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Watch A Chinese Jew's Heartfelt Passover Song

Ram, the cantor of China's renewed ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng, sings of redemption.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/3/2014, 9:59 PM

A unique video captures the heartfelt rendition of a classic Passover song in the ancient Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng, located on the banks of the Yellow River.

Ram, a Chinese Jew and cantor of the Kaifeng community, sings "Vehi She'amda," a song recounting G-d's protection of the Jewish people in every generation. The song is part of the Passover Haggadah text, which recounts the miraculous Exodus in which G-d brought the Jews out of Egyptian slavery to the land of Israel.

The video was uploaded to YouTube this week by Michael Freund, founder of the Shavei Israel organization that helps groups with Jewish origins, such as the Bnei Menashe of India, return to the Jewish people. On Thursday, Freund was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism for his activities.

Freund wrote that he filmed the song while visiting Kaifeng last week, where he has worked to strengthen ties with local Chinese Jews who trace their ancestry to the city's ancient Jewish community. In 2009, one of the first groups of Chinese Jews returned to Israel from Kaifeng.

At its peak, during the Middle Ages, the Jewish community in Kaifeng numbered roughly 5,000. Widespread intermarriage and assimilation, as well as the death of the community's last rabbi, led the Jewish community to effectively disappear in the 19th century CE.

However, hundreds of Chinese in Kaifeng have maintained their Jewish identity, and in recent years a growing number have returned to the religion and to Israel.

It is worth noting that Israel has been strengthening its ties with China greatly in recent months.

Reports last December revealed that the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry and exporters in the defense industry are trying to challenge the US limitations on Israeli defense exports to China.