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During the time of the Silk Road, many Jews become involved in international trade.
In many ways, they were uniquely qualified for the profession.
After the attack on Kaifeng, the city was taken by the Jurchens and became part of the Jin Dynasty, when it lost the prestige of being a capital.
Much of the city was destroyed, and it took several decades for the city to be rebuilt.
This disaster leads many historians to speculate that the Jews moved to Kaifeng at least 40 years before the chaos of 1127 theorizing that the Jews would have all left the city had they not spent several good decades there.
Likewise, since Kaifeng must have been a large, attractive city before the Jewish community decided to migrate there, historians think that the large Jewish community migrated there sometime in the 11th century.
Most evidence supports the theory that a significant number of Jews, hundreds or perhaps thousands, migrated from Persia to Kaifeng some time during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).
Perhaps no two cultural groups revere scholarship more than the Jews and the Chinese, and this common bond perhaps made the Jews feel at home.
Persian Shiites and Arab Sunni Muslims would sometimes be at war with each other, or with Hindu Indians or with Christian Europeans, yet the Jewish community stayed united and continued trading between countries.
As there were a disproportionately high number of Jews in the trading profession, it should not be surprising that some of these Jews became involved in trade with China.
It is also possible that these Jews had been drawn to Kaifeng by tales of the city’s beauty and comfort, yet one can only speculate why such a large group of Jews would leave Persia, a nation where they had lived since the Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE, to venture to the distant and unknown city of Kaifeng, China.
While a cloud of mystery remains around the Jews’ long trek and early years in China, the history of the city they traveled to, Kaifeng, is well known.
Before the perfection of maritime navigational techniques, it was the primary route of trade between China and its eastern neighbors.