[] Print: Sinagoga degli Ebrei cinesi (Synagogue of the Chinese Jews), 1827

Rectangular sheet engraving; interior with figures standing and seated in lower part of the composition; high square columns in two rows support ceiling; three round chandeliers hang from ceiling.


Interior of the 'Synagogue of the Chinese Jews,' from vol. 4 (1827) of Scelta di lettere edificanti, scritte dalle missioni straniere. Preceduta da quadri geografici storici, politici, religiosi e letterari de' paesi de missione, accresciuta di un ragguaglio storico sulle missioni straniere di nuove lettere edificanti ed altri scelti pezzi (Milan, R. Fanfani, 1825-1829), an Italian edition of Lettres edifiantes et curieuses ecrites des missions etrangeres par quelques missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jesus (Paris, N. le Clerc, 1703-1776).


The print illustrates a letter from Father Giampaolo Gozani, SJ (Casale Monferrato, Italy 1659 - Macau 1732) to Father José Suarez (Soares), SJ (Santa Comba Dão, Portugal 1656 - Beijin 1736; Vice-provincial of the Jesuit mission to China), written on November 5, 1704 from Kaifeng, the capital of Hunan, in which he described the local synagogue, its architecture, books, rituals, and the customs of the small community it served.


Volume 4 of Scelta di lettere edificanti is available online at the Internet Archive.


See also:


Rudolf Lowenthal, "The early Jews in China: a supplementary bibliography," Folklore Studies 5/1946: 353-398.


Goldstein, Jonathan, ed. The Jews of China, edited with an introduction by Jonathan Goldstein ; concluding essay by Benjamin J. Schwartz. 2 vols. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1999: 60-61.


Data on the Jesuit priests is included in the "Ostasiatisches Seminar - China and the West” research resources published by the University of Zurich (UZH), 27 Nov. 2011 at China and the West Index of Names



Magnes Database Record



Joann Pittman faved this
  • Francesco Spagnolo 3y

    Goldstein, Jonathan, ed. The Jews of China, edited with an introduction by Jonathan Goldstein ; concluding essay by Benjamin J. Schwartz. 2 vols. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1999: 60-61

    [p. 60] Included in the correspondence published in the Lettres edifiantes was a letter dated November 5, 1704,that was sent from Kaifeng to Father Joseph Suarez by the Jesuit priest Jean-Paul Gozani. In this letter, Gozani reported that he and the rabbi of Kaifeng had actually compared a series of Hebrew scriptural passages, beginning with Genesis 1:1, as they occurred in a text belonging to the city's synagogue and in a European biblical text that Gozani owned. Although Gozani knew no Hebrew, the two men, speaking Chinese, succeeded in checking out "the descendants of Adam down to Noah, with the age [at death] of each," a procedure suggested by Leibnitz in his 1700 letter to Verjus. They then compared "in a summary manner the names and main points of chronology" of each of the books of the Pentateuch. In the end, Gozani wrote, they discovered that "all was in agreement." Notwithstanding this, Gozani remained "suspicious that they have among them Talmudic Jews and have corrupted the Bible." His reasoning? Rodrigo de Figueiredo and Christiano Enriquez, two Jesuit priests who were stationed in Kaifeng before Gozani's first assignment there and were known to have visited the synagogue on a number of occasions, had made no effort to secure a copy of a congregational Pentateuch. To Gozani, this indicated that the two men had seen no point in waisting their time on a text that had already been "corrupted by the Talmudists" and was no longer "pur, as it had been before the coming of the Savior."
    Nevertheless, Gozani urged caution. "As to whether their Bible is true or corrupted, complete or partial," he wrote apologetically, "I, who am ignorant in these matters, would not be able to say: I will do and am doing my best, but I am doubtful of success." Nonetheless, continuing his efforts to procure one of the synagogal Torahs, he suggested in a letter written in [p. 61] Beijing on August 25, 1712, that "some part of the Bible, especially a Hebrew version of the Pentateuch, might be obtained from the discreetly, and with not a little amount of money."
  • Francesco Spagnolo 3y

    Lodge, Paul. “Leibniz’s Exchange with the Jesuits in China.” in Leibniz and his Correspondents. Cambridge University Press, 2004: 141-161

    On December 2, 1697, Leibniz wrote to the Jesuit missionary Antoine Verjus that he would like more information regarding China,

    Where I take such a part, because I judge that this mission is the greatest affair of our time, as much for the glory of God and the propagation of the Christian religion as for the general good of men and the growth of the arts and sciences, among us as well as among the Chinese. For this is a commerce of light, which could give to us at once their work of thousands of years and render ours to them, and double so to speak our true wealth for one and the other. This is something greater than one imagines.
    (Wid 55)

    This “commerce of light” is a guiding principle throughout Leibniz's relationship with China, from his earliest encounter with the Jesuit mission, through the publication of the Novissima Sinica, to the founding of the Berlin Society of Sciences. Leibniz pursues this broader goal through a series of particular exchanges and negotiations, the most significant of which is between Leibniz and the Jesuits involved with the mission in China. “Commerce of light” is not a careless phrase but one directed specifically against the two forces then driving globalization and European expansion. The most powerful force was the valuable commerce of goods already connecting Europe with Asia, Africa, and the Americas. From an early age, Leibniz was well aware of the economic forces behind European expansion.
  • Francesco Spagnolo 3y

    On January 1st, 1700, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) wrote to Father Antoine Verjus, SJ (22 January 1632-16 May 1706) the fourth of a total of five letters asking the following:

    I believe I have already asked Father Gobien if, when he requests information from China, he could find out if the Old Testament of the Chinese Jews could be examined, in order to compare it with the Hebrew text [circulating] in Europe. Since by following Father Semedo, Relation de la Chine (Part 1, chapter 30) as well as what Bernier said about the letters of a Father of your Company (Voyage de Cachemire, p. 140 in The Hague edition, 1672), one could find in it some light, because it appears that the Chinese Jews have been for a long time without any contact with the Jews of Europe, and therefore one could perhaps find among them books and passages that the Jews of Europe may have changed or erased in their hatred of Christians. It would be important to have someone copy at least the beginning of Genesis, to verify that the genealogy of the patriarchs follows that of the Septuagint, or at least with the Samaritan text. Thus, I hope that Father Bouvet will keep his word, and that I will be appraised of what will arrive from that country, thanks to your kindness, to which I will always be much obliged [...].


    Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, Cinq Lettres au Père Verjus [1697-1705]

    Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Leibniz Korrespondiert Mit China: Der Briefwechsel Mit Den Jesuitenmissionaren (1689-1714). Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1990. Veröffentlichungen des Leibniz-Archivs 11
1 fave
Taken sometime in 1827
  • 18.0-70.0 mm f/3.5-4.5
  • ƒ/4.5
  • 62.0 mm
  • 1/50
  • 200
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
  • Show EXIF
This photo is in 2 albums

Additional info

  • Viewing this photo Public
  • Safety level of this photo Safe
  • S Search
    Photo navigation
    < > Thumbnail navigation
    Z Zoom
    B Back to context