Announcing the 2011 Kulanu-Kaifeng Speaking Tour

image: Shi Lei's headshot

(Photo of Shi Lei courtesy of Sino-Judaic Institute)

Kulanu is delighted to announce that Shi Lei, of the historic Jewish community of Kaifeng, China, is returning to North America for his second Kulanu speaking tour in 2011! Due to popular demand, Shi Lei will present the fascinating story of the Kaifeng Jews - including current developments - to audiences between February 15th and March 7th, 2011. Keep reading for more about the Jewish presence in Kaifeng and how you can invite Shi Lei to your own community!

Cut off from the Jewish world for hundreds of years until it was “discovered” by a Jesuit priest in 1605 CE, the Kaifeng community remained intact until the 19th century when it disappeared from the Jewish map. Today, this ancient Jewish community is undergoing a remarkable resurgence. Shi Lei is a descendant of one of the original Jewish families, believed to have settled in Kaifeng between 960 and 1127 CE.

An accomplished and experienced speaker, Shi Lei will present the history of this remarkable community, offering insight into the ability of some remnants of the community to survive under difficult, even impossible, circumstances. Today, some 300 descendants still live in Kaifeng, and while some Jewish traditions have been forgotten, others have been preserved through the centuries. Like Shi Lei, many young people desire to learn about their origins. Eighteen of them are currently studying in Israel.

Shi Lei is a graduate of Henan University in the province of Henan, China. From 2001 to 2004 he studied in Israel, first Jewish history and religion at Bar-Ilan University and then at Machon Meir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Now a tour operator and national tour guide, Shi Lei leads private and group tours to Kaifeng and other Chinese cities with Jewish sites of interest, including Beijing, Harbin, Xi’an and Shanghai.

This year’s Kulanu-Kaifeng speaking tour will run from February 15th to March 7th, 2011. If you are interested in hosting Mr. Lei at your synagogue, JCC, Hillel or other location, please read on to find out how!

What is required of host locations?

  • An honorarium of $1,200 plus a travel expense contribution of $250, for a total of $1,450 per event. You are welcome to seek co-sponsors to share your event.
  • A primary contact to be responsible for the event and for Shi Lei while he is in your city.
  • Accommodations, meals, and local transportation for the speaker (home hospitality is preferred).
  • Event set-up requirements are detailed in the online Event Planning Kit.

If you would like to host the speaker, what should you do next?

  • Please consult our online calendar to see which dates have already been assigned to other groups, and which dates have tentative requests.
  • Complete our online inquiry form to let us know of your interest and how to reach you. If you are able, please list three possible dates that might work for you.
  • Check out Kulanu's Event Planning Kit for an idea of what is involved in hosting a successful speaking tour event.

This is a special opportunity to educate your community about the Kaifeng Jews and about Jewish diversity, and to help Kulanu continue to support isolated and emerging Jewish communities worldwide.

For more information:

If you have further questions, feel free to contact Kulanu's speaking tour coordinators.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to working together to help educate North American audiences about the Jews of Kaifeng! Your interest and support is greatly appreciated.