18 March 2011

Hong Kong: 'Asian Jewish Life' - new issue online

When Tracing the Tribe visited Hong Kong last year, we met a wonderful group of people, including US expat Erica Lyons, the publisher of Asian Jewish Life.

Erica just informed me that she is helping to get the story out on the situation in Japan and also working on the memoirs of a fascinating woman.

Read the stories by Erica about a Japanese Jewish family living in Hong Kong here and here. The Brenner family - the focus of these stories - also has a blog called the Hitachi Naka City Earthquake Recovery Blog. It is designed to raise awareness and eventually be a conduit for aid to Mayumi Brenner's hometown.

Asian Jewish Life also has a Facebook page, detailing Asian Jewish happenings, information on Japan's Jewish community and how they are coping with the aftermath of the immense earthquake, and other information.

The current issue of AJL is online with several articles of specific interest to Tracing the Tribe readers and genealogists. Click Asian Jewish Life to see the new issue.

One story is by Amelia Alsop who directs the Hong Kong Heritage Project. On my visit to Hong Kong, I visited the Project office, met Amelia and other staff members and was very impressed with what they are accomplishing.

The Kadoorie Family, Sephardi Jews, emigrated from Baghdad in 1880 to settle in the Far East. The family fortunes were founded by Sir Elly Kadoorie and Sir Ellis Kadoorie, who were pivotal players in the development of business giants such as the Hongkong Shanghai Hotel Co. and China Light and Power. Elly's sons, Lord Lawrence Kadoorie and Sir Horace Kadoorie continued the family businesses and philanthropic pursuits. The family is today headed by Lawrence's son, Sir Michael Kadoorie.

In May 2007, Sir Michael founded the Hong Kong Heritage Project (HKHP). The HKHP is the first of its kind in Hong Kong; a project supported and driven by business with the purpose of preserving community history. The HKHP does this by promoting new avenues of research, enriching Hong Kong's existing archival collection, encouraging young people to participate in the preservation of their community history and capturing unrepresented voices in Hong Kong's historical narrative through the collection of oral history. The HKHP is housed in an archive facility in Kowloon which holds 3,100 Kadoorie related records, as well as 550 filmed oral history interviews.
Read The Lost Records Revealed - the Hong Kong Heritage Project's Jewish Collection.

For a look at modern Kaifeng in China - where an ancient Jewish community once flourished and where its remnants are once again learning about their heritage - read Yair Osherovich's story.

...While I asked myself these questions and searched for proof, I already knew the answers. Like my intention to help for the right reasons, these Jewish descendents had pure intentions too. There were plenty of reinforcements for my belief: the seriousness of Tzuri when he made Kiddush, the holding to the Yom Kippur fast despite how very organized and serious the Chinese are about their timetable for meals, and the communal effort to build the sukkah. It was the first sukkah in the town in 100 years. I see proof in the money that these families spend on Friday night meals and the bustle and scents that Shabbat brings as if it was a neighborhood in Jerusalem. Most of all the determination stands out. I see them thrive for knowledge. They listen carefully and absorb all the Jewish knowledge they can.

This has all reinforced my motivation to return to Kaifeng to help out for a third time. It is hard to stay indifferent to the donations they have collected on their own for the rehabilitation of the Carmel Forest. It is hard to stay indifferent to the warmness they treat every Jew and it is hard to stay indifferent to the pride that belonging to the broader Jewish community gives to them.
Read the rest of this story here.

For a long and excellent article, with beautiful photographs, by Dr. Shalva Weill, detailing Southern India's synagogues and trade, read "In An Ancient Land," click here.

See the new issue's table of contents for more.

Thank you, Erica, for Asian Jewish Life.

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