“I was having a deja vu of Rua da Emenda while photographing the Carmel Market. While walking along the base of Fortaleza do Monte, I thought about the walls of the Old City. Was it just my illusion? Where I see similarities, I see differences. I do not know where I am anymore. Here or There, it is hard to tell.”
We met photographer Mina Ao back in December 2012 at Livraria Portuguesa Gallery, in Macau, during her exhibition there. Here or There is a beautiful collection of her photography from Israel and Macau created between 2007 and 2012.
Mina is originally from Macau, married to an Israeli and living in the United States. She feels at home in all three places as they represent different parts of her identity.
This exhibition explores the similarities and differences between two seeminingly different cultures. It offers an insightful perspective on what it means to be be a global citizen and on the beauty of the seemingly mundane. She carefully juxtaposes images that represent each of these cultures though when she intitially photographed the scenes, she wans't looking for anything imparticular nor was she looking to eventually pair them. The collection is a work of reflection.
A look through her lens, whether you are in Macau or Israel or elsewhere, will offer the viewer a new way of seeing street scenes and every day life. It will help viewers find beauty where they live and a piece of home wherever their travels take them.
To see more of Mina’s work, please visit: www.minaao.net and www.israelmacau.com.
There have been a number of recent articles on the Jews of Bollywood and even a new documentary, 'Shalom Bollywood’, that will tell their story.
The beautiful images here feature a rare look at Jews on the Indian stage. They are all part of Stephanie Comfort's vintage postcard collection from Calcutta India Jewish Theatre. There will be other images from this collection in the upcoming print issue of Asian Jewish Life (June 2013, Issue 12).
A very special thank you to Stephanie for her permission to include these in AJL but especially for making her collection public. Stephanie has been collecting postcards of Jewish life, synagogues and towns from around the world for many years. Tour her incredible 15,000+ Jewish postcard collection at http://jewishpostcardcollection.com. It is truly remarkable.
There are countless jokes about Jews' love for Chinese food. Many have examined this connection and attempt to explain it: a shared immigrant experience, pockets of American Jewry living side by side to Chinese Americans, Chinese restaurants being the only places open on Christmas, a shared obsession of food, cultures that connect food and family, and the absence of dairy products in Chinese cuisine makes it easy to kosher. Whatever the rationale, the connection is certainly well documented.
Agreed, Jews love Chinese food but we have stumbled on enthusiasts who take this a step further. They are on a quest: The Chinese Quest. They are “five hungry Jewish guys'” searching “for the Best Chinese Restaurant on Long Island (NY)” and have dedicated their blog to exactly this purpose. http://www.thechinesequest.com
And what is trendier now than fusion? If The Chinese Quest ever enters the restaurant business, they have their Chinese-American/Jewish-American Chewish menu concept menu already sorted out:
While its not all kosher (some schlock in the wok), it is definitely fun!
There are many comparisons between Jews and Chinese. There are a number of references to commonality based on the fact that both groups can trace their history to ancient people, have strong family connections, place an extremely high emphasis on education, have experienced diasporas and have cited similarities in wisdom and teachings.
This morning on the web a headline read:
Today’s Chinese shoppers are the American Jews of the 1950s, says American Apparel http://qz.com/91346/todays-chinese-shoppers-are-the-american-jews-of-the-1950s-says-american-apparel/
The article goes on to say, “ Charney’s prime example: the newly wealthy Jewish communities in Canada and the US after World War II. “You see that with the Jews in the 1950s. At first, they want to show they got the money… over time people reject brands,” he says. Charney, who grew up Jewish in Canada, said he learned from his mother that it was “classless” to show exterior branding.”
Is it an important fact that the founder and head of American Apparel, Dov Charney, is Jewish? Does this make a difference? Is this comparison softened by this fact? Is this type of comparison damaging?
In reality, the article (though the headline suggests otherwise) isn’t about comparing Jews and Chinese at all. It offers an observation on the spending habits and consumer choices made by the nouveau riche. It is about generalizing the mentality of so-called ‘new money’. The comparison however makes for a much better headline.
And, while we are on the topic (sort of), Charney’s Asian-Jewish connections don’t end there…
(Advert from American Apparel on Tumblr)
Elsa High School, part of Hong Kong’s Carmel School Association, held its first graduation on 21 May 2013. This was a first for Hong Kong Jewry, being home to the Far East’s only Jewish secondary school. The last time a Jewish school held a high school graduation in the greater China region was nearly 70 years ago in Shanghai.
The question inevitably is how big was this graduating class? While the answer to that is four, it is not only four. This is the first of many graduates in a school built on a community’s dreams.
Graduation keynote speaker Yotam Polizer, of IsraAID, gave a speech of particular relevance to question of the size of this class. He spoke of the relative size of Israel in comparison to other countries and the relative minute size of the number of Jewish people in the world, but the greatness in terms of capacity and the ability for Jews to make a difference irrespective of numbers. It was a message of the Jewish people’s ability to act as a positive force for change in the world, of tikkun olam. He spoke of his own passion for the field of humanitarian aid and the difference that one small act can make in another’s life.
The school is evidence of making the seemingly impossible into a reality. The founders see this as just a start and evidence of what even a small community can accomplish. The Carmel School Association, from its very start, made the decision to adopt an Orthodox ethos but to maintain a pluralistic admissions policy. While this can be seen as merely a sensible decision given the challenges of attracting a critical mass from a community of only 4000-5000 Jews total, it is also actually a statement as to how tightknit this community is.
With one Jewish community center and one school, this community that is diverse in terms of national identity, mother tongue, affiliation and observance levels has built a Jewish center for 21st learning that can boast an IB program, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation, state-of-the-art technology and certainly not least of all Jewish education and very Jewish values in the Far East.