21 October 2018 - 13 Heshvan 5779 - י"ג חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ט
A Hebrew lecturer from Indonesia E-mail

Indonesia may not have diplomatic relations with Israel, but in a wellknown state university in Jakarta, one Muslim woman teaches Hebrew language.

Her posture looks like average Indonesian women, slim and tiny sweet lady. When we met for this interview, she wore pale brown hijab to cover her head. Because of her hijab, I know she is Muslim. Awesome! Total surprise! I never thought I would meet with a Muslim lecturer who teaches Hebrew in the capital of Indonesia.

Indonesia is the largest muslim country in the world. For many Indonesians they only know the word “Jewish” from The Holy Quran or in the Bible. The Indonesian government only recognises six religions. They are Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confusius.

That is why I was surprised when I met Wiwin Triwinarti, Hebrew lecturer in Centre of Islamic Studies at University Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta, which is the most well-known state university in the country. Wiwin has been teaching Hebrew for 12 years. She learned and studied Hebrew in UI.

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Students running to highlight global slavery E-mail

Last November as part of a global inititative, Hong Kong students took part in a charity race. The project called The 24 Hour Race by Running To Stop the Traffik is the biggest student-run charity organisation in Asia. Their vision is very clear – a world free from modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

The 24 Hour Race is an international youth-focused endurance event aimed to combat human slavery. Since 2010, the 24 Hour Races have engaged more than 1,500,000 youths in the fight against modern-day slavery, and raised more than US$300,000 for grass roots anti-human slavery charities in the process.

On 15 November from 9 am through to 9 am on 16 November more than 1000 students took part and ran simultaneously in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to show their family, friends, colleagues and community that they care about fighting against human slavery.

Through their fund raising efforts the Hong Kong runners raised HK$2 million for their beneficiary charity, Freedom Matters, a UK registered charity, where most of the project work is currently conducted in Nepal fighting trafficking and modern day slavery. The charity’s primary focus is the rescue, protection and rehabilitation of children and young people from conditions of enslavement, violence or exploitation.

One of the participants was Sarah Davidson a student from Elsa High School. “Over the past few years I have learnt about and raised awareness for modern day slavery. There are approximately 27 million slaves in the world today; a number that I have yet to comprehend myself,” said Sarah.

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Shavei Israel re-establishing Kaifeng, China E-mail

Dipping an apple in a bowl of honey and blowing the shofar are two of the most iconic images of the Jewish New Year. But those customs are nothing short of miraculous when they take place so far from Israel or other large Diaspora Jewish communities that they are literally on the other side of the world.

This past Rosh Hashanah, Shavei Israel organised a gathering in Kaifeng, China, where the small Jewish community celebrated the coming of the New Year with the same vigor as Jews in Jerusalem, New York or Paris.

Jews are believed to have first settled in Kaifeng, which was one of China’s imperial capitals, in the 8th century, arriving there from Persia and Iraq as they made their way eastward along the Silk Route. In 1163, Kaifeng’s Jews built a large and beautiful synagogue.

At its peak, during the Ming Dynasty (13681644), the Kaifeng Jewish community may have numbered as many as 5,000 people. But, by the mid1800s, assimilation had taken a heavy toll and the Chinese Jews’ knowledge and practice of Judaism had largely faded away. The last rabbi of the community died in the early part of the 19th century, and the synagogue building was all but destroyed by a series of floods, which struck the city in the 1840s.

All of which makes the dogged perseverance by several hundred Kaifeng Jews to maintain their Jewish identity that much more remarkable.

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