Money Religion

By Fish, Isaac Stone | Newsweek, January 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

Money Religion


Fish, Isaac Stone, Newsweek


Byline: Isaac Stone Fish

In Google's 2009 year-end search rankings, an odd new query cracked the top five in China: "Why are Jews excellent?" It's the Talmud, stupid. Or at least that's the answer being pushed by Chinese publishers, who have flooded the market with self-help titles such as The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book and Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules. There's even a Talmud Business Success Bible, helpfully stuffed into every room of the Talmud hotel in Taiwan. While no overall sales numbers are available for this sliver of the book market, the American publisher of Jewish Family Education claims to have sold more than a million copies in Asia. The Hebrews are clearly "very popular," says Wang Jian of the Shanghai-based Center of Jewish Studies.

As a sales strategy, selling Jewishness seems like a shrewd move in China, one of the few countries whose history with the chosen people is largely copacetic. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Shanghai was an open city for Jews escaping the Holocaust. …

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