Friday, March 4, 2016

Five young Chinese women arrive in Israel to make aliyah

1And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
Deuteronomy 30:1-5

As reported by Alexander J. Apfel of Tazpit News Service, February 29, 2016:

Five Chinese women, descended from the medieval Jewish community of Kaifeng, are set to arrive in Israel on Monday. The women, Gao Yichen (“Weiwei”), Yue Ting, Li Jing, Li Yuan, and Li Chengjin (“Lulu”), have studied Hebrew and Judaism to prepare themselves for their journey, as they return to the heritage of their ancestors.

Upon their arrival, the five women will visit the Western Wall before making their way to Midreshet Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, where they will prepare for their official conversion to Judaism under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

The women will live in the seminary until the completion of their conversion, after which they will receive Israeli citizenship.

Kaifeng’s Jewish community is believed to have been founded by Iraqi or Persian Jewish merchants in the eighth or ninth century. A synagogue was erected there in 1163 that still stands today. According to estimates, the community consisted of up to 5,000 Jews during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) but decreased to 500-1000 due to wide-scale assimilation and intermarriage.

According to Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel organization responsible for bringing the women to Israel, the Kaifeng community was similar to other Jewish communities except that it did not suffer anti-Semitism.

“As a result, beginning perhaps in the 18th century, a process of assimilation and intermarriage began to settle in. Then, the last rabbi of Kaifeng passed away 200 years ago, and the synagogue was rendered unfit for use when a series of floods struck the city in the 19th century,” Freund told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

However, Freund said that close to 1,000 remain who are identifiable as descendants of the Jewish community and who have shown increasing interest in learning about Judaism and their heritage. Such interest has enabled Freund’s organization to bring many Chinese to Israel, the last group of seven men arriving in October 2009.

Freund further explained that around 25 years ago, Jews were given the option of registering either as regular Han Chinese or, for unknown reasons, as Muslims. “Many opted to register as Muslims since this enabled them to have more than one child, but they are still identifiable as descendants of Jews even if some of them have nothing to do with Judaism,” Freund said.

“Being part of the Jewish people is an honor because of the heritage and wisdom,” said Li Jing, who on a previous visit put a note of prayer in the Kotel asking to return and live in Israel. “Now, my prayer has been answered,” she said.
Funny, they don't look Jewish.

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