intermarriage and assimilation can change a people. open and accepting societies can draw people away from their orthodoxy. individual’s sharing much of a society’s values find lesser value holding onto their core and feel comfortable abandoning their culture.
immigrants to new societies will search within them to find their values and interests. in the united states, asian immigrants found that jewish immigrants share many of their core values. reverence of parents, the desire to marry and have a family, and embracing of education/learning overlap. to no surprise, many asians have embraced judaism via intermarriage or conversion. likewise, many jewish families have adopted asian children. as such, there is an emerging chinese jewish presence. in my family, the next generation includes both half chinese and full chinese. all of them have been already bar and bat mitzahed.
participation in two ancient cultures can be challenging. in big cities, each community has their own local areas for food, sundry items and institutions. in this next generation, phrases such as “i need my asian fix” or “i need my jewish fix” are made when voices their choice of destination. their fulfillment requests these multi-culture interactions.
on the other side of the world, the ancient kaifeng jewish community is struggling. for an extended period of time, they enjoyed an outer society that was accepting. thus, their population suffered. more recently, their religious activities have been subject to government crack down. in an order to provide continued support for this community, shavei israel, an organization which supports underserved and emerging communities, produced as dreydel with chinese lettering. these toys will have an unintended consequence. the dreydel intended to re-connect one in one community will most likely be used to connect in another. chinese jews in the united states will certainly find meaning and value in them as well.
the dreydel’s hebrew lettering have been replaced with mandarin chinese lettering:
伟大的 – Big; 奇迹 – Miracle, 发生过 – Happened; 这里曾 – here.
perhaps, another saying can come out of this endeavor, “little miracles can happen everywhere”
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the photo used is with permission of shavei israel