The First Ever Purim Party in Shenzhen!!!

Do you know who was the first Rabbi to come and live in Shenzhen?   The answer is Rabbi Shalom Chazan.  He came to Shenzhen about five years ago. Before that, there was no Jewish Community Center in Shenzhen. There were only a few Jews living in Shenzhen – a few Israeli families and a few of my dad’s American Jewish friends.  When Rabbi Shalom came to Shenzhen, I was only seven years old. My dad helped him to get kosher food (specially processed food, no pork or shellfish) from Shanghai. At the beginning, the Rabbi had a small kosher restaurant in Luohu, Shenzhen.  The Jewish families would sometimes go there on Friday evening for Sabbath dinner and prayed on Saturdays. The Rabbi’s wife was very kind; she always organized special activities for the children on Jewish holidays.

Not long after the Rabbi arrived in Shenzhen, he needed a place to hold the first Purim Party in Shenzhen. My dad quickly and happily volunteered to let him hold the party at our house in Jinshan Villas. Purim is the Jewish holiday to celebrate when the Jews were saved by Queen Esther. The king’s evil advisor, Haman plotted against the Jews, but Queen Esther told the king that she was Jewish and that her life and the lives of her people should be saved. Haman was killed instead of the Jews.

On the Day of the Party, I happily put on my new custom-made Queen Esther outfit, a violet purple dress with a yellow belt and shiny yellow-gold collar. I wore my favorite sparkly slippers. Then, the rabbi and his wife arrived. My family excitedly set up everything for the party; long dining tables, cups, plates, drinks, and other goodies, the Rabbi and his wife brought the yummy kosher food!!!  Then, guests began to arrive soon after; we happily welcomed all Jews who wanted to come. It was a joyous party, many people dressed up for the event, as almost everyone wore a costume.  The sweet scent of hamentashen drifted through the air. The hamentashen cookies symbolize Haman’s ears. They are triangular shaped cookies with something sweet in the middle like: chocolate, fruit jam, or dates. My dad was playing the piano, we sang songs especially for Purim, happy tunes filled the whole house and some of the gusts started to clap hands and danced to the beautiful songs and music. Children were going crazy, running, dancing and having a great time. Adults chattered away for hours. Everyone feasted and enjoyed hamentashen and other scrumptious food that the Rabbi’s wife, Henni had prepared. Over sixty people came to our party!!!  They were from all over the world. Australians, Americans, Israelis, Moroccans, French, British, Russians, Czechs…  It was the first ever Purim Party in Shenzhen!!! The biggest ever gathering of Jews in Shenzhen!!!  It was a great success!!! Our party had brought together the Ashkenazi (European origin) and Safardic (Middle Eastern origin) Jews.

After the gastronomic feast, the Rabbi started to read the Magila (the story of Purim written on a satin scroll). Everyone who wanted to join and listen came upstairs from the dining room and into the living room, where the Rabbi read. Everyone made noise with their toys or stamped their feet when the rabbi read the name “Haman” – the bad guy.  Kids loved this section because we were never allowed to make that kind of noise in the house but in a Purim party!!!

The next day, the news of our wonderful party showed up in the local newspaper, Shenzhen Daily. A Picture of my Dad and the Rabbi above an article describing the first-ever Purim party in Shenzhen, with over sixty Jews from all over the world attending the party at Mr. Robert Fisch’s home.

It was a wonderful event; a wonderful memory of my childhood in Shenzhen.

Submitted By : Alitza Rose Fisch

1 Comment for “The First Ever Purim Party in Shenzhen!!!”

  1. Well written! An interesting look into your traditions and culture.

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