The tiny community has existed under the radar for a thousand years – until now
In mid-April, Israeli China scholar Noam Urbach received a worrying email. “I am Guo Yan, a descendant of the Jews of Kaifeng,” the letter began. “Seven days ago, on April 7, 2023, in the evening, I was abducted by a number of men as I was walking in the street.
“After five days, I was driven back to Kaifeng and taken to an empty room, where I was interrogated by four men. One of them was wearing a police uniform and claimed he was a police officer. They recorded the entire conversation. At no stage did they state the reason for abducting me or claim that I had violated any law or regulation. I was released after the interrogation.”
Why was Guo disappeared for five days? Why did a large number of government agents wander about the vicinity of the building where she lives while she was gone? The abductors didn’t explain, but Guo, who also uses the Hebrew name Esther, has a theory.
On the days she was absent, the Polish ambassador to China visited Kaifeng. Guo is certain that the two events are connected: that the authorities removed her from the city as a preventive measure, so that she would not be there should the ambassador request to meet her or other descendants of the Jews of Kaifeng.
“I was held as a captive not because of something I did,” she wrote, “but because someone wanted to meet with me.”