China and East Asia

Asia’s inaugural Limmud learning fest, held in China last month, brought together over 100 Jews from Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai, the Philippines, Singapore, and Hong Kong, as well as the UK, Israel, and the US. “Jewish networks,” “community connectivity,” and “regional unity” became the events biggest buzzwords.

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

Revitalizes Jewish Life

Rescue Victims of Emergencies