The liberation of being beloved

on 8.28.2008

A response to a conservative post against freedom of love:

"I confess I do have a problem of simplifying things so I appreciate your words of wisdom!

I agree that salvation centrally concerns our life and the choices we make in this world but not on the belief of a heaven/hell afterlife paradigm as, quite frankly – if we take the Bible in terms of content, I am pushed to believe that people (the Israelites whose tradition we claim and/or strive to follow) were not motivated by a hope of an afterlife; rather, they spoke a lot more about salvation of this world, that salvation happens in this life, salvation is on this earth is it is in heaven.

Given that, what is salvation? Salvation means healing of wounds and that is central to understanding the idea of Love, all-encompassing and compassionate. The bible is a story of how our wounds are healed by life through God’s love. Economic and political bondage (e.g. to the Pharaohs, to the Romans, to the twisted democratic system in the US), or cultural and psychological bondage (e.g. to traditional belief systems – working hard = salvation, different = bad choice, heaven/hell, to our own well-being and lifestyle, to wounds suffered in childhood or in the workplace) is what we are freed from thanks to Jesus’ mission. Salvation is reconciliation, to be brought back from estrangement – living outside of Eden, Exodus – and to break down the walls of separation and hostility and ignorance and intolerance allowing all of us to reconcile with one another – which is essential if this is to be a shadow/mirror of the kingdom of heaven. Salvation is enlightenment, to have our eyes open to the presence of God in the world and in ALL of us. Salvation is forgiveness. We have to break free of our bondage to the traditional and popular “Christian” dynamic of sin and forgiveness (sin – judgement – need for forgiveness).

There are no “if” statements in God’s forgiveness. We, humans, are adding these “if”s (if you repent, if you reject, if you believe, “you don’t get something for nothing”…). Forgiveness is NOT a reward and it’s not based on conditions dictated by our choices. Forgiveness is unconditional grace, not about meeting God’s requirement. Being a Christian does not mean thinking about sin and forgiveness within the framework of eternal life or hell. Being a Christian means to learn to accept that God’s unconditional acceptance, living our lives in a relationship with God who already accepts us for what we are. Being a Christian is not following conventional wisdom, burdened by a life of measuring up, with a life hounded by constant guilt and fear of sin, which intrinsically is what affects all evils of society that in turn affect all of us negatively.“You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” said God. To who? To all, of course, including those who walk away from him, or those who are not aware of him, or those who are, by tradition or choice, not “Christians.”Living with the knowledge of being so beloved, is truly comforting. Unfortunately, society perpetuates our bondage to hate, condemnation and discrimination in the name of God or Jesus - to what purpose make life for others so miserable and loveless?

As a present reality, how is the Kingdom of God being formed on earth? By perpetuating hate and intolerance, fascist groups (right-wing “Christians,” right-wing muslims, etc) feed on popular conventions and perpetuate the system of political, cultural and psychological oppression that essentially have nothing to do with God, reinforcing the opposite, in fact.

Why can’t they see the social vision as explained in the bible? The destitute are blessed, the hungry are filled, we all live together in freedom, released by the anxiety of self-preoccupation, of hurtful ways of being, of being unable to see the presence of God around us. With so much hate and pressure and flawed systems and vicious political institutions, how can anyone see any good around us? God’s love is not forced – but everything else, especially negative and non-constructive elements of life, is forced on people helping them walk away for what they think is God. Of course, you don't want to force your future wife to love you because then it would not be REAL love. However, if your future wife doesn’t love you, couldn’t it be also because her parents are forcing you not to be with you because you are Black? Or because you are gay? Or because you are penniless? That is the evil of society that for thousands and thousands of years we keep on perpetuating to oppress ourselves – and which has nothing to do with God at all.

In the meantime, God is the same. We may walk away from him/her, again and again and again, but God doesn’t walk away from us for any reason. God wills our salvation, our healing, here on earth, now. Christianity is about participating in this salvation, not creating constraints that will do the exact opposite.

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A "Christian" in a voting booth

on 8.26.2008

Do you enjoy empowering those elite few who would ruthlessly murder innocent people who happen to live in a part of the world that our nation is occupying for reasons TO THIS DAY still misdirected or downright murky? If Cain can do it, so can we!

Would you like to continue to support policies that continuously deteriorate our earth? Satan did it in the bible, so since it's in the bible, we have to do it too!

How about supporting the pro-business environment, which will make sure that your neighbors will work like damn dogs for the rest of their lives for bare minimum amounts of NOW increasingly worthless dollars, ensuring that their children will also have zero opportunity to be nurtured and perpetuate their life in poverty, crime, drugs and zero-motivation?

How about then blaming these unchristian kids for the evils of society that THEY OBVIOUSLY BROUGHT ON THEMSELVES! Can you believe they chose to do drugs and, just like that, to become gay just to piss us off? I think we should just cut school funding completely so they can just die off in the streets - problem solved!

It is really nice to make sure your country spends as much money as Sudan on public welfare, isn't it? At least, we have a government that makes sure we all spend whatever is left in our humongous paychecks on making the medical industry richer! How lucky are we?!!!

How about casting your stone and point your clean and pure fingers at a woman who is struggling with the most heart-wrenching decision of her life and call her a killer and tell her God hates her?

Is this Christian compassion? God's love for mankind knows no political or national boundaries?
Ya, right! that's what liberal sissy Mustafa Ali Baba would think! My conscience tells me that IT IS WRONG to work with all of the energy I have to make this world a reflection of God's glory - and I mean the world, not just the United States. What am I saying, the world is the United States!

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Why Christians should let gay marriage be - not hate

“God loves you just the way you are.” Why should this provoke ire from fundamentalists self-professed "christians"?

It seems like nothing has changed since Jesus confronted the Pharisees: Love still seems to confound and frustrate the self-righteous and religious


The first thing that Christians must realize when debating the issue of gay marriage, is that the Bible does not clearly condemn homosexuality. To many that may be surprising considering the way many preachers and teachers talk about homosexuality. There are approximately seven references in the bible to same sex activity, and none represent a loving relationship or sexual orientation as we understand it today.

One of the most prolifically cited scriptures about Homosexuality is in Leviticus 18 & 20. This is a favorite scripture of people condemning homosexuality. One must ask them why this was written. Leviticus is a Hebrew purity code which I can guarantee no Christians use as a moral guideline in today’s culture. By these standards all people that ate shrimp, wore polyester, or played football (touching pig-skin) would be condemned to hell. It seems ironic that many Christians choose to pull out this scripture and ignore all the surrounding scriptures as void. The Old Testament is valid, but clearly we as Christians do not resort to the legalism that Levitical code represents. God has purpose in his Laws and they are not irrational, many believe that these strict purity codes were to keep the Israelites disease free and to set them apart as God’s chosen people. Clearly this makes sense in the levitcal code stating that you should not have intercourse with a woman on her period. We as rational human beings can see that this was not because it was a perversion, but because it would have been very unsanitary at the time and prone to spreading illness, because of the inability to take showers and be hygienic.

Without getting into great detail about the actual translation of words in the New Testament “condemning” homosexuality, it is important to understand the context in which they are written. There are a myriad of theories about what the Romans, Corinthians, and Timothy, references to homosexuality mean. It is important however, to realize that while these books are valid and essential to the Christian faith today, they were written as letters to the early church. Paul was writing letters of admonition to the early churches in Rome and Corinth about issues they were facing. When Paul mentions homosexuality (well, in fact he doesn’t because their was no word for what we understand as homosexuality, he used a word that meant man, and bed, in Greek, and it is widely debated what this word actually meant, because he made it up and it isn’t in any other literature) he did not do so ambiguously. Paul was writing the church about issues that were present in their culture; otherwise his references would have been totally pointless in addressing the church. We must ask ourselves what issues would the churches in Rome and Corinth have faced. A quick study of Roman culture, the society which the churches were living in, will tell you quickly what he was talking about. In the pagan Roman world it was common to keep catamites, or young boys as sex slaves. And in Romans it is often speculated that Paul was talking about the Pagan Idol rituals involving same-sex acts committed by heterosexuals. Both sexual perversions that were rampant at the time Paul wrote to the church in Rome. Without fail Paul mentions these in reference to people who use their sexuality for their own means and not an expression of love. The word effeminate is also used in the list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. This word is another greek word, Malakoi, translated as “Soft.” This word to Greeks is indicative of someone who has lost their balance and moderation and seeks to satisfy the flesh, rather than being temperate and controlled.

The bible also talks about the Immorality of tax collectors. Does this mean all tax collectors are evil throughout history, or does it mean that they were in Jesus’ day? Clearly we can see that the condemnation of Tax collectors does not apply to today’s IRS, but to a corrupt system. Do Paul’s references to Same-Sex activity condemn homosexuals today, or was he speaking against the corrupt practices of Roman Culture, in which it was rampant to have male sex slaves? Corinthians 7:17-24 it speaks of remaining in the place that you received Christ, be it free or slave. Imagine a Roman slave coming to the knowledge of Christ, but being unable to be free of constant rape. I think in this example we can see why Paul would speak out against this practice.

When one actually begins to dig to understand what Paul was saying and whom he was addressing, It becomes clear that he was making specific references to issues that the Roman Christians were facing in separating themselves from a Pagan society, that are very different from the issues we face as Americans regarding this matter.

******What does the Bible say then??

The bible does contain a lot of Law Code, Law that was given by God to his people. Jesus however said he came to fulfill that Law, and change the relationship between God and man from legalism, to a relationship of Loving response. Jesus was constantly coming into conflict with the legalistic religious leaders who wanted to find fault with him. In one such story Jesus told his disciples to glean some food from a field to eat, however when the Pharisees heard of this they were indignant because it was the Sabbath and he was encouraging them to work. Jesus responded by saying that the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. Indicating what the religious leaders were missing. That God had not given them the law of keeping the Sabbath so that they would have to keep it meticulously and be slaves to it, but so that they would have a day to rest and worship God.

From above we can see that the more you look at this issue of homosexuality and Christianity the more ambiguous it becomes. When referring to the Law, Jesus made a very simple guideline by which to understand the Law as it was fulfilled in him, making what was once very complicated very simple:
“Let love be your only debt! If you love others, you have done all that the Law demands." In the Law there are many commands, such as, "Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others." But all of these are summed up in the command that says," Love others as much as you love yourself." No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands." Rom 12:8-10

I think this passage should be the most important rule of morality to a Christian, and certainly applies to the issue that the Church is debating now. When you have loved others as you have yourself, you have fulfilled the spirit of law. Sadly this is something that many Christians, especially those involved in politics, have forgotten. The bible says that Christians will be known by their Love. I wonder if I asked a gay person how do you know someone is a Christian, I doubt they would say by their Love.

Jesus said he came to give life and life more abundantly. As Christians we must ask ourselves how does this apply to people that are gay. Today we see Christians loudly proclaim hate of the gay community, and that they are the enemies of Christianity. We see people being subjected to Ex-gay “counseling” that has not only been proven ineffective (It is proven that the significant majority eventually return to their former lifestyle) but by psychology’s standards it has been shown to be psychologically damaging to the individual in many cases, who is already hurt and frustrated. By these simple facts we see that despite a deep desire to change, they cannot, and what must Christians do in this case? What is the abundant life that Jesus promised for these people? Statistics show last year over ***400***Christians killed themselves because they were gay, and could not change, meaning that someone who was raised in the church killed themselves because they were gay. When we look at these facts, one really must ask, are Christians handling this issue correctly?

Jesus taught many things about how to live a righteous life and how to live and love, so I thought we should certainly reference his thoughts on homosexuality since he is the founder of our faith

Jesus on Homosexuality: "_________________________


*****Tradition or Family Values??

Today the one of the biggest organization’s that fights against Gay Marriage is Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family, a Christian organization, claims that God is seemingly only approving of heterosexual relationships, and apparently 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. A quick look at the bible will tell us that these “Family Values” are more American idealism than anything else. King Solomon had 700 wives, and 300 concubines, Women were required to marry any man that raped them by Levitical law, and Paul never even married and counted it a blessing. What does the bible say about following tradition instead
of seeking out God’s will for your own life?
“Take care lest there be some one who leads you away as prisoners, by means of his philosophy and idle fancies, following human traditions and the world's crude notions, instead of following Christ” Colossians 2:8
Is Focus on the Family seeking to sustain human and American tradition, or are they truly seeking the heart of Christ on this issue? God is not silent, and he can speak to us today about our society, just like he spoke to Paul about the society in Rome and Corinth...Let's not put God in a box.


It seems Ironic to me that Christians in the same breath condemn homosexuals for being promiscuous, while actively trying to prevent them from legally having a monogamous relationship.

Accepting gays is not a breakdown of morality. The same morality that applies to heterosexuals should apply to homosexuals. That is that sex is binding, and only permissible in a monogamous and hopefully loving relationship. Legally preventing gays from being in this relationship only encourages promiscuity and the spread of diseases such as HIV. The Church should have a clear message against promiscuity, but being promiscuous is not being Gay. Once again did God say this just to subject people to strict laws, No of course not! We are spiritual beings created to be in communion with God, and when someone is promiscuous it tears them apart from that relationship with God, puts them in harms way, and causes emotional distress. Sex is a binding and covenant relationship throughout the bible.

The biggest myth propagated by organizations such as Focus on the Family, is that there is a “Gay Lifestyle.” Apparently this lifestyle is one of random hook-ups, depression, drug use, and death from a disease. The fact is that there are Ministers that are gay, there are Lesbian mothers, and people that have chosen to remain celibate their entire life, there is no more a gay lifestyle, then there is a straight lifestyle. You choose your lifestyle that you live.


It saddens me today to see the state of Christianity and how it has become so involved in Politics. "Christians" have gone completely wrong in many times trying to evoke change through a ballot, instead of through people’s hearts and by compassion. I wonder what Jesus would say about Christians who spend their time campaigning against gay marriage, while thousands of children around the world die of starvation everyday. To me this is merely the same problem that Jesus fought during his life. Pharisees focusing on the technicalities and legality while ignoring the poor and those in need.

I yearn for the day when Christians stop trying to create change in politics, and will start to try and make a difference in someone’s life. Jesus was rejected by many Jews as being the Messiah because they viewed the messiah as someone who would overthrow Roman control, and restore Jerusalem to Jewish control. Jesus, when asked about paying taxes to Caesar said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”, indicating his mission on earth had little to do with political change, but of impacting lives and having compassion on the outcasts of society.

you, conservative "christian" republican what not, focus on the INCREDIBLE gap between the lower/middle class vs. the super rich elite in america. NOW THAT'S SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING ABOUT

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For "christians" into hating - a logic sheet for the misguided

God = all encompassing, compassionate Love -> kingdom of God in heaven for all of us, not some, ALL -> "Thy kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven" -> kingdom of God on earth is our goal. Therefore, kingdom of God = Love and compassion for ALL -> kingdom of God on earth is love and compassion, a nurturing and helping environment for ALL.

God -> Religion -> to help humans get to the kingdom of God -> must foster love and a nurturing environment if the kingdom of God on earth is to be like what's in heaven.

Religion = love and nourishment for ALL - NOT hate and discrimination and individualism

Fundamentalism = the golden commandment = LOVE one another like I LOVE YOU = no right-wing "christian" hate towards "different" people - intolerance = ignorance and bigotry = not WWJD -> unproductive behavior not conducive to kingdom of God.

Face reality, welcome to the XXI century. Took a while, not too late to change.

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on 8.19.2008

The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community that has existed in Kaifeng in the Henan province of China for hundreds of years. The community was known by their Han Chinese neighbors as adherents of tiao jin jiao (挑筋教), meaning, loosely, the religion which removes the sinew (a reference to kashrut).

According to historical records, a Jewish community with a synagogue built in 1163 lived in Kaifeng from at least the Southern Song Dynasty until the late nineteenth century. It is surmised that the ancestors of the Kaifeng Jews came from Central Asia. The uninterrupted existence of this religious and ethnic group, living for over 700 years in socio-cultural surroundings strongly dominated by Confucian moral and ethical principles, is a unique phenomenon in Chinese and Jewish history.

The existence of Jews in China was largely unknown until Matteo Ricci met a Jew from the Kaifeng community in the early 17th century. Ricci met a young Chinese Jew named Ai Tian (艾田) in 1605, who explained that he worshipped one God. It is recorded that when he saw a Christian image of Mary with the child Jesus, he believed it to be a picture of Rebecca with Esau or Jacob, figures from Scripture. Ai declared that he had come from Kaifeng, where many other Jews resided. Ricci sent a Chinese Jesuit to visit Kaifeng; later, further Jesuits also visited the city. It was later discovered that the Jewish community had a synagogue (禮拜寺 libai si) and possessed a great number of written materials and books.

The Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s led to the dispersal of the community, but it later returned to Kaifeng. Three stelae with inscriptions were found at Kaifeng. The oldest, dating from 1489, commemorates the construction of a synagogue in 1163 (bearing the name 清真寺, Qīngzhēn, a term often used for mosques in Chinese). The inscription states that the Jews came to China from India during the Han Dynasty period (2nd century BCE-2nd century CE). It cites the names of 70 Jews with Chinese surnames, describes their audience with an unnamed Song Dynasty emperor, and lists the transmission of their religion from Abraham down to the prophet Ezra. The second tablet, dating from 1512 (found in the synagogue Xuanzhang Daojing Si) details their Jewish religious practices. The third, dated 1663, commemorates the rebuilding of the Qingzhen si synagogue and repeats information that appears in the other two steles.[1]

Ink rubbings of the 1489 stele (left) and 1512 stele (right)
Ink rubbings of the 1489 stele (left) and 1512 stele (right)

Two of the stelae refer to a famous tattoo written on the back of Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. The tattoo, which reads "Boundless loyalty to the country" (simplified Chinese: 尽忠报国; traditional Chinese: 盡忠報國; pinyin: jìn zhōng bào guó), first appeared in a section of the 1489 stele talking about the Jews’ “Boundless loyalty to the country and Prince”. The second appeared in a section of the 1512 stele talking about how Jewish soldiers and officers in the Chinese armies were “Boundlessly loyal to the country.” The same source even claims that Israelites served as soldiers in the armies of Yue Fei.[1]

Father Joseph Brucker, a Roman Catholic researcher of the early twentieth century, showed that Ricci's manuscripts indicate that there were only in the range of ten or twelve Jewish families in Kaifeng in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth centuries, and that they had reportedly resided there for five or six hundred years. It was also stated in the manuscripts that there was a greater number of Jews in Hangzhou. This could be taken to suggest that loyal Jews fled south along with the soon-to-be crowned Emperor Gaozong to Hangzhou. In fact, the 1489 stele mentions how the Jews "abandoned Bianliang" (Kaifeng) after the Jingkang Incident.

Earth Market Street, Kaifeng, 1910. The synagogue lay beyond the row of stores on the right
Earth Market Street, Kaifeng, 1910. The synagogue lay beyond the row of stores on the right

Despite their isolation from the rest of the Jewish diaspora, the Jews of Kaifeng preserved Jewish traditions and customs for many centuries. In the seventeenth century, assimilation began to erode these traditions. The rate of intermarriage between Jews and other ethnic groups, such as the Han Chinese, and the Hui and Manchu minorities in China, increased. The destruction of the synagogue in the 1860s led to the community's demise. [2]

Today, 600-1,000 residents of Kaifeng trace their lineage back to this community. [2] After contact with Jewish tourists, the Jews of Kaifeng have reconnected to mainstream Jewry. With the help of Jewish organizations, some members of the community have immigrated to Israel. [2]

[edit] Skepticism

One scholar, Dr Xun Zhou, doubts the authenticity of the Kaifeng community, believing it to have been largely a Western cultural construct. Xun Zhou, a research fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, has written an article putting the status of the Kaifeng Jews into question. He maintains that the community had no Torah scrolls until 1851, when they suddenly appeared to be sold to eager Western collectors. He also states that, for example, drawings of the synagogue were doctored in the West because the original did not look like one, and that the Kaifeng community claimed to have kept some Jewish practices since before they are known to have begun. Xun Zhou's conclusion is that the Kaifeng community was not Jewish in any meaningful sense.[3]

[edit] Kaifeng Jews today

Bird's eye view of the exterior of the Kaifeng synagogue.
Bird's eye view of the exterior of the Kaifeng synagogue.

Due to the political situation, research on the Kaifeng Jews and Judaism in China came to a standstill until the beginning of the 1980s, when political and economic reforms were implemented. The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel in 1992 rekindled interest in Judaism and the Jewish experience, especially in light of the fact that 25,000 Jewish refugees fled to Shanghai during the Nazi period.[4]

The Kaifeng Jews intermarried with local Chinese, and are thus indistinguishable in appearance from their non-Jewish neighbors.[5] Within the framework of contemporary rabbinical Judaism, only matrilineal transmission of Jewishness is recognized, while Chinese Jews based their Jewishness on patrilineal descent. As a result, they are required to undergo conversion in order to receive Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. Most descendants of Kaifeng's Jewish community are only vaguely aware of their ancestry[6]. Some, however, say their parents and grandparents told them that they were Jewish and would one day "return to their land." [2] The one trait that differentiated them from their neighbors was not eating pork.[2]

While the official attitude toward the descendants of Kaifeng's Jewish community is comfortable, their treatment by their fellow-citizens is not always so. Kaifeng is home to a dynamic Muslim community, which is very cohesive, having survived 50 years of isolation and officially sanctioned hostility (largely, presumably, because of the relationship between the Hui, Uyghur, and Kazakh ethnicities and the Chinese government). In that period, the descendants of Kaifeng's Jewish community were protected and helped by Muslims, to the point that they became largely indistinguishable from the Muslim community. That changed with the opening up of China, when Kaifeng's Muslims reestablished links with Muslims elsewhere. The community received assistance from Muslim nations, and adopted much of the prevailing anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish attitude. The Kaifeng mosque propagates "Conquered Jerusalem" anti-Israeli propaganda, and the local Muslim population has developed an increasingly hostile attitude toward Jews. Since few outside Jews ever visit Kaifeng, this hostility is channeled toward the descendants of the Kaifeng Jewish community. There are rumors of pogroms, information about which is reportedly censored by the Chinese government. Because of this situation, many descendants of the Kaifeng Jewish community prefer to pass as ethnic Han.[citation needed]

Interior of the Kaifeng synagogue.
Interior of the Kaifeng synagogue.

The last census revealed about 400 official Jews in Kaifeng, but that number may be suspect.[citation needed] It is difficult to estimate the number of Jews in any country, but in China it is nearly impossible. Numbers may change simply because of a change in official attitudes. For example, the number of ethnic Manchus during the reign of the last Manchu emperor was estimated at 2 million; after the fall of the Manchu Empire, Manchus, fearing persecution, virtually disappeared and only 500,000 were counted in the succeeding census. When official policies regarding minorities were changed, affording them protective rights, the number of ethnic Manchus jumped to 5 million. There are potentially hundreds of thousands in Kaifeng and its environs that may claim Jewish ethnicity. Thus far, most overseas Jewish communities have been indifferent toward the putative descendants of the Kaifeng Jews. Recently, however, a family of Kaifeng Jewish descendants have formally converted to Judaism and have become Israeli citizens. Whether or not more Kaifeng Jewish descendants will follow in this family's path remains a matter of speculation.

In his 1992 documentary series Legacy, historian Michael Wood walked down a small lane in Kaifeng that he said is known as the "alley of the sect who teach the Scriptures", that is, of the Jews. He mentioned that there are still Jews in Kaifeng today, but that they are reluctant to reveal themselves "in the current political climate." The documentary's companion book further states that one can still see a "mezuzah on the door frame, and the candelabrum in the living room." Similarly, in the documentary Quest for the Lost Tribes, by Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, the film crew visits the home of an elderly Kaifeng Jew who explains the recent history of the Kaifeng Jews, shows some old photographs, and his identity papers that identify him as a member of the Jewish ethnic group.


Kaifeng city map, 1910. It shows the exact placement of the Kaifeng synagogue.
Kaifeng city map, 1910. It shows the exact placement of the Kaifeng synagogue.

In the book, The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in Ancient China, Tiberiu Weisz, a teacher of Hebrew history and Chinese religion, presents his own translations of the 1489, 1512, and 1663 stone stelae left by the descendants of the Kaifeng Jews. These stelae were left to preserve their religion and to briefly touch on their origins, since the Jewish community was slowly dying out from Chinese assimilation. His translation reveals one of many proposed origins of the Kaifeng Jews.

According to Weisz, after the Babylonian exile and Diaspora of the sixth century BCE, disenchanted Levites and Kohanim parted with the Prophet Ezra because of a prohibition against taking foreign wives and the decree encouraging “intermarriage” within the Jewish tribes and disappeared never to be heard from again. Weisz believes these Jews settled in Northwestern India or 天竺 Tiānzhú (“Heaven India,” as it is called in one of the Kaifeng steles), where they lived for centuries.

Prior to 108 BCE, these Jews had migrated from northwestern India to the Ningxia region of modern day Gansu province, China and were spotted by a Chinese general, Li Guang, who was sent to invade the “western region” (西域 Xīyù in Chinese) to expand the borders of Han Dynasty China. From this time until the latter part of the Tang Dynasty, the Jews slowly dispersed throughout China, taking Chinese wives, and siring “half-Chinese, half-barbarian” children. In the "Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution" (845-46), Buddhism and other foreign religions—Zoroastrianism, Manichaeanism, Nestorian Christianity, Islam and Judaism—were forced from China proper back to its outlying territories under the supervision of the Khitan tribes (including the Ningixa region) and all foreign temples were burnt to make way for their Confucian and Taoist counterparts, the native religions of China.

Chinese Jews reading the Torah from a "chair of moses."
Chinese Jews reading the Torah from a "chair of moses."

It was not until the early Northern Song Dynasty, when Emperor Taizong, a man with a great thirst for knowledge, sent out envoys to every corner of Asia to learn from and recruit foreign scholars, did the Jews return to China. According to former translations of the stelae, the Chinese word Guī (in the Emperor’s speech to the Jews) was wrongly translated as “come,” leading most western and Chinese historians to believe the Jews first came to China during the Song dynasty. However, Weisz translates Guī as the proper “return,”[2] meaning the Emperor was aware of the Jews’ former Chinese citizenship and was welcoming them back to China. He then allowed them to stay under the protection of the Song Empire and to continue to practice the religion of the fore-fathers.[1]

Little of the written works of the Kaifeng have survived. A significant portion, however, are kept in the library of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. Among the works in that collection are a siddur (a Jewish prayer book) in Chinese characters and a Hebrew codex of the bible. The codex is fascinating in that, while it ostensibly contains vowels, it was clearly copied by someone who did not understand them. While the symbols are accurate portrayals of Hebrew vowels, they appear to be placed randomly, thereby rendering the voweled text as gibberish. Since Hebrew is generally written without vowels, a literate Hebrew speaker can disregard these markings, as the consonants are written correctly, with few scribal errors.

- from Wikipedia

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