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Usa Travel Advice



United States United States, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Israel Travel Advice



Isreal Isreal, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Brazil Travel Advice



Brazil Brazil, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler. Brazil has the second largest Jewish community in Latin America (only behind Argentina), it can be difficult to find kosher meals in the big cities and almost impossible out of the two main states, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. However, there is an option out in the Amazonian city of Manaus, which is detailed below. Kosher products in Brazil generally do not carry kosher symbols. However, there’s a list (in Portugeuse that can be translated into English via Google Translate — use Google Chrome on your computer or mobile device to do this easily) of products compiled by the BDK (Beit Din Kashrut) based in Sao Paulo. KOSHER PRODUCT LIST IN BRAZIL. The Chabad of Manaus in the Amazon rain forest compiled a list of kosher fish found in Brazil.

If you have the chance, please watch a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean. Just enjoy it.

I say this to my shomer kashrut friends when traveling, the best way to eat properly kosher and/or living under the halacha in Brazil is calling Beit Chabad and asking what they recommend. If you visit their website, you’ll find both phone numbers and addresses in almost every big city of Brazil. In most cities, Chabad will be your only source of kosher options.
Sao Paulo is home to the biggest Jewish community in the country. Most of the synagogues and kosher places are in Higienópolis and Jardins areaa. My advice is to keep around that zone, which is a mix of a lot of different cultures, it’s safe and close by Sao Paulo’s downtown. Once there, you’d love to visit All Kosher Supermarket (Rua Alameda Barros, 391. Higienópolis. Sao Paulo) where you’ll feel at home. They actually sell most of the “Made in America” types of food, and it’s home to the only one cheese stores that I found opened in the city.

One of my favorite restaurants in Sao Paulo is Nur Restaurante Mediterrâneo Kasher (Rua Tupi, 792. Consolacao, Sao Paulo). They specialize in kosher meat with Israeli/Mediterranean style foods, and deliver as well. They speak Portuguese, English, Spanish, and many of them speak Hebrew as well.

If you are able to read in Portuguese, the Kosher Map (www.koshermap.com.br) will be a useful tool to plan your trip.

Click here to read more about Kosher in São Paulo.
Rio de JaneiroRio de Janeiro has the second biggest Jewish local community. However, unlike Sao Paulo, Rio has fewer kosher options since most of the Jewish population is not observant. Kosher Planet (Rua Constante Ramos 93A, Copacabana, Río de Janeiro) is a dairy kosher place focused on healthy dining with a nice menu of vegetarian dishes and pasta plates, around one of the most beautiful beaches that I’ve ever been. It’s located right near the Copacabana hotels. You may also have your meal delivered to your hotel, but that option may not always be available, and difficult during the World Cup.
Other kosher restaurants include:

Bar-Ilan Restaurant (R. Pompeu Loureiro, 48)
Deleite Pizza & Pasta (Rua Anita Garibaldi, 83)
Manaus This city in the Amazon rain forest has no kosher restaurants but the Chabad of Manaus is providing a service to visitors by delivering prepared kosher foods to any hotel in the city. CLICK HERE for the order form.

The Chabad also operates a small Kosher store stocked with basics like kosher chicken, meat, cheese, Chalav Yisroel milk, wine, grape juice, etc. It’s open daily at 9am and closes at 5pm M-Th, 3pm on Fri, and 1pm on Sun. The Chabad also provides Shabbat meals with the Chabad family. They ask that you make reservations with them more than a week in advance.

Uruguay Travel Advice



Uruguay The first record of Jewish settlement in Uruguay is in the late 18th century. Today, Uruguay boasts a Jewish population of approximately 17,300 - the fourth largest Jewish community in South America. Uruguay has a long and established Jewish community, and its development parallels the development of the country. Uruguay did not have a significant Inquisition and there are some traces of Conversos who lived in the 16th century. Few documents relating to Jewish history during the Colonial period are extant. In 1726, the governor of Montevideo called upon the first settlers to be "persons of worth, of good habits, repute and family, so that they be not inferior nor of Moorish or Jewish race." The first record of Jewish settlement is in the 1770s. With the end of the Inquisition in 1813, the political and social system of Uruguay evolved to a greater level of openness and tolerance. This openness provided the basis for continued Jewish residence beginning in the nineteenth-century. Documentation of today's Jewish community dates back only to 1880. In 1905, there were various records of the Jews' arrival. The first recorded minyan was not until 1912. In 1909, 150 Jews lived in Montevideo, the city with the largest Jewish population. Despite the history of settlement, the community did not open its first synagogue until 1917. Montevideo Kosher options in Montevideo are limited, but they do exist.

There are 2 kosher restaurants in Montevideo, as well as a kosher list of products of what you can pick up at a local supermarket. We ate at both restaurants as well as navigated the supermarkets – keeping in mind that everything is in Spanish – and we fared OK.

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Montevideo Kosher options in Montevideo are limited, but they do exist.

There are 2 kosher restaurants in Montevideo, as well as a kosher list of products of what you can pick up at a local supermarket. We ate at both restaurants as well as navigated the supermarkets – keeping in mind that everything is in Spanish – and we fared OK.

1)DellyK (or Deli Ka) is a small café style restaurant that we ate at twice. They have quirky hours, opening around 11am and closing by 4pm. They may extend this by the season, so it pays to call ahead. The first time we tried to eat there was around 6pm and they were closed. Luckily, there’s a supermarket next door so we made due.

2) Chabad’s restaurant, Kos Kafe, is more of a counter / take-out style place inside Montevideo’s Chabad house, however there is an abundance of seating in a quaint, nicely decorated interior location.

I do recommend being in touch with the Chabad, who also operates the city’s mikvah, for most Jewish services in the city beyond the advice given here. Unbeknownst to us, there’s a long Jewish history in the city that we did not have the time to explore, but is very detailed in this article from Forward.com.
Punta Del Este the Chabad rabbi of Uruguay’s son runs the relatively new kosher restaurant in town Jalaví Pizzeria (Jalavi = Chalavi = Dairy), which like much of the town, is only open for a few months a year. The restaurant is located at the Punta Shopping mall on the exterior (not inside the mall). Jalavi is Cholov Yisrael,

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Punta Del Este the Chabad rabbi of Uruguay’s son runs the relatively new kosher restaurant in town Jalaví Pizzeria (Jalavi = Chalavi = Dairy), which like much of the town, is only open for a few months a year. The restaurant is located at the Punta Shopping mall on the exterior (not inside the mall). Jalavi is Cholov Yisrael, and the make their own cheese. The food was tasty and filling, probably the best food we had in Uruguay (perhaps by default because the other options weren’t too amazing). We ate there multiple times whilst in PDE, and would recommend it to anyone visiting for lunch or dinner. They’re also open pretty late, especially on Motzei Shabbat when Shabbat ends really late. It’s a late night culture, so this makes sense.

Also in PDE are 2 kosher markets. We visited a small one inside the Sinagoga Beit Yaacov, which is a beautiful Sephardic shul. It’s only open for very limited hours, so be careful when you go. They close early. The market is run by an old Sephardic couple and they make homemade hummus, lachmajin, borekas, and other Sephardic dishes. Other items like packaged pitas, grape juice, wines, and challah were also available.

The other kosher market is much further from the center of town on the peninsula (also in the local shul), and we did not end up stopping there. Here is the list of kosher options from the Chabad website (in Spanish).

The city has 3 shuls in 3 separate areas, so no matter which part of town you’re in, you’ll have access to one.

PDE also has just enough kosher options to make your relaxing stay enjoyable without having to make your own food for every meal.

The Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov (originally from Brooklyn), and his family was not only nice and welcoming, they provided us with tons of advice and hosted us for Friday night dinner.

The main pain point we had was the lack of an eruv. With a toddler in tow, the Friday night dinner at the rabbi’s house was great, but it was a long walk to any of the hotels for a 3 year old that late at night who had fallen asleep earlier at the rabbi’s house.
The Jewish community of Uruguay is made up of 10,000 families of Polish-Russian, Sephardi, German and Hungarian descent. Surprisingly, approximately 75% of Uruguay's Jews are Ashkenazi, while only 11% are of Sephardic descent, however, that was not always the case. In 1917-1918, 75% of the Jewish population were Sephardim. The Jewish community is predominately secular while observing basic elements of the Jewish tradition. Organizationally, the religious and secular functions have been separate since 1942. Jewish cultural life is the prominent expression of Jewish identity in Uruguay, and there is an organized community of secular humanists in Uruguay. In the mid-1990s, there were 14 Orthodox and 1 Masorti (Conservative) synagogue and two Orthodox and two Masorti (Conservative) rabbis. The growing Masorti community is partially due to the growing population of the Seminario Rabinico Latinamerico rabbinical school of the Conservative movement in Argentina (1 of 5 Conservative rabbinical schools in the world). Chabad-Lubavitch also runs a center and several schools in Montevideo and a center in Punta del Este. As of 2003, Uruguay has 20 synagogues, but only six hold weekly Shabbat services, and only the Yavne Community Center synagogue in Montevideo functions every day. Uruguay has Zionist and non-Zionist, Ashkenazi and Sephardi schools. Zionist youth groups such as the national-religious Bnai Akiva, the socialist HaShomer HaTzair, HaNoar HaTzioni, and the Revisionist Betar give informal youth education. Uruguay has eight strong Zionist youth organizations and Uruguay is the only South American country authorized to administer Israel's university entrance exam. Local youth organizations include the Maccabia sports group, and the youth section of the Nueva Congregacion Israelita (NCI). The NCI is the umbrella organization of the Uruguayan Jewish community.

Mexico Travel Advice



Mexico Today, Mexico boasts a strong, active Jewish community approximated at 39,200 - the fourteenth largest Jewish community in the world. The vast majority of Mexico'w Jews live in the capital of Mexico City, where there are 23 synagogues, several Kosher restaurants and at least 12 Jewish schools, where 80 percent of the Jewish youth receive their education. Small Jewish communities can also be found in Guadalajara , Monterrey, Tijuana, Cancun and San Miguel. Throught all of Mexico, 95 percent of Jewish families belong to a synagogue. Eighty to ninety percent of Jewish children in Mexico City attend a Jewish school. Only about 1 out of every 10 Mexican Jews intermarries. This is way below the fifty precent rate of the United States and one of the lowest rates in Latin America. The world's largest city also contains the Tuvia Maizel Museum, dedicated to the history of Mexican Jewry and to the Holocaust. Isla Mujeres Isla Mujeres is an island paradise a 20-minute ferry ride from mainland Cancun, Mexico. The island is home to 15 Jewish families out of a a year-round population of 13,000, who enjoy food at local kosher cafes and participate in weekly services at the local Chabad house. The Jewish residents are comprised of the elder generation who came to the island in the 1960's and 70's, young Israelis who moved to the Island for a less complicated life, and young Rabbis

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Isla Mujeres is an island paradise a 20-minute ferry ride from mainland Cancun, Mexico. The island is home to 15 Jewish families out of a a year-round population of 13,000, who enjoy food at local kosher cafes and participate in weekly services at the local Chabad house. The Jewish residents are comprised of the elder generation who came to the island in the 1960's and 70's, young Israelis who moved to the Island for a less complicated life, and young Rabbis who run the Chabad Isla Mujeres. The island is a popular destination for Israelis looking to relax following their conscripted military service. Since most of the early Jewish immigrants were well-established middle-aged couples in the 1960's and 70's, not much attention was paid to establishing Jewish schools or other religious institutions. More recently, as the influx of young Jews to the island continued, a Jewish school was established that currently has 6 students. In 2012 the Chabad Isla Mujeres welcomed 70 guests to it's first Passover Seder, including tourists, young Israelis fresh out of the army, and sponsors from Chabad Crown Heights who had given the Rabbis seed money and support to start the congregation. Within two years, the Chabad Isla Mujeres was hosting holiday dinners easily exceeding 500 people in attendance. The Chabad Isla Mujeres is supported by Chabad International and other organizations in the United States and Israel, as well as individual donations from their members.
Acapulco The only kosher food available in Acapulco is in the Grand Hotel Acapulco (formerly the Hyatt). For the last 2 weeks of December through the end of February, the hotel converts one of it’s restaurants (El Isleño) to a full service Kosher restaurant. The restaurant serves three meals a day (including Shabbos) which can be paid for per meal, or included in the cost of the room. Other than that, there is very little kosher food

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The only kosher food available in Acapulco is in the Grand Hotel Acapulco (formerly the Hyatt). For the last 2 weeks of December through the end of February, the hotel converts one of it’s restaurants (El Isleño) to a full service Kosher restaurant. The restaurant serves three meals a day (including Shabbos) which can be paid for per meal, or included in the cost of the room. Other than that, there is very little kosher food available. I had trouble finding kosher food elsewhere.The hotel (Grand Hotel Acapulco) has a shul downstairs. The minyan is Sephardic so it may be a little of a culture shock if you are not used to it. They have three daily minyanim, and of course davening on Shabbos. On Shabbos, they have people waiting by the desk to go upstairs with you and open your room since all the locks are electronic.
Cozumel The only kosher food available in Cozumel is at Jerusalem Kosher Bar & Grill Restaurant. The restaurant is located in the downtown area of Cozumel (about 5 blocks from the ferry pier) on the second floor of the Forum Shops building. The restaurant offers Glatt kosher Israeli style platters that are fresh and delicious. The atmosphere is old Jerusalem with the Caribbean ocean as your back drop. The views are delightful,

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The only kosher food available in Cozumel is at Jerusalem Kosher Bar & Grill Restaurant. The restaurant is located in the downtown area of Cozumel (about 5 blocks from the ferry pier) on the second floor of the Forum Shops building. The restaurant offers Glatt kosher Israeli style platters that are fresh and delicious. The atmosphere is old Jerusalem with the Caribbean ocean as your back drop. The views are delightful, you can dine in a setting that makes you feel like your sitting in a classic Israeli restaurant in the Old City but with the Caribbean Sea in front of you. The restaurant is under the strict supervision of Chabad of Cozumel.
In addition to the restaurant, just next door is a kosher “grocery” store, offering a wide variety of products. So if your staying on the island, or just passing through and need to get your fill of kosher food you can do it there. The store offers many products from Israel, ranging from snacks such as bamba and bissli, to pickles, kosher wine, and spices, a wide range of meats and chicken, pas yisrael fresh baked challah rolls and bread, cholov yisrael cheeses and milk, and much more.
Cancun Your choice of eating kosher in Cancun (unless you are staying in one of the kosher resorts over Passover) is either ordering catered meals from Chabad or bringing your own food (though no beef or fresh produce allowed into Mexico), which you can supplement by a variety of kosher products found in local stores.

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Your choice of eating kosher in Cancun (unless you are staying in one of the kosher resorts over Passover) is either ordering catered meals from Chabad or bringing your own food (though no beef or fresh produce allowed into Mexico), which you can supplement by a variety of kosher products found in local stores. cancun1Chabad lists what you can spot in Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco. In addition to the familiar US hashgachos, there are two Mexican ones – KMD and VK Alef Alef – to look out for. For example, LALA milk (not Chalav Israel) with VK Alef Alef is easily found everywhere. On our trip to Walmart we also discovered yummy LALA yogurts and another brand with KMD hechsher (very cheap too, they were at about $0.25!), as well as cream cheese, lox, tofu, canned goods, cereals, ice cream, and lots of snacks.

Cambodia Travel Advice



Cambodia Kosher options in Cambodia are limited, but they do exist. Most of the processed food sold in Cambodia is imported. This makes many products to have reliable kosher symbols. At Lucky Supermarkets you will find kosher products such as crackers, cookies, pasta, tuna, sardines, cereals, chips, pretzels, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, oil, you can even find kosher whin importet from isreal, and more, as well as Kosher fish. Click Here is a listvof kosher fish find in cambodia The only kosher Resturant in Cambodia is the cahabad in phnom penh, Before Traveling cambodia it would be a good advise to call the chabad rav in phnom pehn Rabbi Bentzion Butman.
Chabad Cambodia is your home in Cambodia. Feel free to show up at any time as Thay have an open door policy with poeple coming in and out from 8 am to 9 pm.
chabad phnom pehn offers a full menu of fresh food daily 9 am to 9 pm, as well as a sandwich menu 24 hours. Delivery is available to any point in greater Cambodia ! (25$ + Delivery depending on what delivery you request. usually they can sand it to anywhere with the bus for 5-10$).
Chabad can do group orders in and out of Phnom pehn. Special group menu is available upon request.
Chack Out There website for more info www.jewishcambodia.com
Phnom Pehn if you have been before 2016 in phnom pehn, you probly been in the chabad house, well for the next time you travel keep in mind the chbad The chabad house jost muved to there own new bulding, chabad is located on Sisowath Quay (AKA Riverside) in an allay between House 417 and house 421 across the street from Himawari Hotel and Hotel Cambodiana, (If you come with your own car (on weekdays), please use the parking lot of Himawari Hotel. The chabad made arrangements with them) This central location is just 2 minutes walk from the southeast corner of Royal Palace and riverside, 2 minutes from Cambodia Vietnam Relationship Monument, and 5 minutes from Independence Monument. Khmer Rouge When the Khmer Rouge came to power, Jews made up a miniscule 0.1% of the population in Cambodia. Jews and other religious minorities, including Christians, Muslims, and Hindus were sought out and killed by Pol Pot's forces due to their minority status. Very few Jews reside in Cambodia currently, and the small Jewish community there consists of ex-patriots, NGO workers, travelers, hikers, and adventurers. Approximately 200 Jewish individuals reside in Cambodia year-round, with most of them living in the capital city of Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Chabad welcomes these Jews with open doors, with a sign out front reading “No Jew will be left behind.” Dror Marcus, an Israeli ex-patriot who once attempted to open Cambodia's first Israeli restaurant, opened the Chabad house in 2008 after living in the country for over 20 years. The Chabad house serves on average 25 meals every Friday night, and includes a small Kosher grocery store. An estimated 60-70 Jews live in 20 towns throughout the Cambodian countryside. Siem Reap a popular tourist destination about 200 miles outside of Phnom Penh, is home to 20 Jews, most of whom work at the local hospital. and 70 jewish pepole who live in phnom phen

China Travel Advice



China Keeping kosher can always be a bit tricky, especially while traveling. But like in every developing country, awareness towards other religions and cultures is increasing (slowly, but surely). We hope you find these Kosher tid-bits useful during your Chinese travels.

1. Kosher products are available at small western stores throughout Beijing, such as Jenny Lou’s.

2. Kosher chickens can be bought at the German Butchery. (8610) 6591 9370 First Floor, Binduyuan Building No 15 Zaoying Beili Maizidian, Chao Yang District, Beijing.

3. Chicken, beef, and lamb can be bought at Chabad Hashgacha. Catering and delivery of kosher meals can be arranged through Chabad for individuals (24 hours notice is required) or tour groups (two weeks notice is required. www.chabadbeijing.com)

4. Dini’s is the first kosher restaurant to open in Beijing. They’ll also vacuum-pack meals for you to eat on your travels around China. (8610) 6461 6220 or visit www.kosherbeijing.com

5. Kosher Bagels under Chabad Hashgacha are available through Mrs Shanens Bagels. Ask for the Kosher Bagels and they are delivered free to your hotel/home/office (8610) 6435 9561.

6. China is known for its wide array of fruits and vegetables! This is a chance to become familiar with all these different choices and indulge in plenty of vitamins.
For those who rely on the Heter of Reb Moshe Feinstein OBM please note: Local milk is not considered Cholov Stam. The only milk that can be considered Cholov Stam in China is long life imported milk from countries such as Australia and France. Suggestion: Bring your own packaged soups that just require added hot water. A main part of the Chinese culture is soup, and on-the-go most Chinese people will have “cup-of-soup” equivalents, and to cater to that, hot water is available everywhere, even on long distance trains. This goes for everywhere in China. Traditions soups (and its equivalents) will be very helpful in China. Beijing There are 2 Chabad centers in Beijing. The main Chabad house is located in the Chaoyang District, in the northern area, whereas the smaller Chabad center is further south from there (both in the east of Beijing). I only visited the larger of the 2 centers. There is a kosher restaurant in the same vicinity, called Dini’s Restaurant. (Note: there is an Israeli restaurant almost next door to Dini’s, and even though it has Hebrew writing on the sign, it is NOT kosher). The restaurant is meat and delicious and fairly priced. You may order food “to-go” there. The Shabbat meals, both Friday night and Shabbat day are eaten in the restaurant as well (not at the Chabad house!). Go to www.kosherbeijing.com for Restaurant info.
There is a supermarket “chain” (there are at least 2 of them) in Beijing called Jenny Lou’s, and they sell a ton of American products, many of which are kosher. They even have kosher soy milk there. I believe there is another supermarket called “Super Center” that also sells a lot of American products. Exact information can be received from contacts at Chabad.

The main chabad has minyanim on shabbat (most of the time) and sometimes during the week. There is a Mikvah located by the Jewish School about 30 minutes from town (get details from the Chabad family). Get directions in Chinese and English on the website, and print it out to show to a taxi driver. The website will also show places to stay within walking distance nearby. No youth hostels are really within walking distance under an hour, but there is a budgeted hotel called the Home Inn closer by. The whole Chabad family, including the children really add to the atmosphere and they are very welcoming. The re are currently 3 Chabadnik girls brought in from France to help with the Shlichut and they too are very much a part of the community. Chabad Beijing = a really wonderful experience!

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Beijing
Guangzhou Changzhou, located 100 miles from Shanghai, is a popular business hub in China that has recently seen an influx of Israeli business. Within 5 years, 50-100 Israeli companies are expected to have a presence in the area. In order to accommodate these Israeli businessmen and to make them feel comfortable, the Wujin Economic Zone (WEZ) is building a community center for them, complete with a synagogue and kosher restaurant. It is expected to be finished by the end of this year.
Guangzhou, outside of Hong Kong, hosts the bi-annual Canton Fair (China’s Import and Export Fair) which many kosher observant Jews attend for business. The local Ritz-Carlton has partnered with Hong Kong’s Kehilat Zion Synagogue creating a temporary Glatt kosher restaurant & synagogue within the luxury hotel, known as “The most prestigious and beautiful hotel in Southern China”.
The Canton Fair runs for 3 stages from Oct 15 – Nov 4, however both of these entities will be on property and available to guests between Oct 23 and November 2, 2014. Kehilat Zion Synagogue will facilitate religious services as well as provide kosher dining for travelers at the Ritz-Carlton who make reservations through the shul’s promotion.
Kehilat Zion runs a Glatt Kosher restaurant in Kowloon, Hong Kong open for travelers throughout the year. The shul serves full Glatt Kosher meals over Shabbat at no cost, although reservations are required by emailing Rabbi Meoded.
ShanghaiThere are 2 chabad centers in Shanghai – one in Pudong, and one in the main part of Shanghai on Hong Qiao Road in the south-eastern part of town. I haven’t visited the one in Pudong, but info can be accessed at www.jewishpudong.com. From personal experience, I can say that the Chabad Jewish Center offers free of charge, delicious meals on Friday night and Shabbbat day. They also order kosher, Israeli products online, and you can order as well through the Chabad center. Their website (www.chinajewish.org) advises that fruits and vegetables can be purchased locally but to wash them very carefully with disinfectant soap and water. Buy from street vendors at your own risk. Food and challah can be purchased from Chabad, as well. Some of the local supermarkets do sell American products, so look for a kosher hechsher.
Both Chabad Centers are great Jewish outlets. In the Hong Qiao area, they have minyanim on Shabbat, and I believe during the week as well. The Rabbi and Rebbetzin are very welcoming. On Friday night dinner, all the new and visiting people are required to get up and introduce themselves to everyone. There are mainly French-speaking people there (although not the Chabad family). In the Pudong area, there are some old, not-in-use synagogues that are now tourist attractions, and have lots of history to them.
Shenzhen Essentially, the only kosher food available in Shenzhen is at the Chabad house. They provide both Friday night and Shabbat day meals free of charge (donations are welcomed). You may also order meals from them to take away. Because of its close proximity to Hong Kong (Shenzhen is the border city with Hong Kong) you can easily travel back and forth there to replenish food stocks (but you will need a multiple entry visa to get back into Shenzhen, whereas the Hong Kong Visa is given on arrival).
Chabad is the only Jewish thing you will find in Shenzhen, and they do have minyanim (almost always) on Shabbat, but not always during the week. No Mikvah here… must travel to the mikvah in Hong Kong. To get to the Chabad, go to www.chabadshenzhen.org and print out their address to show to a taxi driver in Chinese. Most people here won’t speak any English. The building, while I was there, didn’t have any signage that it held Chabad inside, so my advice would be to contact the Chabad beforehand and ask for help.

Shenzhen is the world’s capital for knock-off designer bags. The LoWu shopping center, located at the beginning of the main subway line, is the first thing you encounter once you have crossed the border form Hong Kong. There you will find 5 heavily saturated floors with people forcing themselves on you to buy something (they sometimes get physical and grab your arm – so BEWARE! But no one will hurt you – I’d still recommended the place for the experience). There you can also get massages and manicures at very discounted prices. Make sure to bargain for everything! Don’t pay more than 65% of the original asked price, but you can absolutely go lower than 35% even. About 15 minutes walking from the Chabad Center is a nice lake that is quiet and serene at night, while lit up with lights, and is a good place to go and relax with a beer.
The Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) - For hundred of years, the Silk Road served as a link between East and West. Before the perfection of maritime navigational techniques, it was the primary route of trade between China and its eastern neighbors. Different routes of the Silk Road took goods and people from China to India, to Persia, to Arabia, and to the Mediterranean Coast, which then connected to Europe and Africa.
For hundred of years, the Silk Road served as a link between East and West. Before the perfection of maritime navigational techniques, it was the primary route of trade between China and its eastern neighbors. Different routes of the Silk Road took goods and people from China to India, to Persia, to Arabia, and to the Mediterranean Coast, which then connected to Europe and Africa. During the time of the Silk Road, many Jews become involved in international trade. In many ways, they were uniquely qualified for the profession. There existed significant Jewish communities in India, Persia, the Arab nations, and in cities throughout Europe; in almost all these communities, a good number of Jews were already merchants. While most Arabs and Persians could not speak Russian, Greek, or Italian, Jews in Persia, Arabia, and Europe all knew enough Hebrew to communicate with each other. Thus Persian and Middle Eastern Jews had a much easier time trading with European Jews than Arab Muslims did with European Christians. As tensions between Christians and Muslims heated up around the time of the Crusades, many of them refused to or were not permitted to trade with each other, while Jews throughout the world had no problem selling goods to their kinsmen. Persian Shiites and Arab Sunni Muslims would sometimes be at war with each other, or with Hindu Indians or with Christian Europeans, yet the Jewish community stayed united and continued trading between countries.
As there were a disproportionately high number of Jews in the trading profession, it should not be surprising that some of these Jews became involved in trade with China. Up until the past century, there was a significant Jewish population in Persia, and since the Persian Jews traded with the West, there is no reason to think they did not trade with the East as well. Although there is no evidence of the existence of a Jewish community in China before the Song Dynasty, a few historians still claim that the Kaifeng Jewish community was founded in 200 CE or earlier. Most evidence supports the theory that a significant number of Jews, hundreds or perhaps thousands, migrated from Persia to Kaifeng some time during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Some historians believe the Jews of Kaifeng originated in Bukhara, a city in Uzbekistan that was once part of Persia. A 1489 inscription states that 70 families came to Kaifeng, although it is unclear as to whether this meant 70 clans (surnames) or 70 families (households). No one can say for sure why this mass migration occurred; perhaps there was a famine, drought, or other natural disaster, or maybe local Persian authorities were hostile to the Jews. It is also possible that these Jews had been drawn to Kaifeng by tales of the city’s beauty and comfort, yet one can only speculate why such a large group of Jews would leave Persia, a nation where they had lived since the Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE, to venture to the distant and unknown city of Kaifeng, China.
While a cloud of mystery remains around the Jews’ long trek and early years in China, the history of the city they traveled to, Kaifeng, is well known. The Jewish migrants entered Kaifeng during its most glorious years, as between 960 to 1127, Kaifeng was the capital of Song Dynasty’s China, and is believed to have had a larger population than any other city in the world at the time. All evidence seems to indicate that the Kaifeng Jewish community enjoyed its early decades in the city, as a pillar at the site of their synagogue states that the Song Emperor invited them to stay in Kaifeng and practice their religion freely. The Jews, who kept giving their children Hebrew names for their first eight or nine generations in China, kept their religion yet immersed themselves in Chinese culture and society. Perhaps no two cultural groups revere scholarship more than the Jews and the Chinese, and this common bond perhaps made the Jews feel at home. While some Jews continued to be merchants, a profitable yet less respected profession, the most talented became scholars of either Jewish culture or Chinese culture. The scholars of Judaism because Jewish leaders, while a great number of Jews studied to take China’s prestigious civil service exams, which Jews passed disproportionately.
While the pillar states that the Jewish community arrived during the Song Dynasty, it does not state what year or the name of the Emperor. The city of Kaifeng was ravaged in 1127 by Jurchen invaders, who conquered most of Northern China, forcing the remains of the Song dynasty to flee south, where a new Song Emperor continued to rule over Southern China from Hangzhou. When the Jurchens established the Jin Dynasty over Northern China, Kaifeng was decimated, and more than half the population either died or left the city. A pillar outside the Kaifeng synagogue infers that a significant number a Jews fled with the imperial family to Hangzhou, the new Song capital. This disaster leads many historians to speculate that the Jews moved to Kaifeng at least 40 years before the chaos of 1127 theorizing that the Jews would have all left the city had they not spent several good decades there. Likewise, since Kaifeng must have been a large, attractive city before the Jewish community decided to migrate there, historians think that the large Jewish community migrated there sometime in the 11th century.

The Jin Dynasty (1127-1233) - After the attack on Kaifeng, the city was taken by the Jurchens and became part of the Jin Dynasty, when it lost the prestige of being a capital. Much of the city was destroyed, and it took several decades for the city to be rebuilt. Although some Jews left the city, the city’s destruction offered those who remained the opportunity to buy more land when the city was rebuilt. The Jewish community took advantage of the opportunity, and built their first synagogue in 1163. Yet the Jewish community in Kaifeng always had fond memories of the Song Dynasty, and continued using the Song calendar even after the Jin took control, as the synagogue dedication pillar was dedicated using the Song calendar date to write the year 1163. Due to the war with the Mongols in the North, the Jin moved their capital to Kaifeng in 1214, where it remained until the Jin dynasty fell to the Mongol in 1233. While Kaifeng never served as a Chinese capital again, the Jewish community of Kaifeng would continue to flourish for centuries to come.

The Mongolia Invasion and Yuan Dynasty (1233, 1279-1368) - In 1233, the city of Kaifeng fell, along with the entire Jin Dynasty, to the Mongolians, who later established the Yuan Dynasty in China. As neither the ruling Mongols nor the Jews were ethnically Chinese, the Jews were among the groups that benefitted when the Mongols dropped all laws that gave the Han majority legal advantages over minorities. As the Mongols distrusted the Chinese, they ended the civil service exam system that had been used to select government officials. As a way of decreasing Han power, they place foreigners, such as Jews, in positions within the bureaucracy. Yet there were also disadvantages to Mongol rule, as a 1280 Yuan degree banned all Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter because the Emperor felt insulted that certain subjects felt that the meat fit for him was not good enough for them.
Additionally, it is important to note that the Yuan era was a time of great migration movement throughout them empire. As the Mongols brought many slaves back from Persia and Arab states, it is likely that some Jews were brought to China as slaves. Perhaps after securing freedom, some of these Jews came to China’s Jewish capital, Kaifeng. This may explain how Jewish practices from Yemen, as well as from the 13th Century Rabbi Maimonides came to Kaifeng, as many of their liturgical traditions and prayers were not around before Jews moved to China.

The Golden Age During the Ming Years (1368-1644) - In 1368, the Yuan were overthrown and the Han once again ruled Kaifeng, meaning Confucianism and Chinese tradition regained their role in society and in people’s lives. Unlike Jews in many other nations, Chinese Jews could fully engage in society, including public affairs and government service. In 1390, the Jews were granted additional land and privileges; in 1421 they received permission to rebuild their synagogue, and the Jews placed an imperial tablet in the synagogue in the Ming Emperor’s honor. As the Jews of Kaifeng became more prosperous, they added more buildings to their synagogue compound in the 1440’s. A 1461 flood destroyed the synagogue, but the community rebuilt it soon after, and obtained new Torahs from the Jewish communities in Ningbo and Yangzhou.
Not only were the Jewish people successful in their own community, but they also were productive members of Chinese society during this Golden Age. A disproportionately large number of Jews passed the Chinese Civil Service exams during the Ming Dynasty. Four different inscriptions from 1489, 1512, 1663, and 1679 list the names of 80 different Kaifeng Jews who passed the exams and became Chinese officials. Additionally, the 1663 inscription lists 241 names, including 21 community officials and 38 civil, military, scholar, and medical official in Chinese society. These numbers are incredible coming from a community of under 5,000 people. Some Jews even received high imperial posts; for example, in 1423, a Kaifeng Jew named An Cheng was rewarded the name Zhao Cheng by Prince Ting of Chao. He was promoted to be the assistant commissioner of the Regional Military Commission on Chekiang. Jews were often very successful as Chinese officials, as throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasties, there are records that show at least three Jews were awarded the title Kung Sheng, one was awarded the title Gong Sheng, five Jews were awarded the title Ju Ren, one Jew reached the incredibly high status of Jing Shi, and another served as the official physician to the Prince of Zhou.
Thus, it should not be surprising that the social status of the Jewish community rose significantly during the Ming Dynasty. Clearly, the most important sources of information about the Jewish population of Kaifeng come from the four inscriptions made outside the site of the synagogue. These four inscriptions, made in 1489, 1512, 1663, and 1679, all commemorated the rebuilding or renovation of the synagogue. They all mentioned the names of non-Jews who contributed to the rebuilding of the synagogue. The fact that each successive inscription had more and more important non-Jewish names on it indicates an increase in the status of the Jewish community. Unfortunately, there were negative effects of the secular successes of Chinese Jewry. Many of the greatest Chinese Jewish minds went to study the Chinese Classics in preparation for the civil service exams. These talented Jews could not have had time to learn Hebrew or much about Judaism, so they had to abandon religious studies to succeed in the secular world. This “brain-drain” undoubtedly harmed the community, as many officials were also moved to other cities when they received promotions, as was common at the time.
The Golden Age of Kaifeng Jewry ended abruptly in 1642, when the Ming Army broke the Yellow River dams to quash a peasant rebellion. Unfortunately, the plan backfired, and roughly half of the 600,000 people living in Kaifeng were killed. It is estimated that a similar percentage of the Kaifeng Jews died, as historians believe that the city’s Jewish population shrunk from almost 5,000 to under 2,500 people.

The Practice of Judaism in Kaifeng (960-1850) - As in most Jewish Diaspora communities, the practice of the Jewish religion in Kaifeng took on some aspects similar to the practices of the native Chinese. This is not to say that the Jews of Kaifeng fundamentally altered their religion; quite the opposite is true, as the Jewish religion maintained its integrity and unique monotheist aspects for centuries. It would be more accurate to say that the Jews in China naturally focused on the values within their own religion that were compatible with the native Confucian way of life. Judaism is in many practical ways, a very flexible religion, as Judaism has adapted to its surroundings while keeping its core theological tenets, moral values, and religious identity intact. This adaptability allowed Judaism to survive outside of Israel and gave Jews the ability to flourish in almost any culture they are transplanted to.
American Jews, for instance, give their children gifts for Hanukkah because they saw this as a harmonious cultural counterpart to the American Christians’ practice of giving gift on Christmas. Non-American Jews would never think of giving gifts in December, as there is no reason to, yet American Jews began the practice in order to fit into their surroundings. Similarly, although polygamy is permitted in the Jewish religion, Rabbi Gershom ben Judah issued a rabbinical ordinance 1000 years ago forbidding all European Jews from practicing polygamy. Rabbi Gershom did this not because Judaism forbade polygamy, but rather to allow Jews to fit in better with their neighbors; to this day, there is no Jewish law forbidding non-Ashkenazi Jewish men from having multiple wives.
It is necessary to view the Kaifeng Jewish community through this context to better understand what effect Chinese culture had on their religion. In truth, the Jews of Kaifeng held remarkably faithful to their religion for an incredible amount of time considering their small number and near isolation. Kaifeng Jews continued to give their children Hebrew names for an incredible seven or eight generation before adapting only Chinese names. In contrast, many American do not have Jewish first names, and many altered their surnames upon entering the country.
For many generations, most Jews in Kaifeng had their children learn Hebrew in the city’s synagogue. The Kaifeng synagogue was built in 1163, and it was rebuilt, renovated, or enlarged at least a dozen times over the next 700 years by the generations of Jews who made use of it. While the building had Chinese architecture, the Jewish synagogue differed from all other Chinese places of worship in that there were no idols or pictures inside. During their time in Kaifeng, the Jews embraced many elements of Chinese culture, yet continued to adhere to their own faith. Interestingly, the Jews of Kaifeng did, however, adapt the Chinese practice of ancestor-worship. Perhaps because of the similarities between this and the Jewish custom of Yizkor and Yahrzeit services for the dead, Jews seemed to find this practice acceptable. Since there is nothing in Judaism to prohibit such practice, the Rabbis of Kaifeng must have concluded that it could be done, although it must be done in a Jewish way. The Chinese would burn incense and give offering to tablets and depictions of their ancestors; the Jews, however, would burn incense and leave offerings, but they would never allow themselves to worship or leave an offering to any depictions, as that would border on idolatry. This practice became so common among Kaifeng Jews that a “Hall of Ancestors” was built for that purpose.
While some practices the Kaifeng Jews adapted were adaptations they chose, they also yielded to the Chinese Imperial law when it conflicted with their practices. There are two good examples of how Jews dealt with these legal conflicts. For instance, according to the Torah, if a husband dies before giving his wife her first child, the eldest surviving brother of the husband is required to marry his brother’s widow. This conflicted with Chinese custom, and the Yuan Dynasty made such marriages illegal. The Jewish community in Kaifeng was forced to yield to Chinese law. In another example, a Chinese emperor demanded that a portrait of him must be in every house of worship. Even though this conflicted with Jewish custom, the Jews did put up the portrait in the entryway of their synagogue. They did, however, write in Hebrew the holy prayer the Shema above the Emperor’s picture. The Shema, which is translated as “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Bless His Glorious Kingdom Forever and Ever”, is the central statement of Jewish theology and was written above the portrait to remind Jews that the one God is above even the Emperor of China. It appears that for most of their existence, the Kaifeng Jews practiced most traditional Jews customs and rituals. They clearly kept the Jewish dietary laws, as they were known to only eat meat they slaughtered according to the laws of Kashrut; even some of their descendants today do not eat pork. The Chinese even called Jews “The Sect that Plucks Out the Sinews” in reference to the Jewish custom of removing the thigh muscle from Kosher meat. They also established ritual bathes, cemeteries, and charitable institutions. They read Torah, taught their children Hebrew, and even ritually circumcised their sons. They built and rebuilt their synagogue at least nine times, which they referred to as “The Temple of Purity and Truth.” They observed Jewish holidays, and had a Rabbi until the 19th century. Kaifeng Jews wore blue kippot, although besides that the Jews wore the same clothes as the rest of the Chinese.
In terms of marriage, it appears that in the early days, the Jews married only within the community. As time went on, it seems that Jewish men marrying Han or Hui wives became more acceptable, although almost all Jewish women married Jewish men. This was possible because polygamy was legal ad acceptable, although it is likely only wealthier men could afford it. As the community got smaller, the Jews ended up permitting their daughters to intermarry, although sources claim that families preferred their daughters marrying Muslims if Jewish men were not available, as there were some similarities between Judaism and Islam. The 1670 Memorial Book listed 49 wives as “Children of Adam”, meaning they were not born Jewish, indicating an intermarriage rate of about one in four (compared with a nearly one in two intermarriage rate in the American Jewish community today). This may explain why all Kaifeng Jews today look Chinese.
It is also important to note that the Jews of China were not entirely isolated during their early centuries there. Certain Yemeni practices indicate that some Yemeni Jews must have entered the community. Furthermore, the Jews of Kaifeng practiced some of the legal interpretations of the famous Rabbi Moses Maimonides, who was born in 1135. As the Jews entered Kaifeng before 1135, this proves, that there must have been some contact with the outside Jewish community, and that the Kaifeng Jews updated their Jewish customs along with the rest of the Jewish community that they had contact with.As stated earlier, a 1489 inscription states that 70 families came to Kaifeng originally during the Northern Song Dynasty, although it is unclear as to whether this meant 70 clans (surnames) or 70 families (households). Some historians believe that this meant 70 families and 17 clans, as historically as many as 17 surnames can be linked to Kaifeng Jews. The population grew and shrunk throughout the decades through growth, as well as through mass migration and natural disaster. Many Jews left the city when a Jurchen attack became apparent in 1127, and other Jews left after the attack to live in the new Song capital in Hangzhou. However, even despite this exodus, a 1679 inscription states that there were 73 clans, and more than 500 families altogether when the synagogue was built in 1163. Many floods plagued the city throughout the centuries, which caused both the Han and Jewish population to shrink, the largest of which occurred in 1642, when a flood destroyed much of the city. For the first seven or eight generations in China, it appears Jews continued to give their children Hebrew names. Eventually though, likely during the early Ming period, all Kaifeng Jews adapted Chinese names, and the 1489 inscription lists Jews with 17 different Chinese surnames, including Li, Yen, Ai, Kao, Mu, Zhao, Jin, Zhou, Zhang, Shi, Huang, Nie, Lí, Jín, An, Zuo and Bei. According to the Kaifeng Memorial Book, a book which documented all of the deaths in the Kaifeng Jewish community for many years ending in the 1670s, by the 1600’s all Chinese Jews had one of seven surnames: Zhao, Zhang, Li, Ai, Kao, Jin, or Shi. Most likely, the other ten clans were either killed by the 1642 flood, or left the city for other reasons. All seven clans played important roles in the Jewish community, and there were many families within each clan. Here is a list of the number of families in each clan mentioned within the book. In all, 241 families were mentioned, indicating a Jewish population of 1,000-2,000 in the city in 1670.
Wang Yisha, a Kaifeng scholar, believes that the number of Jews living in the city before the flood could be estimated by the number of the synagogue’s Torah scrolls. Thus, according to Wang, there were over 500 Jewish families in Kaifeng before the flood, indicating a population of three to four thousand. Considering Kaifeng’s total population was more than cut in half by the 1642 flood, it would make sense that there were over 500 families before the flood and only over 240 in the city by 1670. A Jesuit named Gozani who visited in the early 1700’s estimated a population of two or three thousand, which is consistent with the estimates of modern scholars. To compound losses, many Jewish and non-Jewish Chinese died or left the city in the 1850’s when Kaifeng was sacked during the Taiping Rebellion, which severely damaged the city’s economy. By the end of the 19th century, historians estimate only several hundred Jews lived in Kaifeng. Even more Kaifeng Jews were likely displaced during the Japanese Occupation, which left the Kaifeng with only half of its pre-war population.

Chinese Jews Outside Kaifeng Before Modern Times (718-1600) - Although some allege that there were Jews in China as early as the Han Dynasty, this is only speculation, as the earliest evidence of the existence of Jews in China was from the Tang Dynasty. A few letters in Hebrew and Judeo-Persian written on Chinese paper were found in Northwest China, dating back to 718 CE, and were likely written by Jewish traders. Additionally, a traveler named Abu-Zaid explicitly mentioned that Jews were killed during the 877 massacres of foreigners in Khanfu, which was likely the port city Canton. During the Tang Dynasty, the city of Xi’an, which was frequented by Persia merchants, likely had the first settled Jewish community, as a Chinese poem mentioned Jewish people living there.
The Jews of Kaifeng were not entirely isolated from all other Jews, as records indicated that Jewish communities existed to some extent in at least four other Chinese cities at the time, although far less is known about these communities than the one in Kaifeng and they do not appear to have lasted as long. Hangzhou, Ningbo, Ningxia, and Yangzhou all contained Jewish communities that were in contact with the Jews of Kaifeng. The Jews of Hangzhou, the Southern Song capital, likely came from Kaifeng around 1127 when the city was sacked. Ai Tien, a Jew from Kaifeng who met Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit Priest and missionary, in Beijing in 1605, told Ricci that a significant number of Jews had once lived in Hangzhou and even built a synagogue. Ibn Battuta, an Arab traveler who visited the city in 1346, also attested to the existence of Jews in the city and claimed to have seen a gate called “Jews’ Gate”. The community for some reason ceased to exist before Ai’s 1605 meeting with Ricci.
Outside of Kaifeng, it seems that the largest Chinese Jewish community of the era existed in Ningbo, which was a major port city. The Ningbo community must have been observant and likely had a synagogue, as in 1461, they donated two Torah scrolls to the Kaifeng Jews after their scrolls had been damaged in a flood. The 1489 inscription in Kaifeng mentions good relations with the Jewish community of Ningbo, which must have been fairly large if it could spare two Torah scrolls. Like the rest of the Jewish communities outside Kaifeng, Jewish life in Ningbo seems to have ended by the year 1600. There were Jews in other cities as well who were in contact with Kaifeng and were mentioned in the inscriptions. According to the 1512 inscription, some Jews from the city of Yangzhou contributed a scroll to the Kaifeng synagogue, and helped build a gateway outside the building. The 1489 and 1512 inscription also both note that members of the Jin family, who were from Ningzia, also donated to the synagogue. Records from Christian travelers attested to the existence of Jewish communities in three other cities. The famed Italian traveler, Marco Polo, wrote that there were Jews in Beijing in 1286, and said that the Yuan Emperor showed respect for four religions, with Judaism being one of them. Two later missionaries confirmed the existence of Jews in Beijing. Additionally, Catholic Bishop and missionary Andrew of Perugia wrote a letter to Rome stating that they were unable to convert the Jews of Quanzhou. A Jewish community also likely existed in Nanjing, as a Portuguese missionary claimed that he last four remaining Jewish families in Nanjing converted to Islam in the early 17th century.

Decline under the Qing Dynasty (1642-1912) - Demographics, disaster, and their isolation from all other Jewish communities led to the downfall of the Jewish community in Kaifeng. As mentioned earlier, the 1642 Kaifeng flood was the most destructive event in the history of the Kaifeng Jews, and marked the beginning of the decline of Judaism in China. Their homes and the synagogue were destroyer; the Torah, as well as other sacred texts, was also submerged, although some texts were rescued and copied after a few Jews swam in to save them. For over a decade afterward, the Kaifeng Jews rented a large house on the north bank of the Yellow River, which they used as a temporary synagogue until the city was ready to be resettled. The synagogue rebuilt on the same site in 1663, and thirteen rewritten Torah scrolls were placed inside. These Torahs, which were eventually sold to Christian missionaries when the community declined in the late 19th century, were nearly identical to the Torah reading the rest of the world. To many matters worse, the Manchus who founded the Qing dynasty in 1644, were unfriendly to religious minorities in China. The Qing took away the powers of minorities to solve their own civil matter and judicial cases. Furthermore, as disputes between the Qing Dynasty and the local Muslim and Christian populations became more common, the Qing became more hostile toward all non-Chinese religions. Muslim rebellions in China during this time were brutally suppressed, and as most Chinese did not know the difference between a Jew and Muslim, Jews started hiding their Jewish identity to avoid oppression. Around the same time, increased activity by Christian missionaries made the Qing grow even wearier of foreigners. Eventually, the Qing banned all Christian missionaries from China. This negatively affected the Kaifeng Jews because they had used the missionaries as a way of keeping in contact with Jews in other countries.
During the Qing Dynasty, a disdain for all things foreign caused the Chinese to close their borders even more, further isolating Chinese Jews. To make matters worse, all other Jewish communities in China had already disintegrated by the early 1600’s. Due to China’s xenophobic policies, by the middle of the Qing Dynasty, the Kaifeng Jews were no longer in contact with any other Jewish communities. Their small number and lack of contact with all other Jews made the Jews of Kaifeng more susceptible to losing their identity than ever before.
There is almost no information available about the Kaifeng Jewish community between 1725 and 1850. We know that some time in the early 18th century, the Shi family repaired the synagogue. More notably, in 1810, it appears the last Rabbi in Kaifeng died and no one could be found to replace him. In 1849, a British Counsel visited Kaifeng and wrote that there were under 1,000 remaining Jews, and they looked just like the Han Chinese. He wrote than there was no longer any worship, as no Jews knew Hebrew, and the community was no longer sure which day was the Sabbath. Unable to produce any leadership, the Kaifeng Jewish community fell apart in the 19th century. The Yellow River floods of 1841, 1849, and 1860 destroyed the synagogue and further damaged the community. As they could no longer read Hebrew, poor Kaifeng Jews sold most of their holiest book to Christian missionaries for a few pieces of silver. Even the Torahs, which they had once been unwilling to even show to Christians, were sold beginning in 1851.
Few Jewish practices remained, but the community still maintained some sense of identity. Even in the 19th century, the Jews still had their own burial grounds, would not eat pork, blood, or any unkosher animals, and would only eat meat they slaughtered for themselves. The Jews became so desperate, they posted their holy Hebrew books in the city square and offered a reward to anyone who could translate them, but no one could. In 1900, Egyptian and Iraqi Jewish merchants who had settled in Shanghai tried to contact and revive Judaism in Kaifeng, but their effort was too little, too late. In 1914, the Jews finally sold the site of their synagogue to an Anglican Bishop, finally parting with the land they had worshipped upon for over 700 years.

Pien-Liang (Kiafeng) - The merchant economy of ancient China brought Jewish traders to the region as early as the eighth century. Jewish merchants travelling the Silk Route settled in the far western region of the country in the city of Pien-Liang (today’s Kiafeng), capital of the Honan province. Jews were officially allowed in Pien-Liang in 960 C.E. and built the Purity and Truth Synagogue, the first in the region, in 1163. The community thrived through eight centuries, reaching its height in the 17th century at 5,000 members. But following generations of war, poverty, and religious isolation, the Pien-Liang Jewish community significantly declined. The poverty-stricken community lost many Jewish traditions, including the knowledge of Hebrew, and by the mid-19th century, the community’s last rabbi had died, long after the position of rabbi had become hereditary. The synagogue, repeatedly destroyed by floods, was finally demolished in around 1860.
Today, the community has begun to repair itself and is trying to reconnect with the world Jewish community. In Keifeng, an estimated 500 to 1,000 residents have ties to Jewish ancestry, though only 40 to 50 individuals partake in Jewish activities. It is speculated that this lack of religious affiliation is due to the strict police surveillance of religion under the Chinese government, despite the emergence of Capitalism. Citizens affirm their Jewish identity discreetly to avoid incuring official displeasure. The community as a whole manages to maintain only a few traditions, such as refraining from eating pork and mixing milk and meat. As the Keifeng Jews try to reach out to the world Jewish community and return to their Jewish roots, they face a number of obstacles, including poverty and lack of knowledge about Judaism. By adopting the Chinese patrilineal tradition, the Kiefeng Jews are no longer considered Jewish according to Orthodox Judaism. Nevertheless, the community is determined to reeducate its members and convert to revive Judaism in China.
China’s growth as a leading economic power combined with the remodeling of Kaifeng into a tourist destination has led to a greater acceptance of Jewish expression in the city. Tours of the city’s historical sites are given, which give foreign Jews access to the remains of first synangogue and various synagogue relics, including a massive stone water jar and a large stone stele, both dating to 1489. These artifacts are located in the Kaifeng Municipal Museum, while other Jewish relics are housed in various museums worldwide, such as the British Musuem in London and the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. The stele, originally one of many that decorated the synagogue, is inscribed with the history of the local Jewish population and how Jewish families recieved Chinese patronymics. A Ming emperor gave the Jews the typical Chinese surnames Ai, Gao, Jin, Li, Zhang, Shi and Zhau because he found Hebrew names confusing.

Harbin - In the late nineteenth century, communities of Russian Jews settled in Harbin and Tientsin, especially at the urging of the Russian government, which aimed to construct a railway to eastern Asia and needed population centers there. The Russian government, eager to populate the cities, encouraged minorities such as Jews and Karaites to move to these cities. As the religious freedoms in Eastern Europe became more limited and as pogroms in the Pale of Settlement increased, many Jews joined these Southeast Asian communities, raising the Jewish population of Harbin to 8,000 by 1908.
Shanghai a port city in the Kiangsu province in Eastern China, opened to foreign trade in 1842. Subsequently, the city of Shanghai absorbed many of the Ashkenazi émigrés fleeing repression in Eastern Europe. Russian Jews fleeing persecution and massacres under the Tsar also emigrated and built the Ohel Moishe Synagogue in Shanghai in 1907. But the majority of the Shanghai Jewish population was Sephardim from Baghdad, Bombay, and Cairo, including the wealthy families Sassoon, Kadoorie, Hardoon, Ezra, Shamoon, and Baroukh. These families raised the Jewish population of Shanghai to approximately 700, including 400 Sephardim, 250 Europeans, and 50 Americans. Most of them were merchants, although some were in medicine, teaching, and diplomatic service.
Jews fleeing the Russian Revolution of 1917 further increased the Jewish population and raised awareness for the Zionist movement. Then in the 1930s and 40s, Jewish refugees from Germany and German-occupied areas fleeing the Nazi regime increased the Shanghai population to approximately 25,000. Lubavitch Hasidim, as well as remnants of the Mir and Slobodka Lithuanian yeshivot (Jewish religious schools), found refuge in Shanghai, which became a frequent destination because the free port did not require visas.
Between 1933 and 1941, Shanghai accepted approximately 18,000 Jewish refugees who fled from the horror of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe [Watch a video thanking Shanghai]. Of these Jewish refugees, 14,000 lived in the “Designated Area for Stateless Refugees,” located in Tilanquiao Square, along with other refugees from all over the world. The Tilanquiao historic area is still very much alive today.
Japan captured Shanghai in 1937 and closed it to further immigration in December 1941. They deported most of their Jews to the miserable Hongkew district of Shanghai and kept them in unsanitary semi-internment camps under Japanese occupation forces. The Shanghai Jews, including the transferred Japanese Jews, suffered great economic and property loss during the war, after which, most left to the United States, Britain, Israel, Australia, and other communities. Since 1948, 1,070 Jews from China have immigrated to Israel, with 504 leaving between 1948 and 1951.
Between 1904 and 1939, three synagogues were built in Shanghai, and 12 Jewish magazines in English, German, and Russian were established and published there. A Hebrew newspaper was also published as early as 1904. The leading magazine, Israel’s Messenger, was a Zionist monthly founded in 1904 by N. E. B. Ezra and published until his death in 1936.
The Ohel Moshe Synagogue was built by Russian Jews in the 1920's and has been integrated as a part of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. During World War II the synagogue served as a a meeting place for the Jewish community. Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the synagogue in 1994, and took time to thank the people of Shanghai for their humanitarian actions during the second World War. In 2007 the synagogue was remodelled based on the original 1928 design. That design is displayed on the first floor; the second floor includes videos and a database to search for Jewish refugees, and the third floor hosts an exhibit titled “German Nazi Death Camps - Auschwitz.”
The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum illuminates the area's Jewish past. The museum offers daily free tours every 45 minutes. The permanent exhibit at the Museum houses over 140 high-quality photographs and a multi-screen projection area showing a short film about the refugees who lived in the area. A new museum exhibit opened in August 2015, including historical materials and testimony from refugees who took shelter in Shanghai.
In 2015, a replica of the White Horse Inn, a popular gathering place for the Jewish community that was destroyed in 2009, reopened. Ron Klinger, 74, the grandson of the café’s co-founder, who grew up in the cafe, said: “The White Horse was like cafe, bar and nightclub. It was very popular, a place of refuge for Jews who had escaped the Nazis.” The cafe is located next to the museum.
Plans are also being made to open a memorial park that will serve to replace the four Jewish cemeteries in Shanghai that over the years were damaged or destroyed.
Beijing Today, there are about 2,000 Jews living in Beijing, a city of 17 million. A handful of Jewish communists came to this city decades ago but a growing number of secular and then Orthodox Jews have settled there recently, bringing along their families and their traditions. For the past 30 years, the world’s Jews have been coming to China to take part in the rapid transformation and surging economic development. A small group of North American Jews first came to Beijing in the late 1970s. A congregation was established, called Kehillat Beijing, as a part of the Reform movement. The first Passover Seder was held in 1980 and then High Holy Day services were held in a hotel conference room, starting Friday night Shabbat open houses soon after. Jews from Europe and the Soviet Union began arriving during the 1980s.
When China established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992, a joint Seder was held between Kehillat Beijing and the Israeli Embassy. The congregation began holding regular Friday night services in 1995, followed by the first brit milah in 1997, along with a Kehillat Beijing Sunday school. Today, the Ahavat Yitzhak school teaches 40 children. Although Kehillat Beijing does not have a permanent rabbi, the congregation now boasts approximately 50 families.
The Chabad House in Beijing is located at the end of a quiet street in an upscale gated community inside Fourth Ring road and down the block from the Israeli Embassy. Rabbi Shimon Freundlich serves as Beijing’s Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, arriving in Beijing in 2001. Chabad makes sure to work within the centralized Chinese system by allowing only holders of foreign passports to attend prayer services and cultural activities, and refrains from public advertising. The synagogue is technically in Rabbi Freundlich’s home, since free-standing religious buildings are forbidden.
In 2002, Rabbi Freundlich’s wife opened Ganeinu International School, an accredited Montessori school that educates about 50 children up to age 12 from a diverse range of Jewish backgrounds and various levels of observance. Chabad provides teachers for Kehillat Beijing’s Sunday school, which shares Ganeinu’s building, and the two communities come together for religious holidays.
The community has grown from 700 to 1,500 people in the last seven years. Chabad has established a downtown location in the city’s central business disctrict as well as a community center. A womens-only mikveh, Mei Torah, was established, and a ritual slaughterer flies in from South Africa every three months to meet the kosher dietary needs of the community. In March 2007, Beijing’s first (and only) kosher restaurant opened, called Dini’s, which was open 24 hours, six days a week during the 2008 Summer Olympics Games, providing kosher food for athletes in the Olympic village, as well as snack baskets for spectators.


Jewish Community Today - During the past decade, Jewish and Chinese students have met on academic exchange programs to Israel and elsewhere. A small Jewish Museum exists in Kaifang, though most remnants of the Jewish community lie in Shanghai. Israel and China established formal relations in 1992.
Today, China’s Jewish community numbers around 2,500, though nearly all live in Shanghai. Led by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shalom Greenberg, efforts are underway to revive the Jewish community.
In September 2013, Tel Aviv University President, Professor Joseph Klafter, and Professor Zhang Zhi, President of the Jiao-Tong University in Shanghai, China, signed an agreement for the establishment of a special research center for Israel Studies at the Chinese college. The research center, which will address contemporary issues in the Middle East and Israel, is the first of its kind in China. The agreement was signed in the presence of the Israeli Ambassador to China, Matan Vilnai, Israeli consular officials and representatives from the business community as well as the Jewish community.
In June 2014 China announced that the 105-year-old Harbin's Tongjiang Street synagogue would reopen after a year-long restoration project. The restoration was done in collaboration with Dan Ben-Canaan, an Israeli scholar who has lived in Harbin for more than a decade and works there as director of Heilongjiang University’s Sino-Israel Research and Study Center.

Switzerland Kosher Advice



Switzerland Switzerland, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Romania Kosher Advice



Romania Romania, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Poland Kosher Advice



Poland Poland, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Thailand Kosher Advice



Thailand Thailand, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler. Kosher food in Thailand is easier then you may think, since there is a huge amount of Israeli backpackers, there are 4 big Chabad houses the main in Bangkok is catered almost entirely for backpackers. other Chabad houses around Bangkok are mostly for local Israeli families who live around Bangkok. There Is Other Chabad houses in chiang mai, puket, koh samui

Other then the chabads and the resturant thet I mention above most products in Thailand has ther own packaging with meens even on products thet u used to see in the usa with a ou or some other kosher symbol over here you will not find it (u can try to call the ou and ask them about it but thay will most likely not answer on this) coke cola and sprite are used in all the chabads around Thailand. In almost all the big cities there will be a big supermarket with will have imported products, with a ou and other hechshyrim Other than thet there isn't much of kosher to find in small shops but you can always try to look sometimes I could find kosher Pringle or lays potato chips in some other spices
All around asia on the streets thay make fruit juice, or fruits wich thay cut for you on the spot to eat, ask your ruv about this before buying from them but here is a few things you have to look for, first of all you gat to make sure thay dont have graps on the manu wich will make all the keilim tareph becouse of yayin nasech, make sure that this seller only has fruit to sell if not he could be cuting other things thet are not kosher,
Ths same thing if you go to the market and buy fish bring your own knife and tell them to kut it.
Thats of course if you see them do it, but if it comes ready juice you really gat to ask your ruv if thay only sell this you can asume thay have extra keilim for this
Bangkok Chabad of Bangkok: (its in the kaho san area on rambutry st, right next to kaho san rd, all the taxi driver's will know where it is juts tell them kaho san rd, when you get there you will see a big sign for Chabad or ask one of the many Israeli backpackers.

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Bangkok Chabad of Bangkok: (its in the kaho san area on rambutry st, right next to kaho san rd, all the taxi driver's will know where it is juts tell them kaho san rd, when you get there you will see a big sign for Chabad or ask one of the many Israeli backpackers.
Other then the one chabad on kaho san road There is another chbad house thet can come in handy, the one in the sukumvit area wich is on soi 22 between the bts asok staition and the phrom pung station,
If you are looking for a more haimishe shabas with about 30 40 jewish familys the beit elisheva chabad house is more suitable for you, the chabad house by kaho san rd is really full with a few honderd backpers evrey shabas.
the chabad in sukumvit also hes the mikvah tahara,

Other then the chabad chabad house there a kosher resturant aaida cousin
(its important to note thet the last time i have been there i didnt see any mashgiach and thay also have meat from outside chabad, the roumers thet i heard back are also not so conforting, so before you decide to go eat there make sure with the chabad in bangkok if it is kosher)

(Somkid Place, Soi Somkid, Ploenchit Rd., Lumpini,, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand) in Bangkok in the chit lom area close to the siam shopping mall, To get there take the bts to chit lom ( take the exit to your right hend side when your facing the siam area) when you come out of the station walk a minute and take a left on to chit lom alley walk 5 minuts until right before the road goas over the small river, on your right hend side there is a street there you will see a sighn for aaida cousin, This resturant is a morrocen style resturant, this resturant is quite expensive comperd to chabad wich is really cheap. Shabas is also provided in this resturant for free, I am not sure about reservation
There is a number of Israeli tourist agencies and restaurants in the kaho san area, but unfortunately the only kosher food is in Chabad. Stopover in bkk airport:
Getting to kaho san road from the airport is quite far unlass you have some good luck with the trafic, the closest chabad house to the airport is beit elisheva, located on soi 22 in sukumvit area, wich you can easly get there with the airport rail link (or texi 500b),
with the airport rail link go down by the makasan station and take a texi or motorcycle (if you are with out luggege) to soi 22,
unfortunately this chabad dosent give food during the week, for travlers its primerly made for the locels on shabas, but there is a minyan evreyday, shacris mincha marive, so if your are going to have a long layover in bangkok, if its anything lass then 6 hours dont go to kaho san road, but with 6 hours you can easly get to and from beit elisheva, so be in tuch with rav kantur wich leavs neer beit elisheva, if he can have some food ready, aspaculy if you didnt have any kosher meals on the flight, a flight from the usa to this reaigon can mean a fast day.
if you do know your waya round bangkok, you can make it in lass then 6 hours, or even to kaho san road. if you dont know your way around, here is a heads up bangkok is huge and quite comlicated.
Stopover in dmk airport:
your bast option is to take a texi either to the sukumvit chabad or to kaho san road, but you will need a minimum of 5,6 hours layover to make it to either one of them.
How to get to kaho san road:
Most taxi rides between the major areas in Bangkok are based on meter reading, if it's not it's expected to be around 200 THB. From the airport you could either take a taxi approximately between 500B-700B to Kaho san rd.
Taxi's are waiting on the 1st floor at arrives, which is one floor underneath where you will be coming out from costumes, or by the and of the hall at your left hand side facing the doors there is a shared minivan to Kaho san for around 100B-150B, look for the sign Kaho san rd.
now there is a new bus rout to and from the airport to kaho san road,
runed by S1 bus compeny (60b), after costumes go down one flour go out from door number 7 and you will see them holding sighns for the bus.
But if you know your way around Bangkok you can take the airport rail link to the last stop and change over to the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), or arrive at the Asok station and take the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) and then connect to the BTS.
You will need to take the BTS till Saphan Taksin (by Siam station you will need to change BTS to Saphan Taksin just go out of the train and wait for the train at the opposite side). By Saphan Taksin take the boat to Kaho San which is pier number 13, the pier are not so clearly marked, specially if you are shy to ask around.

How to get to beit elisheva:
on soi 22 walk down about 10 minuts untill the street is starting to turn left, there is a street on your right hend side make a right after a minute of walk the first street to your left make a left there you will see it, bait alisheva.
Pattaya In pattaya (2 hour from bangkok with a bus) there is a kosher hotel CENTRA,
The hotel hes a kosher resyurant synagogue with shacris mincha mariv all days of the week, shabas saidas is for free no reservations needed, there is about 200 people avrey shabas by the saida, The meat is from chabad (although this may change)

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Pattaya In pattaya (2 hour from bangkok with a bus) there is a kosher hotel CENTRA,
The hotel hes a kosher resyurant synagogue with shacris mincha mariv all days of the week, shabas saidas is for free no reservations needed, there is about 200 people avrey shabas by the saida,
The meat is from chabad (although this may change)
Thay have a mashgiach tmidy living in the hotel,
The hotel resturant during the week is open from 11:00am to 10:00pm, the prices are good depending on what you order ask them for the thai food menu you will get more and its cheap
The hotel is located on soi 13 between second rd and soi buakhao,
its called by locels soi dayana ( locels call the street by names although it hes numbers since the numbers are changing depending between wich street for example soi 13 between soi buakhao and second rd is about a quarter mile away from soi 13 between sacond rd and walking st)
To get there fron the bus station arriving fron bangkok you can either take a motorcycle for 70b 80b or take one of the many pickup truckes waiting to get filled up 50b per person,
Jost remember tell them soi dayana not jost soi 13 yoh may end up in a totel different area, on soi dayana in the middle of the St more close to soi buakhao you will see a blue colored sighn centra on your left hend side coming from soi buakhao Make a left and wala your there
Koh Pha Ngan There is another kosher restaurant in the island koh pha ngan this island is loved by isrealy backepacers and its full of isrealis, The kosher resturant HABAIT is located in the had rin beach,

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There is a kosher restaurant in the island koh pha ngan this island is loved by isrealy backepacers and its full of isrealis, The kosher resturant HABAIT is located in the had rin beach, meat is from chabad, Mashgiach tmidy, Shabas saudas is for free no reservations needed, I havent been there for a long time so the info may not be up to date There is a synagogue over there to There is a lot other isreal resturants in koh pha ngan but unfortunately its not kosher How to get there from the boat arriving in koh pha ngan take a picup truck to the had rin beach, right when you arrive in the hadrin area you will see sighns for the habait hayisrealy, or ask one of the many isreal pepole you will see, by the time I was there thay were in the middle of fixing up a kosher hotel upstairs from the resturant.

Turkey Kosher Advice



Turkey Turkey, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

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Belarus Kosher Advice



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Greece Kosher Advice



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Russian Kosher Advice



Russian Federation Russian, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler. Mosscow

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Mosscow

Italy Kosher Advice



Italy Italy, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler. Rome Milan Sirmione

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Czech Republic Czech Republic, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler. Prague

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ALGERIA Kosher Advice



Algeria Algeria, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

ALBANIA Kosher Advice



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Hong Kong Kosher Advice



Hong Kong Hong kong, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Bahamas Kosher Advice



Bahamas Bahamas, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Costa Rica Kosher Advice



Costa Rica Costa Rica, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

France Kosher Advice



France France, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Germany Kosher Advice



Germany Germany, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Nicaragua Kosher Advice



Nicaragua Nicaragua, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler. There is not alot of kosher options in Nicaragua. Only the Chabad in San Juan del Sur. Thet Has a kosher restaurant and a hotel right next to it. Threre is also A falafel restaurant runned by Chabad. Other than the Chabad there isn't much kosher options in Nicaragua. You can find some importet products with a kosher symbol, especially in the big supermarkets, you can find Cearol, milk from costa rica (not chalav israel), pasta, pringles and other kind of cheaps, penuts, and some spices etc...
Cooking for yourself is always a challenge while traveling but in Nicaragua alot of the hotels and specialy dormitory hostels will have a kitchen (cusin) that you can use for yourself to cook, (of course you need to have your own keilim, and be extra carful to keep an eye on your food while cooking, some other people may use your keilim to make there food like your knife etc... ) Cooking is a big part of the Spanish culture so its very normal you should ask the hostel or hotel if that have a kitchen for you to Cook almost all Spanish travelers will like to Cook there own food even while traveling.
For shabas if you find yourself not in the area of the chabad, there is alot of quiet villages ne'er the beach, there you can make your own shabas and enjoy the peace, fish markets are not so papuler as fruite and vegetables markets but avrey city has one just ask around by the locals and you'll find it.
Getting Around Nicaragua:
The bus stop in san Juan del sur is in front of the central market and will get you to many local destinations. Public buses or “chicken buses” are the most economical and local way to travel. They can also be the slowest way to get around as they can also be rather crowded. The most efficient and cost effective way to get around is using the express buses that have air conditioning and make fewer stops along the routes.
San Juan del Sur How to get to San Juan del sur. Coming from Costa Rica after crosing the border, there will be busses to anywhere you want,
look around for the bus to rivas (there maybe busses direct to San juan del sur, ask around) take the bus to Rivas and tell the driver (or you can ask any of the locals where you need to get of) that you are going to San Juan del sur, he will drop you at the junction to San Juan del sur about 20 minutes by bus,
cross the street and make a laft (its the only street you can turn so don't worry you cant get lost) go to the bus stop about 300m and wait for the bus, the bus thet will come wil get you to San Juan del sur, (This road runes into San Juan del sur there no other roads )
Right after you come in San Juan look at your right side and you will see the Chabad house, you cant miss it its on the main road, you can tell the guy or the driver that you need Chabad he will drop you of there everyone knows it.
The same diraction can be done the opisite way coming from north to south (wich is the more popular way to travel central America , take a bus heading to the direction of the Costa Rica border, go down by the junction of San Juan del sur and follow the above direction....
Nicaragua has a tiny Jewish community, most having left Managua after an earthquake in 1972. Seven years later, the Sandinistas seized the country’s only synagogue and the remaining Jewish population went into exile, mainly to the US and Israel. A small number have returned and there is a tiny synagogue which recently received a new Torah scroll.

Morocco Kosher Advice



Morocco Morocco, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

Vietnam Kosher Advice



Vietnam Vietnam, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

South Africa Kosher Advice



South Africa South Africa, tarvel advice for the kosher traveler.

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