The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China who have assimilated into Chinese society while preserving some Jewish traditions and customs. Their origin and time of arrival in Kaifeng are a matter of debate among experts.

Most scholars agree that a Jewish community existed in Kaifeng since the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127), some date their arrival to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) or earlier. Kaifeng, then the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, was a cosmopolitan city on a branch of the Silk Road. It is surmised that a small community of Jews, most likely from Persia or India, arrived either overland or by a sea route, and settled in the city. In 1163 they built a synagogue surrounded by a study hall, a ritual bath, a communal kitchen, a kosher butchering facility, and a sukkah. The synagogue, known as Temple of Purity and Goodness, was destroyed by fire and floods, and restored several times. After a flood in 1852, it remained in ruins.

Kaifeng Jews in "Curse of the Three Demons"[]

After the shaman Sulde failed to exorcise the three demons haunting Sa'id ibn Hawqal, Sa'id returned to Kaifeng proper and headed to the inn he was staying. Along the way, he passed a building that seemed strangely familiar and realized it was that of Jewish origin. Since Jews were people of the book too and those worshiping in the temple were long time residents and so familiar with the local culture, he approached them in desperation to see if they could help him.[1]


  1. Arabesques 2, pgs. 64-65.