• A Look at IsraAID’s Mission in Tacloban (Photos)

    by  • 14/11/2013 • 0 Comments


    This is just a small selection of photos from IsraAID’s mission in Tacloban. This is the area now referred to as Haiyan's Ground Zero. A few hours ago an additional team of 7 IsraAID medical professionals also landed in Cebu.

    IsraAID is part of an international relief effort working in the area hardest hit. The devestation is unbelievable and these teams of rescue workers face incredible challenges.





    Please continue to follow us for updated information on the work IsraAID is doing.

    You can help support the IsraAID relief mission in the Philippines through their campaign on Global Giving at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/aid-to-the-philippines-after-typhoon-yolanda/

    India Spices Limmud Up

    by  • 14/11/2013 • 0 Comments

    Limmud India 2013 305

    Following a representative participation in the regional Limmud China in Beijing in 2012 and in Shanghai in 2013, the Indian Jewish community of Mumbai created their own local event in early November 2013. With the sponsorship of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), this community’s inaugural Limmud event drew in 115 adults and 17 children as registered participants. A parallel Young Limmud kept the children occupied while the adults took full advantage of the opportunity to learn, engage and socialize in the dynamic environment that they created for themselves.

    Limmud India 2013 271

    As community member and Limmud organizer Florence Haeems explains, she was interested in helping bring Limmud to the community because she was attracted to the idea of being able to present a session, participate in other sessions and then to also volunteer. And this is exactly what the Limmud experience is about. As Haeems says, “it beautifully comes together.”

    The nine individual sessions while presenting wider Jewish issues and topics, also were representative of a very distinct local flavor. Key sessions included topics such as: Healthy Jewish Cooking, a Panel Discussion on Successful Jews in Business and session on the Future of the Indian Jewish community.

    Limmud India 2013 112

    The event was an incredible unifying force and a source of positive energy for Jewish India on both an individual and a communal level. Individual participants felt empowered by the increased sense of ownership that they gained over their own Jewish learning and were likewise inspired by truly being part of something so much greater.  

    As Nurith Samuel, another organizer explained, “I experienced Limmud in all its exuberance during the earlier half of this year at Shanghai. What I loved about Limmud was the feeling of being involved, accepted and responsible for the program, starting right at the registration desk itself! As both a participant and volunteer at Limmud, I was responsible for my own learning as well as ensuring that my co-participants and volunteers had positive learning outcomes. This feeling of being responsible for oneself as well as others in your environment pushed me into thinking about organizing a Limmud India. As part of the small Bene Israel community in Mumbai, I have come to value the idea of being responsible for others and hope that at the end of Limmud India some participants come to value this idea too.”

    Overall, Salome Abraham, JDC staff member as well as a Limmud team member/ organizer summarized, “An event like Limmud India brings together people of ages and backgrounds. For the first time, we witnessed young professionals, accomplished businessmen, children, families, and college students all together under one roof…It was a chance for this community to strengthen the network of Jewish individuals who come together from time to time to celebrate their Jewish identity and feel responsible for their people and take steps in that direction.”

    Limmud India 2013 204

    Limmud India 2013 147


    The JDC’s Super Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts (and how you can help)

    by  • 12/11/2013 • 0 Comments

    By November 9, 2013, in the immediate aftermath of super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (called Typhoon Yolanda there), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) had already begun collecting funds for relief efforts.

    “Our heartfelt prayers go out to the Filipino people in the wake of yesterday’s deadly storm. We immediately activated our network of global partners and will leverage our previous experience in the region to provide immediate, strategic relief to survivors in their time of need,” said Alan H. Gill, JDC’s Chief Executive Officer.

    And while many international aid organizations are responding to this crisis, working in the Philippines post-disaster isn’t new territory for the JDC. They also helped to fight post-typhoon cholera in the Philippines through an Israeli partner in 2009.

    But the JDC’s history in the Philippines extends far beyond that. The JDC ensured the emigration of more than 1,000 European Jews escaping Nazi persecution to the island nation during World War II. The story of European Jews who took refuge was the subject of “Rescue in the Philippines,” a recently released documentary and this remarkable story will also be featured in the forthcoming issue of Asian Jewish Life.

    JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including to a number of regional efforts, namely in Japan following the tsunami there in 2011 and in South Asia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Their partnerships with local NGOs demonstrates their longstanding commitment to the region.

    jap11.03JDC-JEN DSCF2940JDC partnership with JEN in Sendai, Japan. Hot meals being served to the evacuees. (Photo credit: JEN/JDC)

    They are now looking for contributions specifically for their relief efforts in the Philippines.

    To Make a Contribution:

    Online: www.jdc.org

    By Phone: 212-687-6200

    JDC Typhoon Haiyan Relief

    P.O. Box 4124

    New York, NY 10163

    United States

    (Please make check payable to JDC Typhoon Haiyan Relief)


    The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum visits Chicago

    by  • 11/11/2013 • 0 Comments

    This autumn, a traveling exhibit from the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum stopped in three cities in the United States and Susan Blumberg-Kason was lucky enough to be in attendance for the opening in Chicago. The exhibition debuted at New York’s Rockefeller Center for a week in September. In October it continued on to Chicago’s...

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    Do We Need Holocaust Education in Hong Kong?

    by  • 03/11/2013 • 2 Comments

    Though the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre’s exhibition (http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-a-hong-kong-walkway-a-very-public-holocaust-exhibit/), Oasis of Survival and Hope, continues to educate thousands in Central, Hong Kong, a visit to Madame Tussauds, on The Peak, presented an unexpected and very harsh contrast. While skipping around snapping pictures, my 11-year old daughter and her friend literally froze when they approached the...

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    Susan Blumberg-Kason’s forthcoming memoir: Good Chinese Wife

    by  • 30/10/2013 • 1 Comment

    We can hardly contain our excitement. It is really official now. AJL’s Books Editor Susan Blumberg-Kason will need to have her own memoir Good Chinese Wife- A Cross Cultural Memoir (Sourcebooks, July 2014) reviewed in Asian Jewish Life. Her memoir is now available for pre-order on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Good-Chinese-Wife-Cross-Cultural-Memoir/dp/1402293348). We only wish that we had a cover image to tease you with…

    This memoir traces the five years she spent trying to assimilate into a Chinese family, after jumping quickly into marriage (after only six months) with a Chinese man. But over time, she comes to revaluate what she thought it meant to be a wife, have a family, and raise a child —even if it entailed her leaving her Chinese family and moving in with her parents as a single mother at the age of 29.


    You can follow Susan on her blog at http://www.susanbkason.com.

    At AJL, we are obviously huge fans and promise that you will soon be too!

    An Oasis of Survival and Hope (Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre exhibition)

    by  • 19/10/2013 • 0 Comments


    This exhibition, featuring artwork by the Children of the Terezin Camp, also showcases artwork produced by pupils from Hong Kong schools as well as information panels about different aspects of the Holocaust and other genocides. It is a useful learning tool for all children learning about World War II, but it is much more than that. It is an important segway into discussions on racism and tolerance generally.


    IMG_7818Each individual piece of work created by Hong Kong students demonstrates an unparalleled sense of empathy and understanding of the meaning of the Holocaust. 



    The three dimensional artwork was particularly impactful. 






    The exhibition will run from October 15-November 15, 2013 in the Central Market Walkway (between Queen’s Road Central and Des Voeux Road).

    The fact that an exhibition of this importance has been given a location so central in Hong Kong is a tremendous statement as to the character of the people of Hong Kong.

    For more information, see the article in The Times of Israelhttp://www.timesofisrael.com/in-a-hong-kong-walkway-a-very-public-holocaust-exhibit/

    A Season for Jewish Film

    by  • 17/10/2013 • 0 Comments

    The Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival also recently announced its 2013 line up of 21 films from around the world addressing the concept of family. The 14th festival will run from November 16 to 24 and is a much anticipated focal point in the Hong Kong Jewish community's calendar. Festival founder and Creative Director Howard Elias...

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    Film as a Bridge Between Cultures

    by  • 04/10/2013 • 0 Comments

    The Beijing-Shanghai Jewish Film Festival recently announced their upcoming second annual festival http://www.jfilmfestival.org.


    Festival director Eytan Tepper hopes that this festival will, “strengthen a sense of community and identity of our Jewish audience but also to serve as a meeting point of different cultures and people, were friendships are born and grow.”

    The festival opens in Beijing on October 12, 2013 where an opening reception will be followed by a screening of the film Hava Nagila (The Movie), US 2013.


    Films include Red Dream Catcher, a CCTV docudrama on the Israel Epstein story. Epstein, a journalist, joined the Communist Party, befriended Mao Zedong, and fought against the Japanese during World War II. It is the story of how a Polish Jew became a Chinese hero.


    The 13 films span various genres including documentary, docudrama, drama and the avant-garde and are from around the Jewish world.

    The Beijing festival runs through October 19, 2013. Tickets are free but reservations are required. See the festival’s website for more information or contact them via email at info@jfilmfestival.org.

    Photographs of Jewish Moscow

    by  • 24/09/2013 • 0 Comments

    A February trip to Moscow for Asian Jewish Life's founder Erica Lyons for participation in the Sefer International Conference on Jewish Studies (http://www.sefer.ru/eng/about/) was a great opportunity to explore a Jewish community with a bright future. 

    For a full story on the conference, please see Erica's eJewish Philanthropy story Studying the Future of Russian Jewry at http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/studying-the-future-for-russian-jewry/

    The conference was housed in the uber-modern Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.










    The museum is filled with interactive and very high-tech exhibits (most with English translations). 



    Nearby is the Chabad Community Center and Synagogue.


    The Jewish Community Center (Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Centre) houses a number of differen organizations and institutions including a wonderful preschool.


    A visit to the Choral Synagogue is a must. It is unbelievably beautiful and steeped in history. 

    IMG_6460IMG_6424A number of other organizations and congregations are located in the same building.
















    Lastly, for a walk through history, see the Museum of the Jewish History in Russia.