Russia's persecution flooded into Harbin, their population peaking at some 25,000 in the 1920s. The emigrants turned the city into the largest Jewish political, economic and cultural center in the Far East.

The Jewish cemetery was initially built in downtown Harbin in 1903. The municipal government and what was then the Jewish Religious Association together moved over 600 tombs in 1958 to Huangshan. "The 836-square-meter cemetery today holds 583 well-preserved graves, and is the biggest and best-protected Jewish cemetery in the Far East," said Li Shuxiao, deputy director of the Harbin Jews Research Center of the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

On September 2, 2004, a group of more than 100 Jews from Israel, the United States, Russia, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and France went to the cemetery to visit their relatives' graves. They were in the city to attend the International Seminar on Jewish History and Culture in Harbin, which opened on August 31 under the aegis of the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, the Israel-China Friendship Society, and the Association of Former Residents of China.

It was the second time Lily Klebanoff-Blake, from the United States, had come to visit the Huangshan cemetery. Her grandfather, a musician and one of the pioneer Jewish settlers of Harbin, arrived in the city around 1903 and opened a music store, making his contribution to what became, by the 1920s, a thriving music scene.

When she first visited his tomb in 1999, Klebanoff was pleased to see that her grandfather, who died in 1944, was buried under a blossoming tree with birds singing in the branches. She told the cemetery's manager, "My grandfather was a musician and he must feel happy to be buried under the tree with wonderful singing birds."

While his wife made rubbings from the somewhat eroded inscriptions on the tombstone, Henry M. Strage, from London, displayed his family tree in front of his grandfather's tomb. Strage's grandfather fled Russia in 1903 and walked to what was then Manchuria. In 1905 he went to Harbin to open a small shop engaging in the fur trade. By then, his entire family of ten brothers and sisters were all living in Harbin. Strage's grandfather, who died in 1945, was buried in the city, as were two of his sisters. The rest went to the United States, Canada and Australia.

"After all these years I'm very happy to be able to leave some stones on my grandfather's grave to show we were here," said Strage. "It's very nice for the city to make such a beautiful cemetery for the people who lived here many years ago. Everybody appreciates it and feels grateful to come to this nice place to pay respects to his or her relatives.

"I have ten grandchildren. In the years ahead they might come here as well to say hello to their forefathers," said Strage.

Paul Agran, from the United States, was born in Harbin in 1922. His family's history in Harbin can be traced back to 1905, when his grandparents moved to the city.

Agran's father, a businessman, still lived in Ukraine. It normally took him 80 days to accompany a shipment of grain to China and return. "One day he told my mother at home, 'It's ridiculous. Your parents are already in China, and the Chinese are wonderful people. Let's move to China!' So they came to Harbin sometime in 1911."

However, Agran has only a blurred memory of his father, since he was just five years old when the elder Agran died. Burdened with the responsibility of feeding his family, Agran started to work for an American company at the age of 16. He worked and attended night classes at Harbin Technical Institute -- predecessor of today's Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) -- for more than four years.

Agran met and eventually married his wife, Esther, in Harbin, and the couple had their first daughter just before they left the city in 1949.

Agran was not to return to his hometown for the next 55 years. "I'm an old man now," he said. "The main reason to come back is that I want to visit the Huangshan cemetery, where we buried my grandfather, grandmother, father, uncles, aunts, and other relatives -- seven or eight people altogether."

Esther Agran reminded her husband that he likes to tell people his tale of fishing on the Songhua River more than half a century ago.

When he was young, recalled Agran, fishing was his favorite pastime. Once, after spending an entire day fishing on the Songhua River, he suddenly realized it had grown dark. Fluent in Chinese at that time, Agran rowed to a nearby farmhouse and asked the peasant there if he could spend the night, since it was too late to return to the city. The man welcomed him without hesitation.

"Once inside, I found the peasant was in straitened circumstances. Except for a heatable adobe bed, which was called a kang in northern Chinese dialect, there was nothing but four bare walls in the house."

Agran said that despite his obvious poverty, the peasant did everything he could to serve a hearty breakfast of sorghum the following morning. He firmly refused Agran's attempt to give him some money.

As he left, Agran saw the peasant's six-year-old daughter playing in the courtyard. Putting some money in her hand, he told her to give it to her father.

He walked about two kilometers before the peasant caught up with him.

"Gasping for breath, he apologized for his 'badly-behaved' daughter first, and then put the money back in my hand. What made that poor and uneducated peasant who was in deadly need of help so generous and selfless? And why?" asked Agran.

Agran pauses, and then answers himself: "I guess we can only seek clues from the 5,000 years of culture that has been deeply inscribed in every Chinese heart and mind.

"Whenever people ask me why I can get along with the Chinese so well, I always tell them this story."
 

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Jews are highly respected in China, in fact, admired. If you go to any major bookstore in a Chinese city, you'd find a whole section of books about jewish wisdom. Whereas there's little publication about, say, Janpanese wisdom, British wisdom or American wisdom,etc. :tongue4:The link below will show you some examples, actually alot of.
http://s8.taobao.com/search?q=%D3%CC%CC%AB%C8%CB&pid=mm_10011550_2325296_9002527&unid=0&mode=63
The word Jewish is almost equivalent to intelligent in Chinese :)
 

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It is fascinating to me to see people "discover" that there are and have been Jews in China.

It is a subject that has fascinated me since I majored in Chinese Studies years ago.

I look forward to adding thoughts to this thread but, in the meantime, I wanted to let everyone know about the Sino-Judaic Institute, a US based organization of which I am currently the president. We have a good website on all things Jewish and Chinese (www.sino-judaic.org) and a hard copy journal, Points East.

We welcome your interest and involvement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If anyone didn't see these interviews with Sydney Rittenberg who was a close confidant of Mao Tzedong and other leaders of China's revolution; he was first American citizen to join China's Communist Party), I would recommend it. It's very interesting to hear a foreigner's insiders perspective on modern China.
 

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Jews are highly respected in China, in fact, admired. If you go to any major bookstore in a Chinese city, you'd find a whole section of books about jewish wisdom. Whereas there's little publication about, say, Janpanese wisdom, British wisdom or American wisdom,etc. :tongue4:The link below will show you some examples, actually alot of.
http://s8.taobao.com/search?q=%D3%CC%CC%AB%C8%CB&pid=mm_10011550_2325296_9002527&unid=0&mode=63
The word Jewish is almost equivalent to intelligent in Chinese :)
Could you write the words, please? Thank you!:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jews are highly respected in China, in fact, admired. If you go to any major bookstore in a Chinese city, you'd find a whole section of books about jewish wisdom. Whereas there's little publication about, say, Janpanese wisdom, British wisdom or American wisdom,etc. :tongue4:The link below will show you some examples, actually alot of.
http://s8.taobao.com/search?q=%D3%CC%CC%AB%C8%CB&pid=mm_10011550_2325296_9002527&unid=0&mode=63
The word Jewish is almost equivalent to intelligent in Chinese :)
Oh wow! That's very cool! Thank you for sharing this!

Xie'xie! :D

I feel the same way about the Chinese. Actually, a few of my relatives have done business in China (including Taiwan), Hong Kong and Singapore in various capacities (my grandfather as a diplomat in the 1950's) and my father, uncle and cousins (business/trade) and they all were very, very impressed by the people met.

I think there's quite a few similarities between Chinese and Jewish people in terms of our historical (and modern) contributions to the world as well as many shared values (e.g., of education).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It is fascinating to me to see people "discover" that there are and have been Jews in China.

It is a subject that has fascinated me since I majored in Chinese Studies years ago.

I look forward to adding thoughts to this thread but, in the meantime, I wanted to let everyone know about the Sino-Judaic Institute, a US based organization of which I am currently the president. We have a good website on all things Jewish and Chinese (www.sino-judaic.org) and a hard copy journal, Points East.

We welcome your interest and involvement.
Thank you very much HaSini for this link. It looks very interesting. :D

:cheers:
 
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