This spring, Kulanu is delighted to host Shi Lei of the historic Jewish community of Kaifeng, China. Cut off from the Jewish world for hundreds of years until it was â€œdiscoveredâ€ by a Jesuit priest in 1605 CE, the Kaifeng community remained intact until the 19th century when it disappeared from the Jewish map. Today, this ancient Jewish community is undergoing a remarkable resurgence. Shi Lei is a descendant of one of the original Jewish families, believed to have settled in Kaifeng between 960 and 1127 CE.
An accomplished and experienced speaker, Shi Lei will present the history of this remarkable community, offering insight into the ability of some remnants of the community to survive under difficult, even impossible, circumstances. Today, some 300 descendants still live in Kaifeng, and while some Jewish traditions have been forgotten, others have been preserved through the centuries. Like Shi Lei, many young people desire to learn about their origins. Eighteen of them are currently studying in Israel.
Shi Lei is a graduate of Henan University in the province of Henan, China. From 2001 to 2002, he studied Jewish history and religion in Israel at Bar-Ilan University, continuing his studies at Machon Meir Yeshiva in Jeursalem. Now a tour operator and national tour guide, Shi Lei leads private and group tours to Kaifeng and other Chinese cities with Jewish sites of interest, including Beijing, Harbin, Xiâ€™an and Shanghai.Â
This year’s Kulanu-Kaifeng speaking tour will run from April 23 through May 24, 2010. If you are interested in hosting Mr. Lei in your community, read on for what to do next.
What is required of host locations?
- An honorarium of $1000 plus a travel expense contribution of $250, for a total of $1250 per event. You are welcome to seek co-sponsors to share your event.
- A primary contact to be responsible for the event and for Shi Lei while he is in your city.
- Accommodations, meals, and local transportation for the speaker (home hospitality is preferred).Â
If you would like to host the speaker, what should you do next?
- Complete our online inquiry form to let us know of your interest and how to reach you. If you are able, please list three possible dates that might work for you.
- If you have questions, feel free to contact Katie Rosenthal, Kulanuâ€™s speaking tour coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a special opportunity to educate your community about the Jewish community of Kaifeng and about Jewish diversity, and to help Kulanu continue to support isolated and emerging Jewish communities around the world.
For more information:
- about Shi Lei and his work as a tourism guide in China, visit his web site at jewishchinatours.com
- about Kulanu, visit cyan.olm.net/~kulanuÂ
- about the Jews of China,cyan.olm.net/~kulanu/china
We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!
(Photo of Shi Lei courtesy of Sino-Judaic Institute)