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CHAO , the most important family of the former Jewish community of *Kaifeng in China. Among the earliest members mentioned is Chao Liang-ching, great-grandfather of Chao Ying-ch'eng (see below), who is listed in the Kaifeng memorial book as "Son of Adam," normally implying non-Jewish origin; this however is hard to believe. The family included several successful military officers. The following were outstanding:

chao ch'eng formerly An San (Hassan?) who lived in the 15th century. A common soldier, he was granted the Chinese surname Chao and a high military rank and post in Chekiang around 1421–23. According to the Chinese historical sources this recognition from the Ming emperor was obtained by informing against the prince Ting of Chou, then resident in Kaifeng. The Jewish inscriptions gloss over this and call him a physician. He was also allowed to rebuild the Kaifeng synagogue, and it seems likely that the later success of the community, and of the Chao family in particular, was the result of his promotion.

chao kuang-yü (d. 1653?) was granted (in 1646?) the honorary rank and title of Ying-ch'eng (and later of Ying-tou). He figures as Abram in the Kaifeng Memorial Book and Judeo-Persian colophons. He made a donation to the synagogue in 1619 or 1620.

chao ch'eng-chi, captain-adjutant in Kaifeng some time after 1642, was promoted to major in Kuyüan in Shensi, 1657–61. He helped to preserve the community after floods had destroyed the synagogue in 1642. In 1663, he was back in Kaifeng and instrumental in the erection of the inscription installed in the rebuilt synagogue.

chao ying-ch'eng (d. 1657), son of Kuang-yu, the most successful member of the family. He received the chin-shih degree in 1646, at the age of 28, and reached the rank of intendant, serving in Fukien, 1650–53, and in Hukwang, 1656–57, dying in office. Several biographies and two essays written by him are mentioned in Chinese local gazetteers, describing his activities in Fukien. He suppressed the bandits and built a Confucian school. The books he wrote are not extant. In the Memorial Book, he appears as "Moses, chin-shih." It is generally thought that he knew Hebrew, and was mainly responsible for rebuilding the Kaifeng synagogue in 1653. While

regarded as a Confucian mandarin when in Fukien, it is believed that Ying-ch'eng had remained a religious Jew when in Honan, his home province.

chao ying-tou, younger brother of Ying-ch'eng, received a degree in 1653, and served in Yunnan from 1663 to about 1669 as district magistrate. Active in the community from 1642 to 1653, he returned to Kaifeng in 1670, and was instrumental in erecting the 1679 synagogue inscription. In the Memorial Book, he appears as the husband of two women of non-Jewish origin.

chao ying-kun is mentioned in 1653, and again in 1679, as responsible for the synagogue inscription of that year. He also figures in the Chinese local gazetteers as a degree holder of c. 1695, and as one of the junior editors of the Kaifeng prefectural gazetteer of 1695.


W.C. White, Chinese Jews (19662), indexes; Fang, in: jaos, 85 (1965), 126–9; Leslie, in: Abr-Nahrain, 4 (1965), 19–49; 5 (1966), 1–28; 6 (1967), 1–52; 8 (1969).

[Donald Daniel Leslie]

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