The Jewish community of Kaifeng, China will host its first official seder in centuries.
The community, which can trace its history back 1,000 years, expects to draw in 100 attendees to the traditional Passover meal next week, which will include Haggadahs in Chinese and Hebrew and matzah and kosher for Pesach items specially shipped in.
The event will be sponsored by Shavei Israel, a group that focuses on supporting what it calls “hidden Jews.” Tzuri Shi, a member of the Kaifeng community that currently lives in Israel, will travel back to his hometown to lead the services.
Historians believe the Kaifeng Jewish community was created in the 8th or 9th century, by Iraqi and Persian traders from the Silk Road.
“In recent years, many members of the community have begun to explore their heritage – thanks in part to the Internet, which opened up new worlds for them and provided access to information about Judaism and Israel that was previously inaccessible to them,” said Michael Freund, head of Shavei Israel.
“Kaifeng’s Jewish descendants are a living link between China and the Jewish people, and it is very moving to see the remnants of this community returning to their Jewish roots as they prepare for Passover.”
An estimated 1,000 descendants of Jews still live in Kaifeng, and Shavei Israel has helped many of them rediscover their heritage and formally complete Jewish studies.