China's judaists (Sino-Judaica)

9.26: news.relig/judiasm/China's judaists (Sino-Judaica):
27: summary:
. Jewish life in China is not doing so well;
but there is much more freedom of travel now
between Israel and China.

Michael Freund 2016-09-08:
The first Jews are believed to have settled in
Kaifeng, in the 7th or 8th century CE.
They were Sephardic Jews from Persia or Iraq
who traveled along the Silk Road
and received the Chinese emperor’s blessing,
to reside in Kaifeng, which at the time
was an imperial capital of the Song dynasty.

[Many Jewish communities were established in China
in the Middle Ages. known today:
Kaifeng, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Yangzhou, and Ningxia.]

Subsequently, China provided its Jews with
a comfortable home, free of the anti-Semitism
that plagued the Diaspora elsewhere.

[. in the 9th century
A pogrom occurred in the Guangzhou Massacre,
during the Huang Chao Rebellion.]

In 1163, Kaifeng’s Jews built a beautiful synagogue,
which was subsequently renovated and rebuilt
numerous times after a series of floods.

But by the middle of the 1800s,
widespread assimilation and intermarriage
had all but erased their practice of Judaism.
. after the last rabbi of the community died
Kaifeng’s Jewish community effectively disbanded.
[During the Taiping rebellion of the 1850s,
the Jews of Kaifeng apparently suffered a great deal
and were dispersed. they returned to Kaifeng,
yet continued to be small in number and to face hardships,
as is recorded in the early 20th century.
. however, in the period of 1845 to 1945
more than 40,000 Jews came to China, especially Shanghai,
for business development or safe haven from Europeans;
then in 1949 after communism came to China,
many of their Jewish moved to Israel.]

Communist China has five authorized religions:
Buddhism, Taoism, and Judaic foreigners:
Catholicism, Islam, and Protestantism.
However, since the 1980s
Judaism was unofficially tolerated.]

[. for over 30 years,
Sino-Judaic Institute has been a pioneer
in the field of Chinese-Jewish relations,
studying Jewish life in Shanghai,
Harbin, Tianjin, Hong Kong and elsewhere
in the 19th and 20th centuries; and,
working with authorities to promote tourism
to Kaifeng and other cities
and to make current exhibits on the Jews of China
more accessible to the public.]

For more than a decade [since 2005?],
Shavei Israel has assisted the Kaifeng Jews:
they have brought some 20 Chinese Jews
on aliyah [moving to Israel],
and published materials on Jewish topics.

. in 2010, Shavei Israel opened its own
Jewish center in Kaifeng
where the Chinese Jews could learn about
Jewish culture and values -- and festivals.

The center operated until Passover 2014,
when local authorities raided it,
ordering the removal of the mezuzot
[parchment with Hebrew verses]
and all signs of Hebrew words.
and the closure of the site of the well
which served as the community’s historic
mikveh [ritual bathing].
In some instances,
Jewish tour groups from abroad
have been prohibited from visiting the city.

March 27, 2016:
. China made a 10-year multiple entry visa agreement
making the Jewish state only the third country,
after the United States and Canada,
to have such an arrangement with Beijing.
. it allows Israeli business people and tourists
to enter China multiple times with the same visa,
which will be valid for a decade.
Chinese citizens can easily visit Israel too.