The Schmooze

A Jew in Mao's China

Even when I have been disenfranchised from God and synagogue, I have always been culturally proud to be a Jew. A source of that pride is the Jewish tradition of helping the oppressed, and our involvement in social movements such as labor and civil rights.

Until I saw the documentary “The Revolutionary” at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, I mistakenly thought that China during the revolutionary period was one country that had not felt the Jewish embrace. In fact, 85 to 90% of the foreigners helping the Chinese at the time of the Communist takeover were Jewish. This included the daughter of the founder of the brokerage firm Goldman Sachs, who left the comfort of her Park Avenue home to assist the Chinese.

“The Revolutionary” tells the story of Southern-born Sidney Rittenberg, the only American that has ever been admitted to the Chinese Communist Party. The Mandarin-speaking Rittenberg, who was initially sent to China by the U.S. Army at the time of Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II, became an influential advisor to Mao Zedong and to the first premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Enlai. His pivotal role at the Broadcast Authority, explaining the Communist Chinese point of view to America, earned him a higher salary than Chairman Mao.

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A Jew in Mao's China

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