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I mean, I know China’s a big country, but really?

According to an article written by Daniel J. Elazar, there are four distinctly traceable groups of Jews in China, the largest of which are the Kaifeng:

The city of Kaifeng, located approximately 300 miles from Beijing, contains the remnants of a Jewish community which flourished in the city from about the ninth to the seventeenth centuries, and which continued to be identifiably Jewish until the 1840s. The origins of the community are unclear, although they appear to be derived from an invitation extended by a Sung Dynasty emperor to a group of Jews to settle and manufacture cotton fabrics in Kaifeng, which at that time was the imperial capital. Approximately 1000 Jews responded as a group and formed a community, which reached its peak in the Middle Ages, when Jews from Western and Southern Asia (principally Iran, Afghanistan and India of today) were actively involved in the China trade. They settled in at least six other cities throughout China, including Beijing in the seventeenth century.

While merchant and refugee communities flourished from the turn of the century up until World War II, China lost a significant number of Jews during the Communist takeover of 1949. At one point, the peak population reached over 30,000!

You might be wondering, what does this have to do with sustainability? Well, just last week scientists determined that China surpassed the United States in CO2 emissions – a whopping 14 years ahead of the predicted schedule. Yikes. If by some miracle any Chinese Jews come across this post, I implore you, try not to pollute so much, k? We at Pitaron Park would greatly appreciate it.

For a more expansive history on Jewish populations in China, check these sites out:

(image borrowed from Oy Bay!)

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