Hong Kong: ‘Asian Jewish Life,’ spring issue online

On my recent Hong Kong visit, I met with editor-in-chief Erica Lyons of “Asian Jewish Life: A Journal of Spirit, Society and Culture.”

The new AJL spring 2010 issue is now online with stories covering India, Shanghai, Cambodia, foodies, book reviews, film and more.

“Asian Jewish Life is a contemporary journal of Jewish diaspora life throughout Asia. As Jews in Asia we are but a tiny minority unified by tradition, a love for Israel, common contemporary concerns and shared values. While Asian Jewish Life is a common media forum designed to share regional Jewish thoughts, ideas and culture and promote unity, it also celebrates our individuality and our diverse backgrounds and customs.”

Here’s the table of contents (read each online or download the PDF at the link above):

— Inbox: Your letters
— Letter from the Editor
— India Journal- Life with the Bene Ephraim (Bonita Nathan Sussman and Gerald Sussman)
— Eating Kosher Dog Meat: Jewish in Guiyang (Susan Blumberg-Kason)
— Through the Eyes of ZAKA (Jana Daniels)
— Interview: Ambassador Yaron Mayer

— Replanting Roots in Shanghai: Architect Haim Dotan’s journey (Erica Lyons)
— A Palate Grows in Brooklyn: Birth of a foodie (Sandi Butchkiss)
— Poetry by Rachel DeWoskin
— The Death Penalty: What Asia can learn from Judaism (Michael H. Fox)
— Learning to Speak: A cross-cultural love story (Tracy Slater)
— Book Reviews (Susan Blumberg-Kason)
— Places I Love
— Expat Diary: Raising a Jewish Child in Cambodia (Craig Gerard)
— Film in Focus

Each article provides a diverse look into life in Asia, with a Jewish “hook.” Tracing the Tribe will always remember the line “tenderloin of my heart,” from Tracy Slater’s “Learning to Speak.”

Readers and writers with Jewish Asian experiences are invited to submit articles; click here for more information.

If you enjoyed this issue (the winter issue is also online), let Erica know, and tell her you learned about AJL at Tracing the Tribe. Feedback is always welcome.

A great issue, Erica!


Hong Kong: Markets, magazines and more

Erica Lyons – who has been here for some seven years with her family – and I went to an old temple – I love the smell of incense – and a walk through the market.

We later met some of our dining companions from the other night for a fabulous vegetarian dim sum lunch.

Erica, a lawyer by training, is editor-in-chief and publisher of the new Asian Jewish Life: A Journal of Spirit, Society and Culture.

The now-quarterly free publication – hopefully to become more frequent – focuses on the Jewish experience in Asia. It is handed out on El Al flights from Asia in business and first. It is also online.

She gave me a copy of the 40-page premier issue which features an excellent group of articles by some very interesting writers, covering artists, book reviews, personal stories and much more. Read it online at the link above.

Erica (photo right) is also on the board of the Hong Kong Jewish Historical Society, and shared some information about the century-old Jewish cemetery, which I hope to visit Friday morning.

I have discussed the possibility of forming a Jewish genealogical society here under the auspices of the historical society. I hope to meet more of the historical society members when I return through HK from Australia towards the end of March.

Sephardim: Museum of Family History exhibits

The virtual Museum of Family History also has material for researchers of Sephardim.

Holocaust Memorials in Havana and Santa Clara, Cuba

Synagogues of Asia: Burma, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkey [Asian side].

Synagogues of Turkey: (European side of Istanbul)

Synagogues of Spain. The photo at left is the El Transito Synagogue in Toledo.

— Postcards from Home: Turkey

Museum creator Steve Lasky wishes to include more pre-war family photos. Readers with such photos are invited to contact Steve.

Museum of Family History – New in January

Steve Lasky of the virtual Museum of Family History updates what’s new at the site:

“The Jews of Asia.” Visit “Synagogues and Memorials.” See photographs from the 1990s-2000s) from Hong Kong and Shanghai, China; Bombay (Mumbai) and Cochin (Kochi) in India; Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar), Singapore, Tajikistan, Lebanon and Istanbul, Turkey (i.e. the Asian side of the Bosphorus).

— All sections of the 1905/1907 book “The Immigrant Jew in America” is now available. Read about Russian Jews in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.

— Anti-Semitism in Europe – Letters from Leipzig: Within six years before the start of WWII, non-Jewish German woman named Ilse Gerngrofs wrote four letters to a Jewish friend in New Zealand (not knowing she was Jewish). They serve as an example of pre- and post-Hitler era anti-Semitic sentiments that existed in Germany. Although ofensive, they are worth reading.

Synagogues of Europe: Greece: Athens, Corfu, Rhodes and Thesssalonika; Spain: Madrin and Toledo; Ukraine: Husiatyn and Zastavna.

Newspaper Archives: More than 100 articles are in the archives. More than two dozen were published (1880s-1906) about the Lower East Side (Manhattan). Learn what it was like a century ago. There are two 1903 film clips showing street scenes.

Pogroms: A reminder about the table of 1903-1906 pogroms (some 250 towns and cities), and the introduction and commentary about this history in the American Jewish Year Book (1906-7).

Questions about any material? Write to Steve.

Take some time to explore the site, and sign up for email alerts for his blog.

Museum of Family History: Jews of Asia

Tracing the Tribe is very happy to see a new exhibit at the cyber Museum of Family History – “The Jews of Asia.”

Many Jews – both Ashkenazim and Sephardim – lived in various Asian countries.

Steve Lasky indicated that aspects of Jewish life will be presented.

The first offering is “Synagogues and Memorials.” Although incomplete, viewers can now see contemporary photos from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bombay/Mumbai, Cochin/Kochi, Rangoon, Singapore and Istanbul. More will be added.

The photo above left is one of the Sephardic Torahs from Ohel Leah in Hong Kong; some scrolls date to the 18th century.

On August 7, 1901, Abraham Jacob Raymond, senior member of E. D. Sassoon & Co, laid the foundation stone of the new Sassoon-sponsored synagogue on land donated by brothers Jacob, Edward and Meyer Sassoon. It was named after their mother, Leah Gubbay Sassoon.

In 1995, a modern Jewish community center opened next to it. In 1998, the historic synagogue (below) was carefully restored (at a cost of US$6 million) to its original form. It is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Steve asks Tracing the Tribe readers to think about sharing photos they may have taken for places not currently listed. Reach Steve via email.

Tracing the Tribe has often written about Asian Jewish communities. Use the search box and plug in the city and/or country of interest and see what’s already been covered here.

World Jewish Studies: Italian section

An extensive section at the conference focused on the Italian Jewish community, in cooperation with ASSEI (The Israeli Association for the Study of History of Italian Jews)

Here are some of the categories and lectures (E=English, H=Hebrew):

The attitude towards the other in Italy
Silvia Cappelletti (E) The Expulsions of the Jews from Rome under Tiberius and Claudius: A Juridical Study
Yosef A. Cohen (H) The Place of the Apostate Alessandro Franceschi in the Jesuit Mission to Italian Jewry in the First Half of the 16th Century
Francesco Spagnolo (E) Participants-Observers: Christian Presences in Italian Synagogue Life
Itzhak Sergio Minerbi (H) Pope Benedict XVI and the Jews

Jewish Thought and Society in Italy
Pier Gabriele Mancuso (E) Sefer Yetzirah: Early Jewish Mysticism
Lea Naomi Vogelmann Goldfeld (H) Mordechai Shmuel Ghirondi, Rabbi of Padova, Scholar and Kabbalist
Asher Salah (E) From Odessa to Florence: Elena Comparetti Raffalovich and Jewish Russian Intellectuals in Post-Risorgimento Italy
Cristina Michal Bettin (E) Jewish Youth in Italy: Between Integrations and Assimilation, 1861–1938
Anna-Dorothea Ludewig (E) Marranism and Identity Construction in 19th-Century German-Jewish Literature
Paola Ferruta (E) “New Marranism” and the Encounter Between Jews and Universalism
Marina Arbib (H) The Diaries of Gershom Scholem: A Jewish Intellectual Shapes His Identity
Amir Ashur (H) Developments in the Status of Jewish Women in 12th-Century Egypt as Portrayed in Prenuptial Agreements from the Cairo Genizah
Avraham David (H) Culture and Trade Connection Between Egypt and Crete in the Late Middle Ages, as Reflected in Cairo Genizah Documents

There is also another list that didn’t seem to be categorized, but included the following very interesting topics:

Joseph Rapaport, “The Leadership of the Jewish Community in the Kingdom of Navarre Before the Expulsion”
Yosef Hacker, “Charles the Eighth, the Conquest of Italy and Hispano-Jewish Aspirations on the Eve of the 16th Century”
Luis Cortese, “Isidore of Seville, Thomas Aquinas, and Alonso de Cartagena on Forced Conversion”
Ahuva Ho, “Alfonso de Zamora: an Apostate in the Service of the Church”
Ricardo Munoz Solla, “Conversos burgaleses: Historia de una silenciosa presencia (siglos XV-XVI)”
Samuela Marconcini, “Tolerance and Anti-Judaism: the Politics of Conversion to Catholicism in Tuscany Between the Seventeenth and the Nineteenth Centuries”
Matteo Al Kalak, “The “House of Catechumens” in Modena between Dukes and Popes (1583-1797)”
Ilaria Pavan, “The “House of Catechumens” in Modena during the Emancipation Age (1804-1941)”
Yosef Kaplan, “The Building of Sephardic Communities in the “Confessionalization Era”: A Comparative Approach”
Anita Waingort Novinsky, “A Critical Approach to Sephardic Historiography: The Forgotten Marranos of America”
Jose Alberto Rodrigues Da-Silva Tavim, “A Troublesome Theme: The Jews and the Intelligence Networks in Portugal’s Asian Empire In the 16th Century”
Schulamith C. Halevy, “Los Trevino: a `Tribe of Sefarditas’ in El Nuevo Reino de Leon District”
Asaf Ashkenazi, “Historia general de las Indias”
Limor Munz-Manor, “The Old World and the New”: The Jewish Discourse on America in 16th-Century Italy”
Claude B. Stuczynski, “Jews and Judaism in the Juridical Debates on Amerindians in 16th-Century Spanish-America”

Women and Widows
Tirtsah Levie-Bernfeld, “Sephardi Widows in Early Modern Amsterdam”
Ruth Lamdan, “Widows, Old and Respected Women in Ottoman Jewish Society”
Michal Ben Ya’akov, “From Marginality to Opportunity: Widows in Nineteenth Century Eretz-Israel”

What a wide panorama of topics addressing women, history, America, pre-Expulsion issues, conversion and much more!

Tracing the Tribe believes that Jewish history and genealogy cannot be separated. Each helps us learn about the other and to understand events on a very personal level as we realize that our own ancestors may have lived through those exact events and in those places.

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