From a Village in China to the Wedding Canopy in Jerusalem
For the first time, a Chinese Jewish couple will get married Wednesday in accordance with the Law of Moses (Halakha) under a wedding canopy in Jerusalem.
Shlomo and Dina Jin are descendants of the Jewish community that existed for nearly a thousand years in Kaifeng, China. With the help of the Shavei Israel organization, the Jins recently completed their conversion back to Judaism by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, and will be getting married at 5:30 PM at Heichal Shlomo, 58 King George Street, Jerusalem. “This marks the closing of an historical circle,” said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Nearly 200 years after the Kaifeng Jewish community essentially ceased to exist, two of its offspring will be joining together in matrimony under a Jewish wedding canopy in Jerusalem. This is a moving event, and it symbolizes the indestructible spirit of the Jewish people and their desire to return.” Shlomo and Dina Jin with daughter Shalva at the Jerusalem Beit Din (Court)
The Jins’ daughter Shalva, who converted with her parents, recently completed a year of volunteer national service (Sherut Leumi) at the Shaarei Zedek Medical Center. Jews first settled in Kaifeng over 1,000 years ago. At its peak, under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the community may have numbered as many as 5,000 people. But by the middle of the 1800’s, assimilation and intermarriage had taken a heavy toll, weakening the community spiritually and numerically. The last rabbi of Kaifeng died sometime in the first half of the 19th century; a few decades later, the synagogue and the community it had served were no more. Until today, however, there are still some 500 people in Kaifeng who continue to cling to a Jewish identity. Shavei Israel is a Jerusalem-based organization that reaches out and assists “lost Jews”? seeking to return to the Jewish people. Under the ongoing supervision of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel, Shavei Israel works with various groups around the world, such as the Bnei Menashe of northeastern India, who claim descent from a lost tribe of Israel, the Bnai Anousim (Marranos?) of Spain, Portugal and South America, as well as with the Subbotnik Jews of Russia.