The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng: A Millennium of Adaptation and Endurance

Edited by Anson H. Laytner and Jordan Paper. Contributions by Alex Bender; Moshe Yehuda Bernstein; Irene Eber; Mathew A. Eckstein; Xianyi Kong; Anson Laytner; Donald Daniel Leslie; Jordan Paper; Andrew Plaks; Mohammed Turki al-Sudairi; Nigel Thomas and Erik Zürcher

This scholarly collection examines the origins, history, and contemporary nature of Chinese Judaism in the community of Kaifeng. These essays, written by a diverse, international team of contributors, explore the culture and history of this thousand-year-old Jewish community, whose synthesis of Chinese and Jewish cultures helped guarantee its survival.

Part I of this study analyzes the origin and historical development of the Kaifeng community, as well as the unique cultural synthesis it engendered.

Part II explores the contemporary nature of this Chinese Jewish community, particularly examining the community’s relationship to Jewish organizations outside of China, the impact of Western Jewish contact, and the tenuous nature of Jewish identity in Kaifeng.


This book attests to the importance of international collaboration with the goal of bringing forth different opinions from diverse perspectives. The contributors thoroughly explore the 1,000-year history of the Kaifeng Jews. Although the existing scholarship on this topic is not scarce, this collection offers fresh information and in-depth analysis of that long history.
— Journal of Global South Studies

The monumental three-volume compilation Chinese Jews: A Compilation of Matters Relating to the Jews of K’aifeng by the Canadian Anglican bishop of Kaifeng William C. White, published in Toronto in 1942, stands out as the first of its kind. . . The detailed analyses and conclusions of Rabbi Laytner perfect our understanding of the situation and are truly enlightening.
— China Review International

A Millennium of Adaptation and Endurance—with these words Anson H. Laytner and Jordan Paper capture exactly why a small community of Chinese Jews in old Kaifeng attracts so much interest. These Jews lasted a thousand years, adapted their Judaism to China, and thus preserved it; they endured. In this important study, twelve scholars explore many aspects of this fascinating encounter between two of the oldest living civilizations.
— Shalom Salomon Wald, Jewish People Policy Institute

This volume breaks new ground in the burgeoning field of Sino-Judaic Studies. Here, for the first time, is an authoritative collection of essays by major scholars piecing together the puzzle of the Kaifeng Jews—arguably one of the most resilient Jewish communities in the world. Spanning over nine centuries of both Chinese and Jewish history, this volume illuminates afresh questions about acculturation, social customs, and religious rituals that enabled a small minority to thrive and to pass down across the generations a kernel of generative identity, which is both genuinely Chinese and deeply Jewish. Drawing upon a wide variety of sources (ancient and modern, oral testimonies and journalistic accounts) this volume provides a fascinating read for the general public and researchers alike.
— Vera Schwarcz, Wesleyan University; author of Colors of Veracity: A Quest for Truth in China, and Beyond

This volume offers new insights and unparalleled perspectives regarding some of the most recent and pressing developments of the Kaifeng Jewish community, which has existed for over a millennium. In this seminal collection, the contributors unveil the Jewry of Kaifeng, from ancient times to the current crisis. Clear, persuasive, and thought-provoking, this book is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the unique role of the Kaifeng Jews in the history of Jewish diaspora. In short, this study is an invaluable contribution to the existing literature.
— Xu Xin, Nanjing University

This collection is a magnificent and accurate examination of the epic story of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng, as told by the topics leading scholars. This up-to-date book is a valuable addition to this most fascinating yet little-known community. Readers will be most appreciative and indebted to the two outstanding editors of this volume.
— Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, author of The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews during World War II