It was particularly at tonight’s dinner, seven Chinese folks speaking solely in Chinese and me observing it all like a piece of music, that I felt the connection between Jewish and Chinese culture. The energy of the exchange reminded me of visits with my relatives and the man in the garment industry who began the evening passing out his business card and then within 30 seconds of meeting two preschool teachers suggested that he could make uniforms for their children helped further that connections. Here’s some things I’ve noticed throughout the trip, common denominators between traditional Jewish and Chinese cultures:
• A large merchant class with a knack for business.
• Big emphasis on family and family rituals.
• The Jewish mother (“Eat your soup!”) and the Chinese mother (“Practice the piano!”)
• Education strongly valued, as well as hard work.
• Loud and excitable conversations.
And one more funny idea. It turns out that most big cities end up being a ghost town on Chinese New Year because people go back to their original homes. So stores are closed and the day itself is kind of like Christmas in the U.S. Since many Jewish families traditionally have gone out to eat in Chinese restaurants on Christmas day, I had a fantasy that Jewish people should open up restaurants in China to serve Chinese people on Chinese New Year. Just a thought.