web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Orient Impressions: China


Susan-081012-Pagoda

China assaults the senses with a cacophony of sounds and colorful sights amid its teeming masses. As we arrived for a month’s trip in October the noxious smog of vehicle-packed Beijing assailed our nostrils. But the past still dwells in the shadows of the modernized capital. At dusk a row of elderly stooped men shuffled along the road beneath our apartment in Mao-style uniforms. We would see the same gray men plodding by in the morning.

The contrast between affluence and poverty was very striking. The opulent Prince Gong Mansion adjoins the Hutong area of Beijing, where life is still primitive without indoor plumbing. Our guide, David, grew up here in a one-room hut, but his family was later relocated. As for changing times, the steep demands of a future wife would likely comprise an apartment, a vehicle and expensive jewelry, he told us.

At an upscale mall with fountains, we shunned the crowd thronging the iPhone store to buy salad vegetables in a small supermarket. One department store had rows of stylish vaporizers steaming away — a necessary device considering the air quality. When I absentmindedly dropped my shawl on the mall plaza a policewoman was beside me in a flash to return it. Big Sister was watching over us. We had similar eureka moments elsewhere in China. When we bargained with a self-styled porter at a railway station, a security man appeared out of nowhere and violently shoved the coarse-faced fellow outdoors. The TV and Internet censors were brutally efficient as well. As a CNN news bulletin mentioned the imprisonment of a Nobel prizewinner in China, the screen promptly blacked out. Similarly, a nature program about crocodiles disappeared forever after mildly disparaging Chinese conservation efforts and the local yen for crocodile skin. The Chinese we met seemed stoic about their restricted freedom. “We can do as we like,” one told me, “as long as we don’t speak about it in public.”

Shopping is a strenuous activity. In an indoor Beijing market two diminutive teenage girls attached themselves like limpets to my husband, pulling him along, “Hey Mister, Mister. Come over here. You gotta see this.” Bargaining, which is done on small calculators, requires stamina and endurance.

Tantalizing glimpses of traditional China sometimes filter through. In a Beijing park we listened, spellbound, as a dignified trio of seniors gathered under the trees to sing haunting melodies, accompanied by the time-honored two-stringed erhu. During a daytrip to Souzhou near Shanghai we visited classic landscaped Chinese gardens with aristocratically furnished pavilions and toured a factory with an exhibit of manual silk production.

The magnificent art treasures of northern China fascinated us so much that we spent eight hours inside the vast Forbidden City of Beijing. Its architectural features include raised entries to ward off the evil eye, the emperor dragon symbol and the phoenix for the empress. Calligraphy exhibits were on handmade paper or silk, sometimes with minute lettering. One humorous painting showed a group of jolly fishermen at work. Some of the intricate craftsmanship was inspired by plum blossom, orchids, fruit and vegetables. We admired porcelain vessels, gold artifacts, lacquered wood and jewelry.

Alone that day, we developed a technique to navigate the throng heading to the subway. It helped to follow closely on the heels of the most aggressive pushers as they elbowed their way through. The next day we headed north for a day of intensive touring to the Great Wall, the Summer Palace and the Ming Tombs. Outside the town were piles of dried maize for the animals, roadside fruit stands and tall chestnut trees. One restaurant was packed as it offered a special delicacy — donkey meat, David said. After a short cable car ascent we hiked energetically around the Great Wall, clambering up and down its uneven stone steps and towers, then careening down to the bottom on an alpine slide.

At the Summer Palace of the emperors we admired the marble boat once revamped by Dowager Empress Cixi from naval funds. Cixi’s life story features her remarkable transformation from a minor concubine of Emperor Xianfeng to the de facto ruler of China for half a century. What triggered her sudden ascent was presenting the emperor with his only son in 1856. Despite her utter ruthlessness and talent for political intrigue, Cixi’s shortcomings as national ruler ultimately led to China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), to the decline of the Qing dynasty and the 1911 revolution.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Orient Impressions: China”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Border Police keep an eye out for Palestinian Authority terrorists.
IDF on Manhunt for Arab Terrorists Trying to Gun Down Jewish Drivers
Latest Sections Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Schonfeld-logo1

This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.

Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.

The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

More Articles from Susan de la Fuente
Susan-081012-Pagoda

China assaults the senses with a cacophony of sounds and colorful sights amid its teeming masses. As we arrived for a month’s trip in October the noxious smog of vehicle-packed Beijing assailed our nostrils. But the past still dwells in the shadows of the modernized capital. At dusk a row of elderly stooped men shuffled along the road beneath our apartment in Mao-style uniforms. We would see the same gray men plodding by in the morning.

1945: Rivkah Bloch in Europe after the war

Rivkah Bloch grew up in Telz (Telsiai), a historic township and renowned Torah center in north-west Lithuania. In 1939 the Jews of Telz numbered about 2,800, some 28 percent of the population. Rivkah’s paternal grandfather Reb Yosef Leib Bloch, (1849-1930) zt”l, also known as Maharil Bloch, was a distinguished personality and a prominent scholar and educator. Besides his position as town rabbi, he headed the great Yeshivah of Telz that his father-in-law Rav Eliezer Gordon, zt”l had founded. Its student body numbered around 400 students in 1900.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/orient-impressions-china/2012/08/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: