Is there a Jewish cure for flu?

Dear readers,

I am writing this week from the comfort of my iPhone and bed. Somehow on the way back to Hong Kong, I caught the flu. I am resting now and recovering. It takes 14 days so will just be a hermit for another week or so.

Some things on my mind this week are my upcoming trip to Israel. Major issues in the Jewish world and what we can do to improve it. Lastly, how I need to recover from flu this week so I can make a Junk Trip that I signed up for next Saturday (😄). (google Hong Kong junk trips for more info)

Until next week readers!
xoxo

Qing Ming, Seth Cohen, Limmud Shanghai & More

Hi all, this week I am reporting live from Shanghai, China!

I’m here this week for reasons two-fold.  First, the Chinese holiday Qing Ming, the Day to honor our ancestors.  I visited my grandparents’ gravesite with family, made offerings of food, burned candles, offered money and said prayers in their honor.  Second, I’m here for Limmud Shanghai conference.  Per my previous post Limmud was awesome and so was Mr. Clive Lawton, this is my second Limmud conference in my continuous beginner’s Jewish journey.

The first day of Limmud Shanghai took place in the ancient town of Qibao (七宝) literally translated to mean the city of Seven Treasures.  I met Jewish friends from all over the world, England, Israel, United States, etc.  It was fun to attend all the various educational sessions. A sampling of them can be found here. A highlight of the first two days was I got to meet the well-spoken Mr. Seth Cohen. (BTW Follow him on Twitter @sethacohen33) Mr. Cohen, Director of Network Initiatives at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation gave a talk on Using your Networks to Create Collective Impact-a session that was as interesting as it was insightful.  His session reminded me of a recent book that I read called Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. Mr. Cohen is very inclusive and made everyone feel involved in his interactive learning experience.  He pointed out that while organizations are valuable in their own right, it is the individuals who often serve as the “Tipping Point” in creating worthwhile change.  I second his POV.

After lunch on Day 2, I was able to grab a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk.  He was very curious about how I got my Twitter name allofasuddenpartJew and I told him the family story. Personally, I find Mr. Cohen to be a very nice human being, plenty kind and generous. From him, I learned a few lessons.  I need to write more, more often, and regularly.  More opinion pieces on the Jewish world from my Chinese perspective.  He said himself that he was a blogger first before he joined the Schusterman Family Foundation.  His writing gave the older Jewish community a perspective they otherwise would never see.  We need more people like him!

As of now it is still Shabbat, I am at home writing this blog post.  Tonight, I plan to have dinner with some Shanghai friends and then attend the Limmud Young Professionals Happy Hour.  Tomorrow will be a packed agenda. It is the Destination Shanghai portion titled Global Jewish Responsibility: Shanghai, The Jewish People and JDC.  Per the Limmud pamphlet, “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Hongkou Ghetto and is an appropriate moment to examine the unique relationship of Shanghai with the Jewish people, past, present, and future.” There will be a guided tour through the ghetto, several lectures, and a Special Memorial Day Event commemorating this anniversary.  I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and share with you all!

Happy weekend! xoxo

 

 

Let’s Celebrate the Year of the Snake: Chinese New Year 101

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

For my many non-Chinese readers, tomorrow (10th of February) is the first day of the Year of the Snake, the Chinese or Lunar New Year.

Just like the Jews, the Chinese has its own New Years based on the lunar calendar correlated on the phases of the moon. Most Chinese have about one week of holiday and most travel home to see family. On New Year’s Eve, a dinner is served with close friends and family. Children and young adults receives Hong Bao or red envelopes full of money! I used to love it but now I’m an adult unfortunately….

Are you born in 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001? You have the sign in the Year of the Snake. According to the TravelChinaGuide, people born under the Snake sign have the following strengths:

  • “…have a good temper and a skill (of) communicating (yet) say(ing) little
  • Possess gracious morality and great wisdom
  • Have tremendous sympathy for others and would like to take actions to help ther fellow human beings
  • Determined to accomplished their goals and hate to fail
  • Although they look calm on the surface, they are intense and passionate
  • Have a rich source of inspiration and understand themselves well
  • Are people of great perception

A great list of positive characteristics isn’t it?

If you are a snake, you are compatible romantically with Roosters and Oxen.

Ok, I better go pack for my trip to Shanghai tomorrow. Happy Chinese New Year from me to you!

Source: Sassy Hong Kong

Chinese New Year Carnival Snake on display in Hong Kong

 

Mahjong’s Magic Casts a Growing Spell

Look what’s cooking in Chongqing, the Third World Mahjong Championships!

Mahjong enthusiasts from all over the world are gathered in Chongqing to play to win.  Read more.

Mahjong’s magic casts a growing spell[1]| Cover Story.

Journey into the Jews of China’s Past: Kaifeng (开封)

Technology is wonderful but it can also cause major havoc!  Case in point, I took my iPhone with me to Kaifeng, took many videos and photos.  I left it in Shanghai and did not have any access to my Shanghai and Kaifeng notes, videos, nor photos for over 1 month.

Kaifeng (开封)

I headquartered myself in Zhengzhou and took a bus to Kaifeng.  The first day that I was there, I visited the Chinese portion of the city.  Many temples, former palaces (now under water), and the Kaifeng Museum. **Henan is the province south of the Huang He (River) and it gets flooded often.**  I saw a picture of the former Kaifeng Synagogue but could not find the former site of the synagogue, only the surrounding area with a hospital that now takes its place.

The second day I called up Esther, a descendent of the Jews of Kaifeng, WSJ article (Chinese Jews Face Existential Questions) and visited the Kaifeng Jewish Memorial Center.  It is located in a tiny hutong (胡同) or alleyway called Nanjiaojing or South Teaching the Torah Lane. Esther was friendly and kind and showed me the Center with all sorts of Jewish knickknacks, books, and memorabilia on the walls.  Her family is from India and they moved to Kaifeng over 1000 years ago to do business with the Chinese. If you didn’t know already, Kaifeng and China at the time was the center of culture and civilization in the world.  People from all over the world moved to Kaifeng, China looking for opportunities (not just Jews). [Sort of like the USA today :)]

Over the years, Jews of Kaifeng integrated seamlessly into Chinese society and lived peacefully side-by-side with the Chinese.  In the beginning they kept to themselves and married other Jews, but starting with the Ming Dynasty (1368?) they were required to assimilate with the Chinese, as the Ming Emperor only allowed Chinese people to live in China.  Slowly the Jews of China lost its core culture and with the major flood in the late 19th Century, went their synagogue.  Now only one of a handful left, Esther is passionate about her cause and speaks with force about her family and people’s history.  Pictures of notable Jewish and Israeli visitors spread throughout the walls serve as proof of its importance in Jewish Culture.

She is looking to rebuild the synagogue that was lost in the great flood in the late 19th Century.  Now let’s help her cause and change the minds of people by educating them about Jewish history in China.

Enjoy the photos. For more photos, visit my Flickr

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Ancient Chinese Jews in Kaifeng and Shaolin Kung Fu Here I come!

Visiting Hongkou in Shanghai was fun.  The gift shopkeeper, the guards, and the administrative officers were all so knowledgeable about Chinese Jewish history.  I am writing an opinion article on HongKou. (coming soon!)

In the meantime, intensive Mandarin classes finished and I finally booked train tickets to Zhengzhou (郑州), capital of Henan* (河南) province.  Henan is notable for its historical importance; namely Kaifeng* (开封) was China’s capital during the Song Dynasty (宋朝).  It will be a six-hour train ride from Shanghai to Zhengzhou. I am going headquarter myself in Zhengzhou and take daytrips to Kaifeng, Shaolin Si, and Luoyang. This should be a good trip.  I will be blogging in realtime so hope you will follow me next week! ;-) Until next time!

Henan Trip route

Henan Trip route

*Random Factoids/Chinese Lesson:

  • 开封 or Kaifeng means Open and Close literally.  To break open a seal…
  • 河南 or Henan means South of the River literally.  A province south of the River (Yellow River)

Shanghai Jewry: HongKou

Entry TicketThe Road to the MuseumFrontview: Living QuartersOld Living QuartersOfficial Museum SignEntryway into Ohel Moshe
Red Carpet inside the SynagogueFrom the Rabbi's SeatOverlooking the Info RoomsFamous Shanghai JewsInside the Info RoomMap of HongKou District
Famous Jews that lived in the Shanghai Jewish QuartersMenorah in the Dark...Asian Jewish Sympathy ;)History Floor MapOld Jewish Newspaper!Info Room 1
The shopkeeper was my guideRestored Ohel Moshe SynagogueThe Helpful ShopkeeperSuch a great selectionShop Manager and Museum GuardA Jewish Girl in Shanghai Comic Book

Shanghai Jewry: HongKou, a set on Flickr.

Here is a visual tour of HongKou. Shanghai’s former Jewish ghetto during WWII. Includes surrounding neighborhood, Ohel Moshe, and Information Rooms

How to Relocate to Asia 101: Beta Version 1.0

How to Relocate to Asia 101:  Beta Version 1.0

Einstein (one of the most famous Jews in history) once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” That is the approach that I have decided to take when it comes to the “How to Relocate to Asia 101: Beta Version 1.0

Notes before moving any further:

  1. As my intelligent Social Science professor says, all theories or approaches need to be tested.  This is Beta version 1.0
  2. I am open to your feedback on making this better
  3. The profiles below are generalizations

Know Thy Self, Which Profile fits You?

Beginners are usually:

OBC, ABC, OBA (Overseas-born Chinese, American-born Chinese, Overseas-born Asian), Non Asian without any Asian experience, conservative, low tolerance threshold, less openness, less risk taking, English is the only language spoken and not willing to learn another language, prefers Western-style freedoms and Rule of Law individuals should consider the following:

Intermediates are usually:

Somewhat curious about Asia, perhaps spent some time vacationing in Asia or during childhood, open to new experiences, speaks multiple languages, open to learning or adjusting a bit should consider the following:

Advanced are usually:

People who are willing to do whatever it takes to blend into the local culture.  Whether through learning the language, understanding the culture, winning natives over etc.  People who are adaptive, resilient and flexible.  Tolerance for the fast pace of change, pollution and native personalities.  High-risk taking means high rewards people should consider the following:

Niche are usually:

I know of many Japanophiles (I’m one) and Korea Lovers.  Niches are people who just love Japan or Korea because of its unique language, culture and advanced economy.  They already or are learning to speak Korean and Japanese or are fans of Japanese and Korean dramas, technologies, and pop culture.

Which one fits your profile?

Experience First World Asia in Korea and Japan

So you want to relocate to Asia Part 5: Japan and the Korea

This is no April Fools joke, I have never been to Japan or Korea. They are both top destinations on my list of places to go. So, will get there soon enough since I’m much closer now than before.

I have read a lot about Korea and Japan, below is the condensed version with resources from around the web.

Note: Korea here refers to South Korea only.

Best Selling Point: Korea and Japan are both advanced economies in Asia with unique Asian cultures

  • Japan is a member of the original G7 of world most developed economies (high standard of living)
  • Korea is the 14th ranked economy in the world by nominal GDP (high standard of living)
  • Japan and Korea both have their own distinctive culture, language, and way of life that is unique in Asia

Worst Selling Point: mmmm, I’m not sure if there is one here but below are some of what I have heard

  • Living in Japan can be rewarding but socially isolating if you do not learn some Japanese and make an effort
  • Japanese people drink a lot, so do Koreans
  • Japan is earthquake and tsunami country!
  • Korea’s neighbor is North Korea, who knows what is going to happen there next

Below is a selection of sites on Japan and Korea for relocations

Japan

Mount Fuji with Cherry Blossoms in the Spring

Mount Fuji with Cherry Blossoms in the Spring

Korea

Seoul in the Night

Next installment will be the final process or system to approach moving to Asia.  There are so many different perspectives, but hopefully mine will be the simplest and the most efficient. We shall see!

Mainland China Cities are not for the Faint of Heart

So you want to relocate to Asia Part 4: Mainland China

Do you speak or are open to learning Mandarin? Can you tolerate some pollution? Do you have thick skin? Do you have street smarts? Are you okay with constant change? Are you open-minded? Are you resilient and flexible?

If you have answered yes to most of the question above, a city in Mainland China may work for you.

I’m going to focus on mainland China overall. The country is large, vast and different. For the purpose of this exercise, I’m going to keep it as generic and high-level as I can for the length.

Best Selling Point: There may never be another China

  • Once in a lifetime chance to live in the fastest growing economy in the world
  • Vast amounts of business opportunities for those with gut and glory
  • Incredible fast pace of life and constant change

Worst Selling Point: All the downsides of a developing economy

  • Pollution is high
  • Moral and character issues of ‘some people’
  • Upside is high, so is the downside
  • Not too sure about the government and its long-term prospects

Here is the rest: (a small selection only)

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