culture/multiculturalism · Israel · jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

"Going home!"

Sniffle…. Chinese Jews from Kaifeng arrive in Israel 2009 – a moving documentary…. Sniffle.

Yeah, I cried. Hold on, I’m still tearing up.
I’ve listed many of the articles on this particular group in previous “conversion news roundups” but the articles did nothing to capture the sense of awe you get that this group of Chinese Jews feels at finally arriving in Israel.

Welcome home!
For more information on the organization that helped them get to Israel, check out: Shavei Israel
And a happy Thanksgiving to all!

9 thoughts on “"Going home!"

  1. As an Asian Studies specialist I've been reading about KaiFeng for decades so this is just amazing to me. Did you know that Pearl Buck wrote a novel about Chinese Jews at the time the community was falling apart? It's called “Peony.”

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  2. Back in the 90's when I was visiting universities to check them out for graduate school, a college student came up to me to tell me very earnestly that he had heard about the Jews of Kaifeng and was really excited to finally meet one. I was sorry to disappoint him, but although I am visibly Chinese and one might assume that I was Jewish since I had come by myself for Kabbalat Shabbat at the U.T. Austin Hillel, I do not know of any family connection that I might have to the Jews of Kaifeng. I told him that most Chinese Jews he would meet in this country would be converts. (I didn't explain that at the time I wasn't even a convert, even though I had been attending shul for 10 years and had been married to a Jew for 7 years—but I didn't want to go into that.) Nowadays, I would add that Chinese Jews might be adoptees, or perhaps have one Chinese and one Jewish parent or have a Chinese parent who converted or simply have another story, but are still unlikely to be from Kaifeng. (I know people who are in each of the above categories except for Kaifeng Jews.)

    Thank you, jrotem, for mentioning the Pearl Buck novel. When I was in high school, I read and loved several of her books, but that was before I had any interest in Judaism. So I will look for “Peony”. Even though I am Chinese and Jewish in different ways than the Kaifeng Jews are since I am an American Born Chinese and I converted to Judaism without any known family connections, I feel a kind of connection to the community because we share that somewhat unusual combination of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

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  3. Funny enough a lot of the ways they respond are also the same kinds of responses you get when you try to talk to someone about racism. They question your knowledge on the subject, they question your 'sensitivity' on the issue, etc. Basically, they try to turn it around on you, it's your problem, not theirs that you think what they're doing is racist.

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  4. PS: they also have a whole anti-anusim series (check under Anusim), which would probably amount to tinly veiled contempt towards latinos…

    I once wrote that spain has a higher GNP and average income than Israel: they didn't like it at all…

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  5. Well, the anti-immigration stuff isn't only an American problem. It's pretty bad in Israel, too. I mean, even American converts have trouble getting into Israel…do we really think American converts are leaving a terrible situation for a better life in Israel?

    If someone learns enough about Judaism, Israel becomes very important and so of course, many converts want to make aliyah but they can only do so under suspicion of their motives.

    And it's not always just racism, it's also class. They want only highly skilled workers from select countries. But of course, they don't want any immigrants stealing their jobs–low wage or high wage. “We must keep those foreign workers out!” is something I hear Americans and Israelis mutter.

    And it just goes on and on and on….

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