# 15497

SMITH, George (Bishop of Victoria), 1815-1871

The Jews at K’ae-Fung-Foo :

$16,500.00 AUD

being a narrative of a mission of inquiry, to the Jewish synagogue at K’ae-Fung-Foo, on behalf of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews : with an introduction, by the Right Revd. George Smith, D.D. Lord Bishop of Victoria. Shanghae : printed at the London Missionary Society’s Press, 1851. Octavo, modern half-calf over marbled boards, gilt-lettered to spine, preserving the original printed yellow wrappers (rubbed and stained), wet stamp of the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews inside upper wrapper, pp xii; 82; [1- postscript from Hong Kong documenting the purchase of Hebrew manuscripts], folding woodcut map, text in English and Chinese.

Rare. The last copy recorded at auction was the Robinson copy (Sotheby’s, London, 1988) whose description is quoted below:

‘The introduction by Bishop Smith of Victoria (Hong Kong) sketches the Western knowledge of the Chinese Jews, whose presence was first noted by Matteo Ricci. In 1850 two Chinese Christians travelled to Kaifeng Fu following an appeal to the British Consul at Amoy and found the small Jewish community in very impoverished circumstances. There had been no Rabbi for fifty years, and the understanding of Hebrew had been lost: “During the past 40 or 50 years our religion has been but imperfectly transmitted, and although its religious writings still exists, there is none who understands as much as one word of them … It has been our desire to repair the synagogue, and again to procure ministers to serve in it; but poverty prevented us”.

On a second voyage (the subject of the printed slip referred to above) the Hebrew manuscripts in the synagogue were purchased and brought to W.H. Medhurst in Shanghai. The synagogue is stated to date from the end of the twelfth century (it was built in 1163) and it is now thought that this community originated from Persia in the tenth century. The printed slip states that a portion of the manuscripts were to be sent to the Society in London. Several of the manuscripts were given to the Canton office of Sassoon & Co. which had rendered important services to the mission, and these remain in the celebrated Sassoon Collection to this day. Two other manuscripts are now in the Hebrew Union College in Cinncinati. For further information see J. Preuss, The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng-Fu, Tel Aviv, 1961′.