Federation, JCC to hold lecture on “The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng”

By Reporter staff

The Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton and the Jewish Community Center will hold a lecture about “The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng,” an online exhibit sponsored by a grant of the Friends of the UW Libraries at the University of Washington Seattle, on Friday, October 1. The exact time of the lecture will be announced, but it will take place in the early afternoon. Rabbi Anson H. Laytner, president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and editor of its journal Points East, will speak via Zoom about the online exhibit, which discusses the history of the Jewish community in China. (To read an interview of Laytner, see the article on page 7.) To receive the Zoom link or for more information, contact Federation Executive Director Shelley Hubal at director@jfgb.org.

“We were hoping to hold the program as a Lunch and Learn,” said Hubal. “We won’t know until closer to the event if that will be possible. But even if we can’t gather in one place, we can look forward to what should be a fascinating lecture.”

According to the exhibit’s website, “The purpose of the display is to introduce the fascinating history of the Jewish communities in China, especially the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng, which was the capital city of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and is located in today’s Henan Province.... [The exhibit presents] the story of the Jewish communities in China, how they interacted with the local cultures and life, and what has become of them eventually. We believe this story will enrich our understanding of both Jewish and Chinese history and cultures.”
Prior to his retirement, Laytner was program manager of the Interreligious Initiative at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, and an adjunct professor there with the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. He has also worked as a chaplain and as a director of non-profit organizations. He is editor, with Jordan Paper, of “The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng: A Millennium of Adaptation and Endurance,” a scholarly book that explores the culture and history of the Chinese Jewish community and how it combined Chinese and Jewish cultures. 

The committee organizing the event included Shelley Hubal, executive director of the Federation; Sheryl Brumer, executive director of the JCC; and Sima Auerbach, the JCC’s Judaic cultural coordinator. “I am very excited that Sima Auerbach has agreed to be the JCC’ s new part-time Judaic cultural coordinator, “ said Brumer. “I am looking forward to the upcoming program she is planning with Shelley Hubal and the Federation, and hope we can continue to plan more such programs together in the future.”

If the event is held in person, it will include a Reporter book give-away. For more information, see future issues of this paper.