Jews in China

The documented story of the Jewish presence in China begins in the 12th century. Arriving on China's shores as traders and later as refugees, Jews have made their homes there ever since. They have lived in various cities: Kaifeng in Henan province, Harbin in Heilongjiang, and in the coastal cities of Shanghai, and Tianjin. Their cultural backgrounds have differed one from the other. There were Persian and Iraqi Jews as well as Jews from Russia, Austria, Poland, and Germany. Once in China they founded communities with communal institutions, they built synagogues and established cemeteries. In addition, they founded newspapers in their various languages, and schools. The aim of the project at the Hebrew University is to collect materials on the lives and times of these far flung communities and to make these available to scholars and students for research.

The project of the Jewish communities in China encompasses several areas. Among these are: translations of the Old Testament (Tanakh) into Chinese, the ancient community of Kaifeng, and the modern communities of Shanghai. Several students are presently doing research in these areas, and dissertations and theses are currently under way about Tanakh translations, the German-Jewish exile press, and Yiddish travel accounts in China.

Materials Available at the Hebrew University

  1. Documentary materials
  2. Newspaper collections
  3. Documentary films
  4. Interviews
  5.  Bibliography (in preparation)

 see our mini-database
1. Documentary Materials
a. Copies of the Irene Eber Collection, RG 078, consisting of memoirs, personal papers, photographs, letters and diaries. The originals are housed in Yad Vashem.
b. More than 1,500 titles of documents from between roughly 1933 to 1948, largely dealing with the refugees in China.
2. Newspaper Collections
The newspapers are on microfilm and consist of 13 papers in Chinese, Russian, German, Yiddish, and English.
3. Documentary Films
The documentary films include 11 DVD disks in German, English, Chinese, and Hebrew. Most of the films deal with the Jewish refugee communities and there is one feature film.
4. Interviews
Interviews were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s with erstwhile residents in China. Most are transcribed and are available in the Institute for Contemporary Jewry. Several on DVD are in the Department of East Asian Studies.

Publications of the projects

Eber, Irene


I. Eber, ed., Jewish Refugees in Shanghai. 1933-1947, A Selection of Documents. Göttingen:Vandenhoek and Ruprecht, 2018.

Martin Buber Werkausgabe, Schriften zur chinesischen Philosophie und Literatur, Herausgegeben, eingeleitet und kommentiert von Irene Eber,Güterslohe:GütersloherVerlagshaus, 2014.

I. Eber, Wartime Shanghai and Jewish Refugees from Central Europe, Survival, Co-Existence, and Identity in a Multi-Ethnic City, Berlin: deGruyter, 2012.

I. Eber, Voices from Shanghai, Jewish Exiles in Wartime China (University of Chicago Press, 2008)

I. Eber, Chinese and Jews, Encounters Between Cultures (Valentine and Mitchell, 2008)


I. Eber, "Translating King David," in Barbara Hoster, Dirk Kuhlman, Zbigniew Wesolowski, S.V.D eds, Rooted in Hope, China-Religion Christianity, bestschrift in Honor of Roman Malek S.V D, in the Occasion of his 6Sh Birthday, Vol. 2, Sankt Augustin: Monumenta Serica Institute, 2017,pp 609-616.

I. Eber, "Translation, Reception, and Appropriation of Old Testament Ideas in 19h Century China" Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Special Issue, Judaism and Chinese Philosophy (forthcoming 2019).

I. Eber, "The Jews of Kaifeng: Syncretism as an Alternative to Forgetting," in Avi Elqayam and Yosef Kaplan, eds., Satri Nidakhim, Yehudim im Zehuyot Khamuyai (Conceal the Outcasts, Jews with Hidden Identities), Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi and the Hebrew University, 2016, 331-343. (Hebrew)

I. Eber, China and Yiddish: Contacts Between," Studia Orientalia Slovaca, January 20, 2019. (forthcoming)

I. Eber, "Holocaust Education and Displaced Persons (DP) Camps", Contemporary Review of the Mid East, Special Issue, Vol. 3, no. 3 (September 2016), pp. 1-6.

I. Eber, "Getting to Know One Another, Yiddish Writers and Chinese," Guan Rui and Lihong Song, trans., "Renzhi bici: yidixuyu zuojia he  zhongguo ren" Xuehai, (Academia Bimestrie) , no. 3 (2016), pp. 183-188.

I. Eber, Joan Hill, "Luo Chen, (1883-1970), in China", Nashim, (2017), pp. 169-179.

I. Eber, "Chinese Jews and Jews in China: Kaifeng-Shanghai", in Max Deeg and Bernhard Scheid, eds., Religion in  China, Major Concepts and Minority Positions, Vienna: Verlag Österreichischer Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015, pp. 65-89.

I. Eber, "Lu Xun's Fiction," Studia Orientalia Slovaca, Vol. 13, no. 1 (2014), pp. 1-5.

I. Eber, "The Jewish Refugee Community of Shanghai (1941),"by Yehoshua Rapoport, translated from the Yiddish and introduced by I. Eber, in Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds. The Jew in the Modern World, New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, Third Edition, pp. 746- 749.

I. Eber, "Shamuerh ji shang' di liang ge zhongwen yiben (1 Samuel in two Chinese translations) ,  Philip P. Chia and Chin Kan-pa, eds., Zishang Ti sho vilet Zishang Ti shuo hanyu yilai (Ever since God speaks Chinese: The 90" anniversary of the Chinese Union Bible Version), Hong Kong: Centre for Advanced Biblical Studies, 2010, 91-98.

I. Eber, "Sholem Aleichem in Chinese?." Sh'ma, 41/675, (December 2010), p.9.

I. Eber, "Learning the Other: Chinese Studies in Israel and Jewish Studies in China," Middle East Institute New Delhi Mei Occasional Papers, no. 17 (6 September 2010), pp. 1-7.

I. Eber, Partial translation into Chinese by Lihong Song. "Yisaliedi Zhongguo Yenjiu (Chinese studies in Israel)", Zhongguo Shehui Kexue bao, February 10, 2011, p. 13.

I. Eber, "Introduction, S.I.J. Schereschewsky and His Translation of the Old Testament into Chinese", on Internet (unpublished).

I. Eber, "Dan Daor (1937-2009), Translator Par Excellence," Studia Orientalia Slovaca, Vol. 8 (2009), pp. 335-336.

I. Eber, "Remarks on the Intercultural Nature of Bible Translations," in Raoul D. Findeisen and Martin Slobodnik, eds., Talking Literature, Essays in Chinese and Biblical Writings and their Interaction, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013, pp. 63-74.

I. Eber, Chinese translation by He Gui Juann in Biblical Literature Studies, Autumn, 2015, pp.

I. Eber, "Several Psalms in Chinese Translation", Proceedings on the Bible, Taipei (unpublished).

I. Eber, "The Many Faces of Exile: Hu Shi and his 1956 Lectures", Oriens Extremus, 52 (2014), 19-35.

I. Eber, "Meylekh Ravitch in China, A Travelogue of 1935," in Monika Schmitz-Evans, ed., Transkulturelle Rezeption and Konstruktion (Synchron, 2004)

Popular Articles and Fiction:

I. Eber, "Bright Moon Rises Over Heavenly Mountain', Love and Torah Scrolls in Kaifeng", Kerem, 14 (2014), pp. 123-140.

I. Eber, "From the Tang Dynasty to Today", Sh`ma, A Journal of Jewish Ideas, no. 44/705 (December 2013), pp. 14-15.

Cao Jian

Cao Jian, "The Old Testament as Literature and Modern Chinese Protestant Intellectuals (1913-1937)," in Raoul David Findeisen, et. al., eds., At Home in Many Worlds, Reading, Writing and Translating from Chinese and Jewish Cultures, Essays in Honour of Irene Eber, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009, pp. 215-226.

Cao Jian, "The Chinese Mandarin Bible: Exegesis and Bible Translating," The Bible Translator, Vol. 57, no. 3 (June 2006), pp. 122-138. 

Yariv-Laor, Lihi

Lihi Yariv-Laor, "On Biblical Metonymies in Chinese Bible Translations," Translation Quarterly (forthcoming)

Livni, Itamar

Itamar Livni, "The German Jewish Immigrant Press in Shanghai," in Raoul David Findeisen, et. al., eds., At Home in Many Worlds, Reading, Writing and Translating from Chinese and Jewish Cultures, Essays in Honour of Irene Eber, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009, pp. 273-285.

Itamar Livni, "Juden in China," Jüdischer Almanach, 1997/5757 des Leo Baeck Instituts, pp. 37-49.