Chanukah represents the story of Jewish survival in the face of persecution. The Macabbees used might and cunning to defeat the mighty Greeks. But through the generations it was Jewish adaptability and the dispersion of our communities that fueled success and survival. Jews set up outposts along the silk route, helping to establish trade and commerce between East and West.
From the 10th to the 12th century, Kaifeng was the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty and a cosmopolitan center on a branch of the Silk Road, attracting Chinese imperial suitors and Persian merchants with camels. Amid this ferment was a small community of Sephardic Jews, who arrived most likely from Persia and India as traders, or perhaps fleeing the Crusades. Scholars still debate the time of their first arrival, but for at least 700 years, Jews prospered free of persecution, largely out of mind of the various Chinese dynasties that dubbed them “blue-hatted Hui” — people from the West. They settled into trades and, around 1163, built a synagogue. During World War II, Jews of all backgrounds found haven in Shanghai bringing the sounds of Hebrew and the smell of challah to life in China.
This limited run of kippot made in China make wonderful Chanukah gifts and serve as a reminder of just how global Jewish life can be!