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Israel & Christians Today

Biblical understanding about Israel

March 23, 2016

Five Chinese Jewish women make Aliyah 

By Michael Freund

Recently five young Chinese Jewish women received permission to return to Israel from the Israeli government. Christians for Israel supported their return to their ancient homeland through Shavei Israel. The women finally arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on the 29th of February.

The five women join seven young Chinese Jewish men whom Shavei Israel helped make Aliyah in 2009. A total of 19 members of the Kaifeng Jewish community have come to Israel.

It’s been a long road getting to this point. “We’ve been struggling for 3-4 years to get the requisite permission to bring these young women here,” Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund told Israel National News TV reporter Yoni Kempinski at Ben-Gurion Airport. “I’ve spent a lot of time nudging and cajoling and lobbying bureaucrats, Knesset members and ministers. But thank G-d finally the permission came and they’ve come home.”

Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport 

Photocredit: Laura Ben-David

History of the Kaifeng Jews
Jews have lived in Kaifeng since the 8th or 9th century, the result of Jewish merchants from Iraq or Persia who traveled to China along the ancient Silk Road. The community once had a large and beautiful synagogue, rabbis and its own Torah scrolls. At its height, the Jewish community numbered up to 5,000 people.

But after widespread intermarriage and assimilation, and the death of the community’s last rabbi, today there are only about 100 active members of the Jewish community in Kaifeng who continue to observe Jewish customs. Still, there are close to 1,000 people “who are identifiable as descendants of the Jewish community via family trees,” Freund pointed out.

Emotional moments

Reporters from numerous media outlets, local and from around the world, were waiting in the arrivals hall to watch history in the making, as the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng slowly makes its way home to Israel. Following the high emotions at the airport, the women, along with Shavei Israel representatives including Michael Freund, drove to the Western Wall (the Kotel). With brand new Hebrew siddurim (prayer books) in hand, each with a personal dedication inside, the women prayed at Judaism’s holiest spot and placed notes between the stones.

Praying at the Western Wall
Photocredit: Laura Ben-David

The five women at the Western Wall, with Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund
Photocredit: Laura Ben-David

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