Issue 11 – Home – January 2013


Five Star Refuge
A Week at The Pen
by Erica Lyons

The lobby of Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel (or “The Pen” as it is often fondly referred to as) suggests the height of colonial elegance, framed by gilded columns with its marble flooring and high ceilings complete with ornately carved scenes. As the string quartet hums from the grand balcony above, over shiny silver threetier stands of high-tea treats, with its grandeur and elegance, it is difficult to imagine that the Peninsula Hotel was once a temporary shelter for post-World War II Jewish refugees. […] [read online…]

Manila Memories
History of the Jews in the Philippines
by Bonnie M. Harris, Ph.D.

In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Portuguese vessels carried Sephardic Jewish merchants for the first time down the West Coast of Africa, around the hornand up the East Coast, and the across the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean to India, China, the Spice Islands of Indochina, and to the as yet unnamed islands of the Philippines. These Crypto-Jewish merchants escaped the persecutions of their time by migrating ubiquitously from the Iberian Peninsula to commercial ports scattered throughout the world. […] [read online…]

Feeding the World with Jewish Wisdom
A look at American Jewish World Service
by Erica Lyons

There seems to be an implicit understanding that our planet is divided into two entirely separate worlds, there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. The third world is the ‘them’, which we can tune > out, address or not address, engage with or ignore. But Ruth Messinger, CEO/President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice, does not divide the world in that way. As she explains, as Jews we simply can’t do this. “Jewish texts are very clear about this. Jews have a clear obligation to work towards global justice, to help both Jews and non-Jews.   […] [read online…]

A Musical Journey to Andhra Pradesh
Understanding the Bnei Ephraim
by Irene Orleansky

I have always been fascinated by thestory of the lost tribes and wishedto contribute to their return to Zion.Being neither an anthropologist nor apolitician, I decided to go about it using myown talent, music. That is how in Januaryof 2012, equipped with a small mobilestudio, I came to start my journey throughAfrica and Asia to record a CD of musicof the lost tribes. After visiting the AfricanHebrew communities in Ghana, Uganda,Kenya and Ethiopia and then Kaifeng,China my next destination was India.

After visiting and recording the music ofthe communities of  […] [read online…]

Biblical Influences in Chinese Literature

by Tiberiu Weisz

What bound Judaism andChina into a seeminglyyin and yang culturalrelationship? The moreI research these two cultures, the morethey seemed to revolve around theperpetual changes created by yin andyang. Initially, I thought that the key mightlie in mastering the Chinese language.But, once I felt proficient in Chinese(I was already proficient in Hebrew) Irealized that even the two languageswere following the yin yang pattern. Bothlanguages are built on a similar system,the root words. Hebrew uses threeletters for the “root” called shoresh, whileChinese uses 214 basic “radicals” calledbushou. But the similarities in terms oflanguage end here.

In Hebrew we form words by adding […] [read online…]



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Asian Jewish Life is a free quarterly publication designed to share regional Jewish thoughts, ideas and culture and promote unity. It also celebrates our individuality and our diverse backgrounds and customs.