From the Great Wall to the Western Wall: China's Yeshiva Students

Seven Chinese Jews have come to Israel to study at a Jerusalem Yeshiva who are so keen they won't even take a deserved summer vacation.

The Forward
Nathan Jeffay
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The Forward
Nathan Jeffay

A year ago they were living by the bank of Chinas Yellow River. Now, the seven yarmulke-and-tzitzit-clad young men, sitting in central Jerusalem and chatting about their lives, are Israels keenest yeshiva students.

A small sign on Teaching Torah Lane in China's Jewish community .Credit: Retuers

It is the end of July, the day after the Fast of Av, when every yeshiva halts for summer break — but this group wont stop.

They come from a community that has fascinated Jews for centuries — Chinas 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 hadnt done so already intermarried and dropped most aspects of religious observance.

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