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Xu Xin's Trip Reports

      2006: U.S. Trip Number 10 ~ Winter of 2006: 

Highly Productive! A great deal was accomplished during this, my 10th enjoyable and fruitful visit to the U.S. In addition to visiting colleges, universities, and numerous organizations, my main mission was to plan the dedication of the new Glazer Center for Judaic Studies at Nanjing University, and I am delighted to announce that on November 21, 2006 dedication ceremonies will be conducted at Nanjing University. Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, Chancellor Emeritus of Hebrew Union College, will honor us as the keynote speaker. The center, originated in 1992, desperately needed new space. In 2001 we launched the expansion program. Now, with the completion of a new  building it will not only have a new location, but much needed class rooms and a library for this institution which provides the core of research  opportunities on Judaic topics for Chinese students and scholars.

                                         CROSSING THE COUNTRY

A number of requests quickly followed the initial invitation from the Charlotte and Louis M. Epstein Memorial Scholar-in-Residence program at Lincolnwood Jewish Congregation. These included Alverno College, Rollins College, Montclair State University, the City University of   New York, and University of Judaism.   In Lincolnwood, where I was the first Chinese academician to be honored in the Scholar-in Residence Program, I spoke on "A Brief History and Contemporary Vestiges of the Jews of Kaifeng, China" and "The Posture of the People's Republic of Chine toward Jews & Judaism."

 What a gratifying turnout. Over 200 attended the sessions on a cold winter Saturday evening and the following Sunday morning. Rabbi Joel Lehrfield was delighted, and so was I. It was equally delightful to expand my meetings with the Epstein family. I had met seven of them on  the 2005 "Land of the Dragon Tour with Jewish Touch" and was so glad to get together with 14 of them this time to dine at Slice of Life, a  kosher restaurant in Skokie

 January 26, in the middle of the Chicago stay, I dashed down to Orlando for a day to participate in the Jewish Studies program at Rollins College at the invitation of Dr. Yudit Greenberg, Professor of Religion and Director of the Jewish Studies Program. In addition to a public  lecture on "Jewish Life in China: Past and Present" I enjoyed a productive discussion with her about a possible exchange program between our two institutions. 

                   As always while in Chicago, we (my wife and our son who joined us) stayed with our American family. Beverly Friend not only made all the arrangements for my Midwest appearances, but held a Chinese New Year's Eve Party so that we could not only celebrate the New Year but  see each and every family member, as we are very close. To round out the week, I spoke at Oakton Community College and the Jewish  Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston. 

                   Next -- on to Milwaukee.  Last year, while the Wisconsin Society for Jewish Learning was planning its 50th anniversary celebration, Alverno College's Asian Studies Initiative was planning to integrate Asian studies into the school curriculum. When Kathy Jenduska from the Society  and Linda Frank from the Sino Judaic Institute got together, the result was a joint venture to import the traveling "Jews of Kaifeng Exhibit"  prepared by the Institute and mount it at the college for three months. When Friend was asked to participate, she was delighted to inform  them that I would be only 90 miles away. Therefore, I presided at the grand opening by lecturing on "The History and Current Status of the  Jews of Kaifeng" which was followed by Chinese New Year's feast of kosher Chinese hors d'oeuvres in the art gallery. I could think of no 
 better way to celebrate our New Year than with this amazing turnout of over 400 who attended.  What happiness to see such tremendous interest among American Jews in the history of the Kaifeng descendants.

                   During my visit to Milwaukee I also spoke to several elementary, high school and college classes, before being interviewed by "The Wisconsin  Jewish Chronicle" (see The Chinese Respect Jewish Achievements, Scholar Says, Feb 3, 2006).

  • EAST COAST: Here, I was busier in private than in public meetings.

  Public Sessions
 At Montclair I participated in the "Forum on International Issues" sponsored by the Global Education Center of the University.  A documentary film: Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness, was shown, followed by a panel discussion with Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, co-author of  The Fugu Plan: the Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews during WWII, and Prof. Kenneth Olenik of the MSU. 

 At CUNY I described reasons why Chinese are interested in Jews at a session of the Proshansky Jewish Studies Seminar Series, chaired by  Professor Samuel Heilman, a long-time friend. The presentation was followed by an interview by Anthony Weiss, a reporter from Forward   (See Chinese Scholar of Judaic Studies Urges Closer Ties, February 17 at http://forward.com/articles/7364)

 Private meetings
                   I met with the following wonderful, helpful people:
                        Dr. Marina Cunningham, Director of the Global Education Center, and her assistant, Wendy Simon. We discussed their summer program in China. 
                        Abigail Tenembaum, Vice President of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (I was newly appointed as its China  representative). We conferred about possible ways to help Chinese to get more familiar with Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands  of Jews during WWII. 
                        Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, Chancellor Emeritus of Hebrew Union College, who has a long interest in seeing the growth of our Center,  has helped us immeasurably.He was most generous in accepting my invitation to keynote the Center dedication November 21, 2006.  
                        We also discussed ways of shipping his library, a most generous gift for our Center, to Nanjing. He also kindly arranged for me to see  and have brunch with Richard Scheuer, a long time sponsor for our Judaic program, in the Tap room of the New York Athletic Club. Mr. Scheuer brought his grandson Joey, a student at NYU who is planning to study Chinese language and culture, and we were joined by Rabbi Leonard Schoolman, the Program Director of the Interfaith Program at St. Barts College, and his wife. Mr. Scheuer was  very interested in learning about the growth of our Center and pledged to sponsor the dedication ceremony. 
                        Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President of the Appeal of Consciousness Foundation and a long time friend of the Chinese. I have met   him each time I visited New York, and his foundation is considering not only  participating in the project to build our Center but his congregation will also present us an appropriate Torah scroll to be displayed for educational purposes in the exhibition hall.  We also discussed possible ways in collaboration with Yeshiva University to translate and publish a number of books reflecting the beliefs and  practices of Orthodox Judaism into Chinese. 
                        Prof. Fred Lazin of Ben Gurion University.He visited and lectured at Nanjing University last September. We discussed my  upcoming visit to Israel for both the participation in the "Hurst Seminar on Jewish Immigration in the 20th Century" in May and the signing of an agreement of exchange programs between our two institutions. 

  • WEST COAST:  Last but far from least:  Los Angeles. 
                   Though originally the mission was to participate in the Jewish Studies program at the University of Judaism as a guest speaker, the highlights  went beyond that.  I met with Nancy Berman, President of the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, and her husband Alan. Happy to renew our friendship, I was now able to thank them for another generous gift from the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation for our Center. I was extremely happy to see Diane and Guilford Glazer, whose generous donation will be commemorated by naming the Center in their  honor. Over lunch at the Jewish Country Club, we spoke of relations between China and Israel, and he assured me that his fund will continue  to support Jewish programs in China. I am most grateful. After that, Diane Glazer once again interviewed me. (The last time was in 1995.) 
                   The interview will be aired on the Diane Glazer Show, a TV interview program broadcast by the Jewish Network.  Rosalie Lurie, Los Angeles Executive Director of Tel Aviv University: American Council, made all this arrangement. 
                    Though the schedule was very tiring, I was still able to spend several enjoyable hours visiting the newly renovated J. Paul Getty Museum.   Thanks to our friends, Joan and Joel Schrier, we were able to get tickets, which are scarce. While it proved impossible to see all the many friends I have in LA, our hosts, Betty and David Welsh, invited everyone for a dessert party on   the eve of our departure. Because of their hospitality, I was able to see another 40 friends who either have been to China or plan to visit this   year. What a way to wind up the visit! 

For detailed descriptions of earlier trips follow these links: