Center in China
China Judaic Studies Association
Promoting Judaic Studies in China
Xu Xin's Trip Reports
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.
2006: U.S. Trip Number 10 ~ Winter of 2006:
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
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).
Here, I was busier in private than in public meetings.
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
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
• 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.
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.)
Last but far from least: Los Angeles.
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
For detailed descriptions of earlier trips follow these links: