2017-01-18 / Voice at the Shore

How about Chinese food, in China?

Executive Director Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties

Have you ever crossed the International Dateline, dreamed of visiting the Forbidden City, or imagined yourself playing Blackjack in a Hong Kong casino? Well, now is your chance, on Jewish Federation’s Tour of Jewish Marvels in China May 28 to June 8th. Wait, you say? There are Jews in China?

Jewish settlement in China began in small numbers as early as the 8th century, and continued through to the 19th century. During the 19th century, Jewish merchants and their families began settling in larger numbers in Hong Kong, principally from Britain, and in the French Concession (Shanghai) from France and other parts of Europe. Following the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) in Russia, thousands of Jews fled to China, and, during the Holocaust, China became home to more than twenty thousand European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

Today, China’s Jewish community numbers more than eight thousand. Two-thirds of China’s Jews live in Hong Kong, and two-thirds of the total community is made up of Israelis and Americans.

Our mission to China will take us to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and regions in between, including visits to the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors.

We will tour Tiananmen Square, Old Peking, and the Forbidden City in Beijing, visit the city’s Jewish day school, meet with Israel’s ambassador to China at the Embassy of Israel, and enjoy many of the great cultural and historical attractions of this ancient city, including a rickshaw ride or two!

In Shanghai, we will visit the city’s Center for Jewish Studies, synagogues, and the former Jewish ghetto, home to more than twenty thousand refugees during the Holocaust. We will visit the Panda Zoo, enjoy an amazing laser lightshow while cruising down the Whangpu River, tour the famous Suzhou Gardens, a replica of which is housed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and enjoy a thrilling performance of the Chinese Acrobatic Circus, to name a few of the attractions.

Our visit to Hong Kong will explore its rich British Colonial and Jewish histories, including dinner at the city’s famed Jewish Club, and will also include the eclectic and bustling sights and sounds of Stanley Market, Kadoorie Road, fabulous shopping and custom tailoring, and the incredible views from Victoria Peak of the city, its beautiful harbor, and much more.

Sure to be an unforgettable experience because of the incredible places we will see, amazing things we will do, interesting things we will learn, and the fabulous and authentic food we will enjoy, it will mean all the more because we will do it together, as a Jewish community immersed in another culture, while reveling in the common experience and traditions of Jews wherever they live.

Why not be Jewish in China, even if only for twelve days, and why not say you have tasted the real food of China, even if some of it has a Jewish “tam.” You are sure to be amazed, and who knows, maybe even thrilled by an experience we will share together.

For more information on Jewish Federation’s Tour of Jewish Marvels to China, please see our ad in this issue, and please call me at (609) 822- 4404, or e-mail me at kirk@jewishbytheshore.org. 

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