Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chinese Jews

On the left is an almanac of a 趙 (Zhao) family in China. Notice some names in Chinese and some in Hebrew.

It was more than 20 years ago when I first learned that there were Jews in China. Rabbi Kirschner of Congregation Emanu-el lent me a book on the topic, Jews in Old China: Studies by Chinese Scholars by Sidney Shapiro. That must have been the first English language book written about the Chinese Jews. Since then, there has been many books telling the tales of Jews in Old and Modern China.

Jewish visitors had been documented as early as 231 BCE. They came via the Silk Road through Central Asia and India, and they traded with merchants in Kaifeng, the largest city at the time. Some time during history, the Jews must have brought the game Mah-Jong back home. So many of my temple sisters play that game, and I would be one of the rare ones who don’t know how. I blame that on my Dad.

Growing up in Hong Kong, many people played Mah-Jong, including my mom. There were several few times when I would stand next to the table to watch all the players shuffle those pretty tiles. Each time, my Dad would tell me to get away from the table because he didn’t want me to be “learning about gambling”. (The game uses these colorful chips as bets.) And no, they never used any game cards.

I hope some day I can visit the different Jewish communities, or the sites of old communities, in Kaifeng, Shanghai, Harbin, and Beijing. I just think that it would be a very interesting trip.

(I am a Jew, by choice.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My First Blog Post & Free Earrings GIVEAWAY

Wow, this is a historical moment for me - my first blogging effort. It's about time, huh?!

To celebrate this occasion, I will be drawing a name from my list of blog followers. Click "Follow This Blog" on the right sidebar. The drawing will take place at the end of the day on my birthday - October 14. This one lucky winner will receive a pair of earrings that I created. They look like this -

Amethyst and rainbow color coated clear Swarovski cubes, separated by twist wire rings. Ear wires and all findings are sterling silver. A great pair of Everyday Earrings.

Now a little bit about myself (so I can get this self-promotion behind me, lol):

After many years of practicing as an architect, I craved to create with my own two hands instead of just sitting behind the computer or drawing board and have other people carry out my designs. From mega-scale projects to micro-sized adornments, I execute my jewelry designs/fabrication with an artful eye, precision hands, and human comfort in mind. I hope my jewelry collections will bring you as much meaning and enjoyment as the passion I pour onto each piece.

My inspiration comes from my past experiences in life, my cultures, my environment or it can be a specific moment in time. Sometimes interesting techniques will challenge me to come up with different designs too. My work keeps evolving, with fresh ideas all the time.
I try to keep my designs simple and timeless, using materials of the highest quality. My preference is to use silver or gold since they are highly recyclable and highly shapeable. On the other hand, with the cost of precious metals these days, I do explore other jewelry grade metals as well. These materials will be specified in my descriptions and materials sections on my Etsy shop.

I'm also a proud member of the awesome, one and only, incredible team called eSMArts Guild. Go to our team site to find out more, and to get to know my extremely talented cohorts.