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Posted by / 24-Oct-2017 02:25

China has a long and storied Jewish history dating back to at least the eighth century.Many Jews also came to China seeking refuge from Nazi Europe.Most evidence supports the theory that a significant number of Jews, hundreds or perhaps thousands, migrated from Persia to Kaifeng some time during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).Some historians believe the Jews of Kaifeng originated in Bukhara, a city in Uzbekistan that was once part of Persia.Before the perfection of maritime navigational techniques, it was the primary route of trade between China and its eastern neighbors.Different routes of the Silk Road took goods and people from China to India, to Persia, to Arabia, and to the Mediterranean Coast, which then connected to Europe and Africa.While the pillar states that the Jewish community arrived during the Song Dynasty, it does not state what year or the name of the Emperor.The city of Kaifeng was ravaged in 1127 by Jurchen invaders, who conquered most of Northern China, forcing the remains of the Song dynasty to flee south, where a new Song Emperor continued to rule over Southern China from Hangzhou.

While most Arabs and Persians could not speak Russian, Greek, or Italian, Jews in Persia, Arabia, and Europe all knew enough Hebrew to communicate with each other.The Jews, who kept giving their children Hebrew names for their first eight or nine generations in China, kept their religion yet immersed themselves in Chinese culture and society.Perhaps no two cultural groups revere scholarship more than the Jews and the Chinese, and this common bond perhaps made the Jews feel at home.Yet the Jewish community in Kaifeng always had fond memories of the Song Dynasty, and continued using the Song calendar even after the Jin took control, as the synagogue dedication pillar was dedicated using the Song calendar date to write the year 1163.Due to the war with the Mongols in the North, the Jin moved their capital to Kaifeng in 1214, where it remained until the Jin dynasty fell to the Mongol in 1233.

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After the attack on Kaifeng, the city was taken by the Jurchens and became part of the Jin Dynasty, when it lost the prestige of being a capital.