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Religions in China - Judaism

In the 12th century, Jews migrated from India to Kaifeng 開封 (modern Kaifeng, Henan), the capital of the Northern Song empire. Some Chinese scholars think that even as early as the 7th century Jewish merchants came to China. The Jews in Kaifeng soon adopted Chinese names and are - alone from the name - not to discern from Chinese. Bearers of surnames like Li 李, Yan 俺, Ai 艾, Gao 高, Mu 穆, Zhao 趙 or Jin 金 could be identified as Jewish merchants. In Chinese sources, Jews are called "Shuhu 術忽", "Deya 德亞" or "Youtai 猶太", their religion was called the belief of "Yicileye 一賜樂業", i. e. Israel. The Jewish community did not live in concentrated quarters of Kaifeng but lived scattered among the Chinese population. A lot of Jews seem to have converted to Islam and became so-called Hui 回 (Muslims).

Literature on Jews in China:
Finn, James (1971 [1843]). The Jews in China: Their Synagogue, their Scriptures, their History, etc. Taipeh: Ch’eng Wen.
Goldstein, Jonathan (1999). The Jews of China. Vol. 1. Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Armonk/London: M. E. Sharpe.
Kupfer, Peter (2008). Youtai: Presence and Perception of Jews and Judaism in China. Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang.

Source: Tang Yusheng 唐裕生 (1986), "Youtairen 猶太人", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu> 中國大百科全書, Minzu 民族 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), p. 510.

August 23, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail