A year ago they were living by the bank of China’s Yellow River. Now, the seven yarmulke-and-tzitzit-clad young men, sitting in central Jerusalem and chatting about their lives, are Israel’s keenest yeshiva students.
It is the end of July, the day after the Fast of Av, when every yeshiva halts for summer break — but this group won’t stop.
They come from a community that has fascinated Jews for centuries — China’s Kaifeng Jewish community. Jews are said to have settled in China in the eighth or ninth century. It is believed that at one point, there were as many as 5,000 Jews in Kaifeng; however the community disintegrated in the mid-19th century, with the death of its last rabbi, and those members that hadn’t done so already intermarried and dropped most aspects of religious observance.
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