The Jewish past in Kaifeng, China stretches back more than a thousand years. Most scholars agree that a Jewish community existed in Kaifeng, once an important stop on the Silk Road, since the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). Some experts date the arrival of Jews to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) or even earlier. Since the discovery of the community by the Jesuits in the 17th century, it has triggered legions of scholarly activity. Working on the same historical evidence, however, Chinese and western scholars usually drew drastically different conclusions. Reflections on the differences will not only lay bare the orientations of Jewish studies in China, but also shed light on the worlds in which we live.
About the Speaker: LIHONG SONG is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Deputy Director of the Glazer Institute of Jewish Studies at Nanjing University, China. He has published numerous articles on Jews and Judaism in China. He is currently on leave, doing research at the University of Pennsylvania on Jewish-Gentile relations in Classical Antiquity.