Oct 17th 2016

Jewish Diaspora in Modern China (Coursera)

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Jewish Diaspora in China is a unique experience for world Jewry, as China is the only country in Far East that has had Jews living in its society for over 1,000 years. Documentary evidence shows that Jews started to live in China no later than the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The famous Kaifeng Jewish community, which was established in Kaifeng, the Chinese capital of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), is but a best-known example.

However, the largest Jewish Diaspora in China appeared in modern times. In over 100 years, from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, about 40,000 Jews came to China and lived in newly-established major port cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Harbin. Jewish communities composed of these Jews became an essential part of the economic and social life of those modern Chinese cities. What brought such a large number of Jews to China? Where did these people come from? How did they arrive? Were they all in China at the same time, and were there any differences among them? What happened to them after they arrived? Where are they now? The story of Jews in modern China is certainly a fascinating and up-lifting one. This course will examine these questions and more.