The increasingly dominant position of China and East Asia has triggered significant growth for young expat Jewish communities in mainland China — including those in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guanzhou, and Shenzhen. There are also an increasing number of small communities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, with the Jewish community in Hong Kong being the largest and most stable. These communities come with unique challenges; the wide geographic region causes a sense of isolation, and the transience of the Chinese expat population presents challenges to establishing a sense of community.
JDC began working in the region in 1941, when a JDC representative, Laura Margolis, arrived in Shanghai to assist Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. JDC succeeded then in helping some 15,000 Jews to survive the war. Over the last few years, JDC has returned to China and East Asia. JDC’s focus is to help establish a network of inter-community connectedness among the various pockets of Jews throughout China and the larger East Asia region by creating joint programming ventures and promoting cooperation.
To this end, a JDC Senior Jewish Service Corps Fellow has been based in Shanghai since 2011 establishing cohesive social networks for young professionals, and coordinating a rich pallet of community-building programs surrounding the holidays and other important Jewish events.
To Address the Needs of this Growing Jewish Community in China, JDC:
Develops Tomorrows Jewish Leaders
- Placed a Jewish Service Corps Fellow in Shanghai who is volunteering in the government-run Shanghai Jewish Refugee’s Museum, and is also creating new spaces including “boutique” social gatherings for young professionals to meet and interact in a Jewish context.
- Supports Moishe House Beijing in establishing a Jewish library, helping with programs, and providing ongoing encouragement and advice to the residents.
- Sends Jewish Teens from the Region to Szarvas as part of an effort to connect East Asian Jewry to JDC global programs. This effort is a natural product of JDC’s concern for Jewish responsibility.
Revitalizes Jewish Life
- Supports Asian Jewish Life, a quarterly magazine established in Hong Kong with the aim of connecting Jews and Jewish communities across the region through a creative intellectual outlet for sharing thoughts and ideas.
- Coordinates Limmud China. This internationally renowned, multi-denominational celebration of Jewish life and learning was brought to China and East Asia in 2012 under the guidance and support of JDC. Beginning at the Great Wall in Beijing and continuing in Shanghai, Limmud strengthens participation in Jewish life and inspires motivated leadership.
Rescue Victims of Emergencies
- Partnered with the Japanese Jewish Community to respond to the 2011 Japan Disaster. The Tokyo community now serves as a model for strengthening the commitment of Jewish communities in the region to global Jewish responsibility.