10 March 2007

The changing face of Judaism

Jewish genealogy in the future will have a growing Asian component.

According to an interesting story in the New York Times, there are no comprehensive statistics on the number of Chinese children who have been adopted by Jewish families. However, from 1991-1994, 1,300 were adopted, while from 1995-1999, some 17,000 arrived. According to the State Department, some 44,000 have been adopted since then.

Fu Qian, renamed Cecelia Nealon-Shapiro at 3 months, was one of the first Chinese children — most of them girls — taken in by American families after China opened its doors to international adoption in the early 1990s. Now, at 13, she is one of the first to complete the rite of passage into Jewish womanhood known as bat mitzvah.

She will not be the last. Across the country, many Jewish girls like her will be studying their Torah portions, struggling to master the plaintive singsong of Hebrew liturgy and trying to decide whether to wear Ann Taylor or a traditional Chinese outfit to the after-party."

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