“And you shall keep them and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the peoples, who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Only this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deuteronomy 4:6)
Benjamin Peng, a Shanghai-based observer Israel-China ties and a consultant on Israeli Hi-tech investment, reported recently that a magnet, 9-year primary school in Shanghai’s Hongkou District is offering a Hebrew language classes, as part of an effort to increase students’ interests in “minority languages.” The class is being taught by Israeli teacher Miri Beck-Freund, a graduate of the Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv.
According to Peng, Chinese people are curious about Israel and have positive feelings about Jews and the Jewish state. “In China, it is fair to say, Israeli people are perceived, generally, as very smart people,” Peng reports.The Shanghai Evergreen school is offering Hebrew to fourth graders, who are expected to keep with the course until the eighth grade. Classed involve group learning through games, animation videos, and what Peng defines as “culture experiencing.”
With 57 classrooms, close to 2,600 students, and 176 faculty members including 106 senior teachers, Evergreen is the largest nine-year school in the area. Classrooms computer networked, there’s a television studio producing school-related programming, electronic meeting rooms, an indoor gymnasium, and state of the art labs. The school campus is beautiful, with a rock garden, fountains, pavilions and sculptures.
“The China-Israel relationship has been getting closer and closer, and today Chinese companies are also undertaking more and more investment activities in Israel,” according to Peng, who occasionally blogs for the Times of Israel. It appears that Shanghai, which served as a safe haven for thousands of eastern European Jews in WW2, is especially interested in Israel, and a large portion of Chinese investments in Israeli startup projects have come from Shnghai-based investors. Pengs says Shanghai today is “the most dynamic international financial center in China.”