It became a tradition for us to share wine, challah (baked for us by Kehillat Beijing) and a shehechiyanu together on the Great Wall of China. When we began our Jewish Heritage Tours, starting in China with the wonderful support of Regent China Tours and its outstanding guides, we recited shehechiyanu at the Great Wall with our first group in June 2000. Since then we have shared the blessing and privilage of discovering our Jewish Heritage in communities across China.
Standing together in the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Dragon Pavillion of Kaifeng, we've discussed the role of the emperors in sustaining the Jewish communities of China. We have walked the streets of the Hongkou Ghetto of Shanghai, home to some 20,000 Jewish refugees of the Holocaust during the years of Nazi rule. We chanted Sh'ma together in the restored Ohel Rachel Synagogue of Shanghai, a beautiful creation of Victor Sassoon. We have strolled down South Torah Teaching Lane, once bordering Kaifeng's ancient synagogue, stood next to the stelae that once guarded the grounds of the synagogue complex, and talked of the Jewish community centuries past. We have recited Kaddish at the Memorial to the Stateless Refugees and Holocaust Victims in Shanghai, recited blessings in the peaceful gardens of Suzhou, shared Shabbat services with the Reconstructionist Kehillat Beijing and Chabad House of Beijing as well as the Jewish community of Shanghai, have created our own Shabbat services in Guilin and Yichang, have basked in the sacred beauty of havdallah by the Yangtze River, and have shared stories and experiences of Jews who traveled this exotic land, its Silk Road, port cities, mountains, valleys, rivers, deserts, and seas so far removed from the West.
I hope to share many more journeys with you. After six visits to China and increasing time spent in preparing these tours, I found it necessary to return to commitments to my music, teaching, writing, and speaking. The requests to serve as Scholar-In-Residence in tours worldwide increase each year, and I consider new possibiliites for future travels. As these opportunities arise, I will announce them to you. I continue to create private heritage tours to China for individuals, families, and groups of all sizes, and to serve as Tour Scholar-In-Residence as my schedule allows.