Jewish Visitors to China

January 25, 2011

A friend sent me a link to a New York Times Freakonomics Opinion Page where Stephen J. Dubner lifted a paragraph from Newsweek of Jewish visitors to China hearing that they are “very smart, very clever and very good at business” from Chinese they meet.

Is this an example of a stereotype, the truth or a mix of both?

As I often do, I found the comments more interesting than the post.  However, this time, I found the comments (with a few exceptions) of a higher quality than most.

Here are a few examples of comments following the Freakonomics post: Eric M. Jones says, “Basically a smart Jewish kid is supported, appreciate and encouraged to persevere.”


Brief History of Kaifeng Jews

Note—Many Chinese also support and encourage their children to work hard and not give up. Both Jews and Chinese tend to respect earning an education more so than the other racial groups.

Drill Baby says, “The Jews are a Diaspora, and though they have not grown their own empire, (they) have had secondary and behind the scenes roles in just about every modern world movement. If China ascends to a world power it would be exceptional in that it has NO Jewish roots, advisers, or talent.”

Note—I suspect Drill Baby would be surprised to learn that Jews have been in China more than a thousand years. During the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), Jews arrived in China and the emperor offered them a home in Kaifeng, the capital of the time. The Tang emperor encouraged the Jews to build a synagogue there, which they did.

Diego.CMS says, “Chinese also like the concept that Jewish people are also hard workers and have money. The Chinese are trying to get better and why not copy the good things from other cultures, specially the Jews?”

D says, “Is there any group with an avg IQ above 100 that isn’t clever, smart, and good at business? It ain’t the Talmud. It’s IQ.”

Note—You may be surprised to learn from Living With Evolution or Dying Without It by K. D. Koratsky that “D” may be correct.

Koratsky’s Racial Group IQ Comparisons (page 575) show European Jews with the highest average IQ at about 110 with Asians close behind at 105.  Caucasians, Hispanics (Latinos) and African-Americans have lower average IQs.

Learn of Jews in Modern China

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

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The State of Religion in Today’s China

December 19, 2010

The U.S. Department of State reports that China is officially atheist (and has been for thousands of years). However, Taoist, Buddhist, Christian and Muslims are allowed to worship in China and these religions have a significant role in the lives of many Chinese.

A February 2007 survey conducted by East China Normal University and reported in China’s state-run media concluded that 31.4% of Chinese citizens ages 16 and over are religious believers.

While the Chinese constitution affirms “freedom of religious belief,” the Chinese Government places restrictions on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. The five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

Singapore, another nation in Asia, has similar restrictions.

Historically, China has not been accepting of cults, and there is a difference between a religion and a cult.

Princeton.edu says, cult members are “followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.”

All one has to do is study China’s history to understand the Middle Kingdom’s sensitivity toward cults and political activists. China’s struggle with pagan cults reaches back almost a thousand years. Source: The Millennium Cult

There are no official statistics confirming the number of Taoists in China.


Fascinating discussion of how Chinese culture interacts with religions.

Official figures indicate there are 20 million Muslims, 20 million Protestants, and 5.3 million Catholics; unofficial estimates are much higher.

According to About Chinese Culture.com, there are more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.

Buddhism, the most popular religion in China with about a 100 million followers, has a 2,000-year history in the Middle Kingdom and there are about 13,000 Buddhist temples.

Taoism, native to China, has a history of more than 1,700 years with over 1,500 temples.

Islam, which was introduced into China in the seventh century has more than 30,000 mosques.

At present, China has about 4,600 Catholic churches and meetinghouses.

Protestantism first arrived in China in the early 19th century. Today there are more than 12,000 churches and 25,000 meeting places.

Although Judaism is not listed as one of the officially recognized religions in China, there are Jewish synagogues in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Jews first settled in Kaifeng, Henan Province in 960 AD after arriving along the Silk Road. The Jews were welcomed by the Imperial government, which encouraged them to retain their cultural identity by building the Kaifeng synagogue, which was finished in 1163 AD.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 2/2

November 30, 2010

Another devout Chinese Muslim in Xian is proudly transcribing the Quran into Chinese using traditional Chinese brush calligraphy. He says it took him over a year to transcribe the entire Quran this way. Now he is working on a second copy.

He has also taught his son and his grandsons how to write with the Chinese brush wanting to pass down this tradition to the next generation.

His son says that every generation should try their best to transcribe the Quran with the Chinese brush, as it is also a good way to reinforce our faith.

The original copy of the Quran in this family is over four hundred years old, a priceless relic transcribed by the Chinese imams. There are only a few remaining copies left in the world.

Jia Wen Yi, a Hajj pilgrim, says the trip to Mecca is important to him and his wife, an elderly couple. They have done a lot of preparation for the hajj. Mr. Jia goes into detail about the planning.

Going on the hajj for Yi and his wife, Jia Wang Yi, has been a dream for over two decades as they saved to have enough money.

Mr. and Mrs. Jia will be part of a group of 250 pilgrims leaving for the hajj from the city of Xian. It was a matter of saving most of their lives until they could afford the trip.

Since these Muslims are considered a minority in China, they are not restricted by the one-child policy, as you would see in the video when the family and friends gather to say goodbye before Mr. and Mrs. Jia leave on the long journey to Mecca.

There is no direct flight from Xian to Mecca, so the pilgrims will take a train to Beijing where they will board a flight to Saudi Arabia.

Whenever pilgrims leave Xian to go on the hajj to Mecca, thousands of Chinese Muslims show up at the railway station to say goodbye. This is the first time Mr. and Mrs. Jia have left China. They have never been apart from their family before.

Return to A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 1 and/or discover The Kaifeng Jews

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


The Kaifeng Jews

July 11, 2010

The Jews settled in Kaifeng, Henan Province in 960 AD after arriving along the Silk Road.  The Jews who first arrived in China were welcomed by the  Imperial government, which encouraged them to retain their cultural identity by building a synagogue, which was finished in 1163 AD.

The Kaifeng Synagogue had a Torah written on sheepskin.  The architecture of the buildings reflects Jewish culture.  Evidence indicates that  the Kaifeng Jews were very traditional and obeyed Kosher dietary laws and practiced circumcision for males.

The Jewish community in China thrived for centuries before it was assimilated into Chinese culture through intermarriage.   By the middle of the 18th century, little survived of the Jewish community.

In 1849, the Yellow River flooded causing what was left of the Jewish community to break apart. Today there are about 500 descendents of the Kaifeng Jewish community who hope to reclaim their Jewish tradition.

See Blaming The Jews-Again!

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.