The cemetery, with about 600 tombstones engraved in Russian and Yiddish, was built in 1903 in the city center and was transferred outside the city in 1958 . In 1992, after the establishment of relations between Israel and China, it was renovated.
Archeological evidence points to a Jewish presence in China as early as the 8th century, when Jewish merchants traveled the Silk Road from Persia and India . Many travelers, including Marco Polo in the 13th century, reported meeting Jews . During the Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644 ) , a Ming emperor conferred seven surnames on the Jews, which still identify them today : Ai, Lao, Jin, Li, Shi, Zhang and Zhao . Shi and Jin are the equivalent of common Jewish names in the west : Stone and Gold .
http :// www . jewish - holiday . com / kaifeng . html
It is believed that the ancestors of the Kaifeng Jews came from Central Asia. The uninterrupted existence of this religious and ethnic group, living for over 700 years in socio-cultural surroundings strongly dominated by Confucian moral and ethical principles, is a unique phenomenon in Chinese and Jewish history.
Kaifeng descendant’s mezuzah In spite of a lack of formal religious practice, Kaifeng Jews have a sense of ethnic identity . Some list their children as " Youtai " ( Jewish ) on government documents next to a spot where they might have written " Han " ( Ethnic Chinese ) , and are happy to meet foreign visiting Jews .
In his 1992 documentary series Legacy, historian Michael Wood walked down a small lane in Kaifeng that he said is known as the "alley of the sect who teach the Scriptures", that is, of the Jews. He mentioned that there are still Jews in Kaifeng today, but that they are reluctant to reveal themselves "in the current political climate." The documentary's companion book further states that one can still see a "mezuzah on the door frame, and the candelabrum in the living room."
THE RABBI SUPERVISING THE LOADING OF THE TORAH HE BROUGHT ALL THE WAY FROM THE STATES We actually did make a little history, because as far as we are aware, a torah which was carried from the States by Rabbi Franklin, was read on the Shabbat Service on Saturday morning. He believed that this was the first time a torah was read on Shabbat in Harbin in 50 or so years . To me that Saturday morning service was the highlight of our tour( Charles ) .