Judaism in China

Judaism in China has a long and diverse history dating back over a thousand years. The earliest recorded presence of Jews in China dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), although there are theories suggesting even earlier contact. Over the centuries, Jewish communities settled in various parts of China, including Kaifeng, Shanghai, Harbin, and Tianjin, among others.

The most well-known and historically significant Jewish community in China is the one in Kaifeng, Henan Province. The Kaifeng Jews are believed to have arrived during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) and established a thriving community. They assimilated into Chinese society over time, adopting Chinese names, language, and customs, while also maintaining some Jewish traditions and practices. The Kaifeng Synagogue, although in ruins, stands as a testament to their presence and history.

In modern times, the Jewish community in China has experienced a revival, particularly in cities like Shanghai and Beijing, where expatriates and foreign diplomats have contributed to the establishment of Jewish congregations and cultural institutions. Additionally, China’s economic reforms and opening up have attracted Jewish entrepreneurs and professionals to the country, further enriching its Jewish presence.

Today, Judaism in China is a small but vibrant community, with synagogues, cultural centers, and events that celebrate Jewish heritage and identity. The Chinese government officially recognizes five religions, including Judaism, and allows for religious freedom under certain regulations. While the Jewish population in China remains relatively small compared to other communities, its historical significance and cultural contributions are widely acknowledged and appreciated.