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!

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Cambodia: Lost pastrami of Angkor

It isn’t often anyone writes about Jews and Cambodia in one paragraph, particularly one dating from 1603, but here it is.

In 1603, then Brother Gabriel de San Antonio, in “A Brief and Truthful Relation of Events in the Kingdom of Cambodia” to King Don Philippe, wrote: “at the entrance to the road, (in the same way as we Christians erect crosses) Cambodian people erect high poles at the top of which is a golden snake. They all worship it; their criminals put themselves under its protection and it constitutes a sacred place. If they have a dispute between themselves and they want to contract a new friendship, they bleed, mix their blood in the same vessel and drink it, each one in his turn; then they dip a knife in it, keep it raised, and through ceremony, promise to be of the same blood, to have only one heart and one will, threatening with the knife anybody who would claim to the contrary. That practice, and the custom of putting snakes on the top of masts along the roads as well as that of the monks chanting the chorus seven times originates from some roman Jews who once lived in that kingdom. There are many Jews in the kingdom of china: they are the ones who built, in Cambodia, the city of Angkor which, as I said, was discovered in 1570. They abandoned it when they emigrated to china, according to what the Jews from the East Indies told me when, passing through there, I conversed with them about that matter.”

Who knew?

The blog’s author asks if this was the last time a good pastrami sandwich could be had in Cambodia – where he lives with his wife and baby girl named Aliyah – and proceeds to expound on Venezuela’s Chavez, on a possible Khazar connection and a bit about his own family history:

While the rest of my geneology is a bit obscure (the mid-19th century Mudricks did hail from Byrdichiv in the former Khazaria but I know nothing earlier), the Shapiro line (my mother’s father’s side) is quite well researched. Indeed, Shapiro is one of two dozen family names whose ancestors researchers believe can be traced directly back to King David.

The genealogy of pastrami is featured with this link:

Where does pastrami come from? Is it even a “Jewish” food? Like a lot of food we identify as Jewish, pastrami is a food that was adopted by Jews and has gone through a radical transformation in the immigration process. Originally, Romanian Jews brought the idea of pastrami with them when they came to the US. In Moldavia pastrama is usually a cured, semi-dry smoked meat, usually made from sheep, that can stay unrefrigerated for months. Jews possibly cured their own kosher pastrama as a food that could be carried along on trips where no kosher meat would be available, kind of like kosher beef jerky – chewing on old truck tires is one way to describe the texture for Moldavian peasant pastrama…But the origina of Romanian pastrama lie in the heritage of the Ottoman Empire,which ruled Wallachia and Moldavia for hundreds of rather productive years, at least as far as Wallachia and Moldavia go. The Turks brought pastirma with them – slabs of beef covered in spice paste and then air dried in high mountain curing houses.

The pastrami link could be titled “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Ask About Pastrami and Now You’re Glad You Didn’t Ask.”

Cambodia: Lost pastrami of Angkor

It isn’t often anyone writes about Jews and Cambodia in one paragraph, particularly one dating from 1603, but here it is.

In 1603, then Brother Gabriel de San Antonio, in “A Brief and Truthful Relation of Events in the Kingdom of Cambodia” to King Don Philippe, wrote: “at the entrance to the road, (in the same way as we Christians erect crosses) Cambodian people erect high poles at the top of which is a golden snake. They all worship it; their criminals put themselves under its protection and it constitutes a sacred place. If they have a dispute between themselves and they want to contract a new friendship, they bleed, mix their blood in the same vessel and drink it, each one in his turn; then they dip a knife in it, keep it raised, and through ceremony, promise to be of the same blood, to have only one heart and one will, threatening with the knife anybody who would claim to the contrary. That practice, and the custom of putting snakes on the top of masts along the roads as well as that of the monks chanting the chorus seven times originates from some roman Jews who once lived in that kingdom. There are many Jews in the kingdom of china: they are the ones who built, in Cambodia, the city of Angkor which, as I said, was discovered in 1570. They abandoned it when they emigrated to china, according to what the Jews from the East Indies told me when, passing through there, I conversed with them about that matter.”

Who knew?

The blog’s author asks if this was the last time a good pastrami sandwich could be had in Cambodia – where he lives with his wife and baby girl named Aliyah – and proceeds to expound on Venezuela’s Chavez, on a possible Khazar connection and a bit about his own family history:

While the rest of my geneology is a bit obscure (the mid-19th century Mudricks did hail from Byrdichiv in the former Khazaria but I know nothing earlier), the Shapiro line (my mother’s father’s side) is quite well researched. Indeed, Shapiro is one of two dozen family names whose ancestors researchers believe can be traced directly back to King David.

The genealogy of pastrami is featured with this link:

Where does pastrami come from? Is it even a “Jewish” food? Like a lot of food we identify as Jewish, pastrami is a food that was adopted by Jews and has gone through a radical transformation in the immigration process. Originally, Romanian Jews brought the idea of pastrami with them when they came to the US. In Moldavia pastrama is usually a cured, semi-dry smoked meat, usually made from sheep, that can stay unrefrigerated for months. Jews possibly cured their own kosher pastrama as a food that could be carried along on trips where no kosher meat would be available, kind of like kosher beef jerky – chewing on old truck tires is one way to describe the texture for Moldavian peasant pastrama…But the origina of Romanian pastrama lie in the heritage of the Ottoman Empire,which ruled Wallachia and Moldavia for hundreds of rather productive years, at least as far as Wallachia and Moldavia go. The Turks brought pastirma with them – slabs of beef covered in spice paste and then air dried in high mountain curing houses.

The pastrami link could be titled “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Ask About Pastrami and Now You’re Glad You Didn’t Ask.”