Project allofasuddenpartJew: 2013 Recap

As the year 2013 comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the milestones this year for allofasuddenpartJew. From Limmud conferences in Hong Kong and Shanghai, traveling to Japan to visit the Chabad house, and walking around Jewish Lower East Side–I feel I have furthered my understanding of the Jewish people and beliefs.

  • Limmud - A Hebrew word that means learning, I attended my first Limmud conference in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Made a few valuable connections from the Jewish philanthropy and non-profit space.
  • Jewish Japan – Traveled to Japan (My new favorite Asian country) and spent Sukkot at the Chabad House of Tokyo. Many Japanese people are interested in Jewish people. Some Japanese believe they are descendents  of the lost tribes.
  • Melton Mini-School – After an initial Intro to Judaism course at the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong, I felt I needed to go deeper. I enrolled in the Melton Adult Mini-School course at Ohel Leah Synagogue and have enjoyed the teachings from Rabbi Oser.
  • Chinese Studies - Continued my studies in relevant topics. I started to pursue an MA in Chinese Studies at CUHK to deepen my knowledge of China.
  • Jewish New York City - Visited NYC to visit Jewish enclaves like Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.

I have to be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with my social media as much as I would like. My social media stats for as of December 2013 are:

  • Blog – allofasuddenpartJew (83 posts)
  • Facebook – page under the same title (480 Fans)
  • Twitter – account under the same title (285 Followers)

Looking forward to 2014–the year of the horse in Chinese astrology. The horse is a highly respected animal in Chinese culture–one that symbolizes strength, agility, and endurance. Even the German carmaker BMW’s brand name in China is 宝马(Baoma), which literally means treasure horse, contains the character for horse.

Happy New Year 2014!

Chinese Year of the Horse

Chinese Year of the Horse

Project allofasuddenpartJew: 2011 Recap

Earlier this year, over a family gathering in San Jose, I learned that I supposedly had an ancestor who was Jewish.  Great-great-grandfather to be exact mentioned by my mother’s cousin in passing to me. I asked why this was not mentioned earlier, and the response was it was not that important.

I have always been fascinated by different cultures, history, and diversity so it wasn’t long before I became completely absorbed, curious, and obsessed in learning the following 3 things:

  • Genealogy and Family History – confirming, validating, and researching my ‘Jewishness’ through traditional family history research and DNA testing
  • Jewish Culture and History (and how it relates to China) – going to many Jewish events, meeting Jewish people, and reading about Jewish history and culture in and outside of China
  • International Relations – furthering cultural and historical understanding between two groups without politics nor religion.

While I understand my story is still a hypothesis awaiting confirmation; records were not kept to today’s standards and difficult to trace in some areas, my curiosity has not waned but only strengthened over time. I have a soft spot for Jewish (and Japanese) people! Since then I have created three items to help further my learning and goals.

  • Blog – allofasuddenpartJew (29 posts in ~3-5 months)
  • Facebook – page under the same title (272 Fans in ~ 3 months)
  • Twitter – account under the same title (153 Followers in ~ 3 months)

With a recent move to Hong Kong, quitting a job I wasn’t passionate about, and starting grad school, I hope to make 2012 great! I want to touch more Jewish/Chinese fans, non-Jewish/Chinese fans, and spread more cultural understanding and diversity awareness.

**Any mention of Jews and Chinese in this blog solely refers to the cultural and historical aspects of both groups.  I am apolitical and agnostic and do not plan to be political nor religious in the future.**

To birthright or not to birthright, that is the question.

At my regular job in the finance industry, I have a lot of Jewish or quasi-Jewish co-workers.

In passing conversation with our Intern one day, whose dad is Jewish, mentioned to me the Taglit-Birthright Israel organization.  I googled it when I got home and below is a quick summary from their site of what they do:

“Taglit-Birthright Israel provides a gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 from around the world. Taglit Birthright Israel is a unique partnership between private philanthropists through The Birthright Israel Foundation; the people of Israel through the Government of Israel; and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency for Israel).”

Well, I am not in their age range but I did discover “some” Jewish heritage, however small… I wonder if I should apply? How do you prove if you have Jewish heritage or not, I certainly do not look Jewish.

Next steps, I will be checking out their events and going to meet some people involved with this organization.  More to come!

Setting the Scene, some family history

Jewish blood originates from my mother’s side of the family, not too much of a surprise since my grandmother looks “Albanian”. Looking the part is not enough for me, I want to search deeper.

Let’s do the math, great great grandfather, that is 4 generations back. He was probably born in the mid 1800’s, born or traveled to China somehow, probably for business and trade reasons.

Exhibit 1: My maternal grandmother at her youth

The mystery continues…Until next time….

Crashed the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society member meeting…

Being on Twitter really pays off! I found Linda Frank author of After the Auction on Twitter. Saw her tweet about her talk at the SFBAJGS so I decided to pay a special visit. The meeting was held at Beth Israel in South San Francisco, a drive I have taken before to a nearby golf course.

As soon as I walked into the meeting, I got stares and questions of “are you in the right place?” I am Asian female so definitely looked a bit out of place….in a Synagogue. After I explained my reason for being there “searching for a Jewish great great grandfather”…I was welcomed with open arms.

Some random observations:

1. Only Asian

2. Youngest attendee by at least about 15-20 years (I always knew I’m mature for my age)

3. Everyone is passionate about Jewish genealogy

I walked away with so many resources and even got invited to a American Jewish Committee of San Francisco Board Meeting on my birthday on July 18 by Linda Frank. I accepted the invitation immediately. There is also a Jewish library that I will need to check out….

Everyone that I have met so far has been so supportive of my search….can’t wait to dive in more deeply.

Thank you also to Janice Sellers for sending along the contact info of Peter Nash, a famous China Jews expert…

Until next time…:)

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