Chinese Jewish descendants start a new life in Israel


(Courtesy of Shavi Israel)

Seven Chinese people with Jewish roots landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday to start a new life in Israel, becoming the largest such group to ever arrive here.

The group from Kaifeng, in eastern China, was taken to Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in the north, where they will attend Hebrew enrichment (ulpan) classes.

A group of four girls from Kaifeng previously studied Hebrew on the kibbutz in 2007-2008. Two of the arrivals from Kaifeng – which in the Middle Ages had had a 5,000-member Jewish community – speak basic Hebrew and two others speak English.

“Though the community disappeared, some Kaifeng Jews passed on Jewish traditions to their descendants, who are now exploring their roots,” said Michael Freund, the New York-born chairman of Shavei Israel, the Jerusalem-based organization that brought the Kaifeng seven to Israel in the framework of its efforts to help people of Jewish origins back into Judaism’s fold

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