Two years ago, as China celebrated its 150th anniversary, I began my journey through Judaism.
I went from a quiet corner of Jerusalem to the heart of Beijing’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
My journey to China was like a whirlwind of emotion.
In a country with few institutions of state religion, I became a participant in one of the world’s largest and oldest religious communities.
After returning home from China, I learned of my new identity.
As I walked through the streets of Beijing, my family, my friends and my neighbors spoke about the different aspects of Chinese Orthodox Judaism, and how they lived it.
It was as if I was visiting a distant country, or a distant place, or an alien world.
My father, a Jewish businessman, told me he had a friend who was a member of the Chinese Orthodox community in the United States.
He said that in Beijing, the community is very strong, that they have a great relationship with the government and that they are very open to the outside world.
For the past two years, I have been participating in a regular Orthodox Jewish summer program in America called Jewish Voices for the Americas.
I have visited the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Israel and Palestine, among others.
I learned about the unique relationship between Judaism and China, and about the many ways Judaism is a part of Chinese culture.
As I traveled in China, it was my first time being able to meet Orthodox Jews in a way that was authentic.
In a country where many people do not speak English, Chinese Orthodox Jews are not afraid to share their faith with outsiders.
I have been able to interact with them and to understand their experience of living and worshipping Judaism, whether it is in Beijing or in Jerusalem.
And I have learned that Judaism has an identity that transcends ethnicity and religion.
A year after my return to China, we have begun to explore our identity in ways that are unique to our community.
This story is the first in a series of stories that explore the different ways that Orthodox Jews of China are changing in their religious lives and communities.