21 Feb Campaign Kaifeng: Meet Li Chengjin
The aliyah from China continues. In our continuing series of profiles of the five young women from the Chinese Jewish community in Kaifeng who will be immigrating to Israel in the coming months, please meet Li Chengjin.
Li Chenglin sees aliyah to Israel as an opportunity on many levels. It’s an opportunity to deepen her faith, to strengthen her ability to keep more mitzvot (the Jewish commandments), and even a chance to change careers. “I work as a nurse, but I don’t enjoy it so much. I’d like to do something different,” she says.
When the 28-year-old Li arrives in Israel from China in just a few months’ time, everything will be very different, that’s for sure – from the food to the language to her daily routine, which will initially revolve around Hebrew language ulpan and Torah studies in preparation for Li’s formal return to Judaism.
Li is ready. “I’ve been studying now for many years, but I know I still have much more to learn and do,” she says. Through faith, study and action, Li adds she is sure that “everything will get better and better – for myself, for our community in Kaifeng and for all the Jews in the world.”
In many ways, Li is just a normal young adult who says she enjoys “cooking, reading, traveling, listening to music and spending time with my good friends.” But her life also has some significant differences from those around her in Kaifeng. For one, Li is a regular at Shavei Israel-sponsored activities for the Jewish community of Kaifeng. Like Gao Yichen, whom we profiled earlier, Li’s father is one of the community’s leaders.
Li grew up knowing she was Jewish – “my father told me ten years ago…I was surprised at first, and then very happy” – and today, she says, “I observe the Sabbath and celebrate all the holidays – Rosh Hashana, Passover, Hanukkah and Sukkot – according to the precepts. The more I learn, the more I keep.” She, of course, keeps kosher, which she says her friends “all respect.”
But to truly return to Judaism, she knows “I have to be in Israel. I’m ready to go!” In preparation for her aliyah, Li left her job a few months ago in order to study Hebrew full-time. She is working with an online tutor provided by Shavei Israel and with Shavei Israel’s new emissary to the Kaifeng community Tuvia Gering.
Li knows it won’t be easy. “There were very few people in Kaifeng that I could study with on a deep level,” she says. But when asked what she is most proud of in her life, there is no question. “That I am a Jew.”
And soon, Li will also be a proud Israeli.
Can you help Li make aliyah and integrate into her new life in Israel? We have established a new program – “Campaign Kaifeng” – to raise money to help bring Li to Israel and ease her transition into Israeli society. Please visit our donation page today. To read more about Campaign Kaifeng, visit this page. And watch this site for more profiles in the coming weeks.
We asked Li one more question: what was the happiest moment in your life? She responded without hesitation: “When I learned that Shavei Israel would be able to help me make aliyah. This is the biggest turning point in my life.”
The aliyah from China is now in your hands. Please give generously.