Monthly Archives: June 2013

Jewish Refugees of Shanghai during WWII

Shanghai pic_street

Jewish “Little Vienna” neighborhood in Shanghai (circa 1930s)

I’m a woman of Chinese heritage who converted to Judaism after a long personal and soul-examining journey.  The connection had surprised even me.  So much so, that I searched for a link that would tie these two seemingly different cultures together.  In an unusual discovery, I found there was a historical connection:  World War II.

Young Jewish Refugee surrounded by Chinese friends

 From the early 1930s to mid-1940s, approximately 20,000 stateless Jewish refugees fled Hitler’s wrath and horrific Nazi persecution to one of the few places that would accept them without the required and hard-to- obtain immigration visa – Shanghai.  This fascinating and little-known past had me captivated –I had to learn more.

Serendipitously, I discovered a Jewish Tour of China, being led by Professor Xu Xin of Nanjing University.  It turned out that Professor Xu Xin is one of the premiere experts on Jewish history in China.  So in 2003 I traveled with him and a small group through China and Shanghai.

The highlight of the trip for me was of course our time in Shanghai.  Here we visited the Hongkew District, walked along the Bund, where many of the buildings of the 1930s still stand, and the longtangs where the Chinese resided and operated their businesses.  We also went to the synagogue frequented by the WWII Jewish population.  Here I met the elderly Chinese caretaker who was there during those times.  I felt a bridge to the people who fascinated me so.

The intermingling of cultures here has and continues to be a source of inspiration for me, so much so that I wrote the recently published novel, Shanghai Love.

Who would have known that it would’ve caused such a barrage remarks about the subject?  I’ve been inundated with questions about the history, the people and cultures.  Happily surprised and with so much rich material to share, I’ll explore these and other related topics here in my blog.

Be sure to sign-up at the top of the page to receive notices for new postings.

And please comment and let me know your thoughts and connections.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time,

Layne

Food As Medicine

Food As Medicine : A Summer Tea

Chrysanthemum Tea - iStock_000013036052LargeFood is a daily part of life, so much so that most of us do not really give it a great deal of thought.  Yet, food presents an amazing capacity to aid in the healing and nourishing of the human body. Using plants for health and the prevention of illness is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture.  Food choices can aid in their positive influences acting like medicine.

Seasonal food, in particular, provides the most nutrient and health benefits.  Enjoy this refreshing and easy summer tea recipe below.

Chrysanthemum (ju hua) Tea *

Chrysanthemum (ju hua) is known for its ability to cool excess heat in the body.  Iced Chrysanthemum Tea is an ideal drink for hot summer days.  In addition to clearing heat and promoting Qi, it is a great thirst quencher.

Ingredients:

60-80 Chrysanthemum flowers

3 t of Green Tea leaves

4 cups of water

Honey to taste

Instructions:

  1. Rinse chrysanthemum leaves
  2. Put chrysanthemum leaves and Green Tea into filtered coffee pot maker
  3. Pour water into coffee pot maker
  4. Once coffee pot maker brews tea, add honey if desired
  5. Cool tea
  6. Serve over ice

Enjoy!

* This recipe is not intended as a substitute for consulting with a physician.