The Image of Jews in Contemporary China

The Image of Jews in Contemporary China

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Edited by James Rodman Ross & Song Lihong

Series: Jewish Identities in Post-Modern Society
ISBN: 9781618114204 (hardcover), 9781618117687 (paperback)
Pages: 256 pp.
Publication Date: January 2016

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Bookstores in Chinese cities are stocked with dozens of Chinese-language books on how Jews conduct business, manage the world, and raise their children. At least ten universities throughout China offer popular Jewish Studies programs, some with advanced degrees. Yet there are virtually no Jews in China. The Chinese are constructing an identity for a people that the large majority of them will never meet. This edited volume critically examines the image of Jews from the contemporary perspective of ordinary Chinese citizens. It includes chapters on Chinese Jewish Studies programs, popular Chinese books and blogs about Jews, China’s relations with Israel, and innovative examinations of the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng.

Contributors: Moshe Y. Bernstein, She Gangzheng, James Ross, Glenn Timmermans, Xu Xin, Zhou Xun, Chen Yiyi, Fu Youde, Meng Zhenhua, Song Lihong, Zhong Zhiqing

James Ross is an Associate Professor at Northeastern University in Boston, former Fulbright lecturer at Nanjing University, and author of Fragile Branches: Travels Through the Jewish Diaspora (Riverhead, 2000).

Song Lihong is Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Nanjing University, and most recently the author of Rome and Jerusalem (2015).


The Image of Jews in Contemporary China, an illuminating volume edited by James Ross and Song Lihong ... covers a great deal of ground in comprehensive fashion ... This surge of interest in all things Jewish among Chinese people is no minor development, and fortunately, it’s neatly encapsulated in The Image of Jews in Contemporary China.
— Sheldon Kirshner, The Times of Israel
You will not find a more revealing and useful series of portraits of Jewish life in China than this fascinating and expertly edited book. With it, a history and sociology of Chinese Jewry is now available for the English readers.
— Samuel Heilman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY
In this ground-breaking study, James Ross and Song Lihong have produced a masterfully edited volume covering a wide range of important topics in Jewish studies in China. Authored by leading American and Chinese scholars, the individual chapters of the book offer deep insights on Chinese perception of the Jews and the forces driving the growth of Jewish Studies in China. The Image of Jews in Contemporary China is an unrivaled text in its field.
— Minxin Pei, Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College
The amazing surge of interest in all things Jewish—Judaism, Jewishness, Jewish Studies—in contemporary China is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the contemporary globalized world. This superb volume of essays is the first to offer a truly sophisticated survey of different aspects of the Chinese-Jewish phenomenon, from the state of the contemporary Chinese-Jewish community in Kaifeng to China-Israel relations to the rise of Jewish Studies as an academic field in Chinese universities. With its many contributions from Chinese scholars in particular, this volume demonstrates the truly advanced level of ‘Jewish’ discourse in contemporary Chinese academic and intellectual life.
— David Stern, Harry Starr Professor of Classical and Modern Hebrew and Jewish Literature, Harvard University

Table of Contents


James R. Ross

Perceiving Jews in Modern China
Zhou Xun
Images of Jews in Contemporary Books, Blogs and Films
James R. Ross
Distinctiveness: A Major Jewish Characteristic
Fu Youde
Chinese Policy toward Kaifeng Jews
Xu Xin
Sukkot and Mid-Autumn Festivals in Kaifeng: Conundrums at the Crossroads of Sino-Judaic Cultural Identity
Moshe Y. Bernstein
Understanding of the Bible among the General Public in Mainland China: A Survey on the “Bullet Curtain” of The Bible
Meng Zhenhua
The Changing Image of the State of Israel in People’s Daily during the Cold War
She Gangzheng
The Reception of Contemporary Israeli Literature in China
Zhong Zhiqing
China’s Relationship with Israel, Opportunities and Challenges: Perspectives from China
Chen Yiyi
Holocaust Studies and Holocaust Education in China
Glenn Timmermans
Reflections on Chinese Jewish Studies: A Comparative Perspective
Song Lihong