New Jewish community center opens in Taipei

A multi-purpose Jewish community center opened Wednesday in Taipei with the aim of serving as a "new hub" for Jewish culture in Taiwan while fostering exchanges between Taiwan nationals and Jews, according to the Jewish Taiwan Cultural Association (JTCA).

"We wanted to share Jewish culture, traditions, education and religion" in Taiwan and "offer a space to call home for Jewish people in Taiwan," Taipei-based businessman Jeffrey D. Schwartz said of his motives for founding the JTCA and building a community center dedicated to Jewish people and culture during the inaugural ceremony.

"This goes beyond cultivating Jewish culture in Taiwan," said Schwartz, who began working on the initiative to build the center in 2018 with his Taiwanese singer wife Na Tang (??). "Our goal was to integrate the strengths of Taiwanese people and the fortes of Jewish people."

"We also want all Jewish people around the world to see the value and beauty of our Isle Formosa and to facilitate opportunities for global exchanges for Taiwan."

The 22,500-square-foot (2,090 square meters) Jeffrey D. Schwartz Jewish Community Center, named after the founder and CEO of Four Star Group, Inc., houses a synagogue, a mikveh (ritual bath), an authentic kosher restaurant, banquet rooms, a kindergarten and a museum of Jewish art and antiquities, according to the JTCA website.

"The community center is located at the center of Taipei City, providing citizens with an opportunity to access and understand the Jewish culture with ease," Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???) remarked at the ceremony.

Vice President Lai Ching-te (???) echoed Ko's views, saying the center would help "build a bridge for communication and interaction between Taiwanese and Jewish culture."

It will also promote friendship between the people of Taiwan and the Jewish community, Lai said, adding that both Taiwanese and Jews cherish the values of human rights and freedom.

Meanwhile, Israeli Representative to Taiwan Omer Caspi said the community center is "a significant and exciting milestone in the development of Jewish life in Taiwan."

It symbolizes the prosperity and growth of the Jewish community that have existed on the island for decades, said Caspi, who heads the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei.

The office represents Israel's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

While Jews across the world have been persecuted for centuries, they have always been welcomed in Taiwan, Caspi said.

He added that he hoped the community center would become a place open to everyone interested in learning about the rich Jewish heritage and history while spurring dialogue and understanding among Jews and Taiwanese.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel