Oddly enough, our random internet search process seems to turn up a lot of stuff about China — and in this case, an article about freedom of religion, publications about religion, and book culture in China from none other than — who else — The Turkish Weekly. This article is, for people who don’t know much about the subject, quite informative. The writer visits some general bookstores (such as the Shu Cheng in Shanghai) as well as state-sanctioned religious book shops, where you can get Bibles, Korans, and more devotional type books.
On a different but related matter: Judaism is not one of the five recognized religions in China, yet recently at an outdoor book sale we saw some books on the wisdom of Judaism or Jews (depending on how you want to put it — there is no doubt plenty of wisdom in Judaism that is not found in the Jews as living people, and vice versa）．Now we can’t say that we’ve read many Chinese books about Jews or Judaism, but the book that we saw earlier this week, like many others we’ve seen in the past, are about how good Jews are at doing business and making money. Take for example, this book which features a Kenny G-esque figure on the cover in traditional garb and whose chapters read something like this: Jews — the first merchant peoples in the world; The Mysterious Jews; The Wise Jews, The race most adept at making money; The capitalist world’s first billionaire — Rockefeller; Money — the secular god of the Jews; Money is the source of life; The Jews’ concept of money/wealth, In praise of cash; you get the point. Now, we don’t want you to get the wrong impression — there are books about the history of Jews/Judaism, Jews in China (Kaifeng, Shanghai, etc.), but over the years we have seen these variations on a theme of Shylock. Shanghaiist can safely say, at least for the Americans in the crowd, that books like that wouldn’t quite fly in the US. If you search for “Jewish” in the movie section of Joyo you come up with movies like Ben-Hur, The Pianist, Schindler’s List, and All is Illuminated. None or not many of the major documentaries that have been made about the Jewish experience of late (including a string of Oscar winners) are included in the first few pages of search results.
Photo from Joyo.com