Jews Through Chinese Eyes

It is one of those mornings in Beijing when you can’t tell whether it’s likely to pour or whether the sun is simply behind a blanket of smog. I stuff a rain jacket into the basket of my new $40 bicycle and, from my hotel, pedal west to the 10-level Wangfujing Bookstore on Wangfujing Street.

Along a cramped aisle of the business section, heads are bent over books whose cover art includes stars of David, the word “Talmud” in gilded letters and images of Moses embracing the Ten Commandments. I ask a small, fortyish woman if she can translate one title for me. It’s the “Jewish People’s Bible for Business and Managing the World,” she replies, adding that the book is a bestseller.

I pick up a book whose cover reads, in Chinese and English, The Wisdom of Judaic Trader, and flip through the pages, which are illustrated with big-nosed caricatures. Other tomes that people around me are reading offer morals via spiritual fables; some barely mention religion. In many, the content is simply fabricated, highlighting, for instance, the success of financier J.P. Morgan (who was Episcopalian, not Jewish). I walk upstairs to peruse the broad selection of child-rearing books and notice a Chinese man, a little boy by his side, engrossed in The Jewish Way of Raising Children. I ask why this title interests him. “Because the Jewish people are very clever,” he answers.

See the rest here. “The Jewish People’s Bible for Business and Managing the World” and “The Jewish Way of Raising Children” are supposedly some of the best-selling books in China this year (although an English Google search turns up nearly zero).

Also see Patricia Marx, who follows a kosher-certifying rabbi about Chinese factories in The New Yorker (from whence I got this lead).

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