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Asian Jews Gather Near China’s Great Wall

Jews from throughout Asia gathered near the Great Wall of China to learn about their Judaism.

The Limmud International program, also supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, brought nearly 100 Jews from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, the Philippines, Japan, and Singapore, as well as Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States, for Sunday’s program.

It is the first Limmud event in China, which joins 60 communities on five continents in holding the open Jewish learning program.

Participants chose from a number of sessions, including Torah and Talmud text study; the role of women in Jewish community life; Chinese interest in Jews and Jewish communities; the history of the Bene Israel in India; the future of Jewish life in Asia, and a workshop on Asian-Jewish cooking.

There are an estimated 20,000 Jews in East Asia. In China, up to 6,000 Jews can be found on the mainland and more than 4,000 Jews in Hong Kong. Asia is made up of long-standing, organized Jewish communities – like those in India, Hong Kong, and Tokyo – and newer, smaller communities of corporate executives, entrepreneurs, managers, diplomats, and teachers in international schools and colleges. Many Jewish organizations are already active in Asia.

“This inaugural Limmud event in China is a powerful tribute to the determination of Jews throughout Asia to engage with Jewish learning and with Jewish community, overcoming vast distances and other hurdles,” said Limmud International Co-Chair, Dr. Helena Miller.

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