(photo credit: Ronen Shnidman)
The Israel-China Friendship Society and the Association of Former Residents of China (Igud Yotzei Sin) in conjunction with representatives of the Chinese Embassy and members of Israel’s Chinese-Jewish expatriate community celebrated Tuesday night the Association’s 59th year in operation.
The annual event was held in Tel Aviv’s Einav Cultural Center located in Gan Ha’ir (near city hall and Rabin Square) and was a well-attended affair, including the presence of an official representative of the Chinese government, Embassy Charge d’Affaires Shi Yong. Yong came in place of the usual guest Ambassador Zhao Jun, who was away from Israel on a trip to China and could not attend this year’s event.
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After a reception for members of the Association and invited guests, attendees took their seats in the adjacent auditorium to listen to
speeches from senior leaders of the Association and to participate in a group singalong
with musical selections by Shirley Sharon. An activity, in which Yong and the other Chinese in attendance were happy to join.
The main highlight of the
event was the announcement of 15 academic scholarships for Chinese
students studying at institutions of higher learning in Israel and as
well as dozens of scholarships for Israeli children of former China
The annual presentation of academic scholarships is a relatively recent tradition of the Association which began 15 years ago in 1995, three years after the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and China. The scholarships are funded through donations from private individuals as well as a gift from the Chinese Embassy in Israel.
The largest aliya of Chinese Jewry to Israel came in the years 1949-1952 and settled mainly in the communities of Migdal Haemek, Ramat Yishai, Beit Shearim, Atlit, Pardes Hanna, Amikam, Suchmata, Kfar Tabor and later Netanya. Housing projects were also built for largely Chinese Jewish families in what was known as Tel Aviv’s Shikun Shanghai, now known as Ramat Hachayal. The Association of Former Residents of China was founded in Israel in June 1951 as a social gathering point for former China residents in Israel and to provide aid to needy olim. The current head of the Association is chairman Theodore Kaufmann.
Famous Israeli members of China’s former Jewish community include former
Herut MK Mordechai Olmert – father of former Israeli prime minister and
Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert and former Chinese health minister Dr.
Jakob “Buddha Savior” Rosenfeld who was in the Provisional Communist
Military Government of China under Mao Zedong in 1947 (and was also known as General Luo).