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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.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.During the time of the Silk Road, many Jews become involved in international trade.

Many Jews also came to China seeking refuge from Nazi Europe.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.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.

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.

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