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Chabad House: Judaism Makes Its Mark in Beijing

CRI Online)  11:07, October 29, 2012

The glossy exterior of Beijing's Chabad House. ( Wang)

Jews have been active in China since the 7th century Tang Dynasty, with notable communities having been established in Kaifeng followed by Shanghai. But here in the capital, Rabbi Shimon Freundlich has described "a third wave" of Judaism growing up and taking root. In 2001, Rabbi Shimon and his family came to Beijing with a plan to set up a Jewish community centre and synagogue, and six years later the Chabad House had been erected and opened its doors. It certainly isn't the only Jewish community centre in Beijing, but it is the most notable.

The Chabad House has comfortably settled into northeast Beijing, not far from the 798 art district. Architecturally, the building employs both modern and traditional elements, taking direct influence from historic synagogues in Shanghai and Tianjin.

The second floor is where most of the action takes place. The shul, or house of prayer, is located here, where rows of chairs line up alongside of the elevated central Bimah. The Bimah, where sermons and passages of the Torah are delivered from, faces the ornamental Aron Kodesh at the front of the room, where the Torah scrolls are traditionally kept.

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