China’s Ancient Jewish Enclave

A New York Times travel story visits the few remaining but active Jews in Kaifeng, Henan:

Earlier, Ms. Guo had brought us into a narrow courtyard at 21 Teaching Torah Lane — an alley once central to the city’s Jewish community, and still home to her 85-year-old grandmother, Zhao Cui, widow of a descendant of Chinese Jews. Her one-room house has been turned into a sort of dusty display case, with Mrs. Zhao as centerpiece.

“Here are the Kaifeng Jews,” Ms. Guo said, a little defiantly. “We are they.”

We were surrounded by signs that supported Ms. Guo’s statement: A mezuza was attached to the door frame. A copy of the Sh’ma, widely considered the most important of Hebrew prayers, decorated with Chinese lettering, hung on the wall. A menorah sat by a Chinese-style altar displaying a black-and-white portrait of Mr. Zhao.

Indeed, some 50 descendants of Kaifeng’s Jews are embracing this legacy and relearning Jewish ways. And a few, like Ms. Guo, are tapping a quirky vein of religious tourism.

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