Published On: Mon, Feb 29th, 2016

5 young Chinese women arrive in Israel to make aliyah

Women from ancient Kaifeng, China Jewish community arrived in Israel this morning.

Shavei-(From left) Li Yuan,   Yue Ting,   Li Jing,   Li Chengjin and Gao Yichen standing in front of the Kotel in Jerusalem today.Photo Credit: Laura Ben-David / Courtesy of Shavei Israel

 

For the first time in nearly seven years, five twenty-something women from the ancient Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng arrived in Israel this morning to fulfill their dreams of making Aliyah thanks to the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel.

The women – Gao Yichen (“Weiwei”), Yue Ting, Li Jing, Li Yuan, and Li Chengjin (“Lulu”) – have been studying Hebrew and Judaism intensively for several years in Kaifeng. Upon arrival in Israel, they were greeted by Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, who took them straight from Ben Gurion Airport to the Western Wall (the Kotel) so they could thank God for helping them return to the land of their ancestors.

“Kaifeng’s Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people, ” said Freund, who succeeded in obtaining the requisite permission to bring the Chinese Jews on Aliyah after several years of struggling with the Israeli bureaucracy. “After centuries of assimilation, a growing number of the Kaifeng Jews in recent years have begun seeking to return to their roots and embrace their Jewish identity, ” Freund said, adding that, “These five young women are determined to rejoin the Jewish people and become proud citizens of the Jewish state, and we are delighted to help them realize their dreams.”

 

Shavei-The five women arrived at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport from Kaifeng,   China this morning. Aliya Photo Credit: Laura Ben-David / Courtesy of Shavei Israel

 

“Being part of the Jewish people is an honor, because of the heritage and wisdom, ” said Li Jing, who on a brief previous visit to Israel put a note of prayer in the Kotel asking to return and live in Israel. “Now, my prayer has been answered, ” she said.

The last time Shavei Israel was able to bring a group of Chinese Jews from Kaifeng on Aliyah was in October 2009, when seven young men from the community arrived in the Jewish state. The organization has brought a total of 19 members of the Kaifeng Jewish community to Israel.

The five women plan to continue their Jewish studies at Jerusalem’s Midreshet Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center For Advanced Torah Study For Women, with the support of Shavei Israel, which will also cover their living expenses and support them as they prepare to undergo formal conversion by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. Upon completion of the conversion process, they will receive Israeli citizenship.

 

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