Traveling with my husband on a plane from New York to Los Angeles on a Summer Sunday morning twenty- two years ago, we read a New York Times article by chance that would change our lives. The article shared a story about an Observant Jewish family that adopted a daughter from China. We read the article and literally on that flight knew how our family would come to life.
After three adoptions, a dear friend told me that the souls of my children were with me at Mt. Sinai and we just needed to take this route to come together as a family. I initially told this story to my children as a comforting story & perhaps not believing the reality of it. As time has passed though, I have come to believe this with all my heart as the message that shaped our legacy. While my children are not “of me” they are truly “of me” in every way possible. It just took a different route to bring us together.
Adopting from China has had its challenges with the Jewish Community as we have evolved as a family. Initially, an orthodox synagogue & others didn’t want to assist us as we weren’t religious enough. As we became more observant, we were isolated from reform congregations who thought we were too religious. Wounding comments followed over the years, but through love and commitment, we raised three amazing “Zionistas” and focused our efforts on a creating Jewish home and making sure Jewish homeland was always a paramount in our family. We have made a strong commitment to Israel & the Jewish community at home and have been blessed with support by so many.
As we approach the new year, I hope that we work harder to ensure the doors of Judaism welcome everyone, especially Jews who have chosen to convert. Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, we are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel (Ruth 4:11).”
For the year ahead, my heart is also with the remaining Jewish community in China. The Jewish Community in China flourished for over a millennium before assimilation & intermarriage brought its collective demise in the 19th Century. The Jews of China emerged as a community from travels along the Silk Road after the destruction of the Temple. There is a small community remaining looking to make Aliyah and we hope the opportunity for them to come to Israel and finalize their conversions in Israel.
Thank you Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Israel (shavei.org), whose dedication for bringing home Jews from China and lost Tribes from across the globe is so inspirational. His commitment to ensure Israel is a homeland to all Jews is overwhelming. This year I dedicate to support the work of Shavei Israel in bringing those Chinese Jews home to Israel.
I am overwhelmed by my love for my Dani, Sydney & Mia for the gifts they are to me, and the world. With the new year upon us, we can all work to make difference in the world with love & compassion. Shana Tova Umetukah.