Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based non-profit that works to strengthen ties between The State of Israel and descendants of Jews around the world, created hundreds of dreidels with Mandarin lettering for Chinese Jews in Kaifeng and members of that community who have already made Aliyah. The Dreidels may be the first ever created with Chinese text, said Shavei Israel.
"伟大的 - Big; 奇迹 - Miracle, 发生过 - Happened; 这里曾 - here," is printed on the dreidels.
The community in China is very small, consisting of around 1,000 people of which experts say only 100 are actually practicing, and have lacked a rabbi for well over a century. However, it goes back over a thousand years, having settled in Kaifeng. Even at its height during the 16th century, it numbered just 5,000. And throughout the years, despite losing many of its members to conversion, wars, disasters and more, the community has lived on through the passing down of tradition between generations.
The community was founded when Iraqi or Persian Jews who were merchants on the Silk Road in the 7th or 8th century settled in Kaifeng, said Shavei Israel founder and chairman, Michael Freund.
“The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng are a living link between China and the Jewish people,” said Freund. “Despite the severe restrictions imposed on them by the Chinese government in recent years, the Chinese-Jewish descendants are anxious to learn more about the heritage of their forefathers and we hope these Chinese-language Dreidels that we’ve prepared for them will give them a dose of happiness and light during Chanukah.”
Shavei Israel is currently active in more than a dozen communities worldwide and assists communities in India, Spain, Russia, China and more.
Aaron Reich contributed to this report