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Amid protests, life goes on as normal for Jews in Hong Kong

TJI Pick
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Published: 30 August 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

“That’s the crazy thing; there is a revolution taking place but our lives have continued as normal,” said Ben Freeman, one of Hong Kong’s 5000-strong Jewish community

SINCE EARLY JUNE, protesters in Hong Kong have been gathering multiple times a week to fight what they see as Chinese attempts to encroach on their freedoms. The police have responded violently at times, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.

One demonstration drew an estimated 2 million protesters in a population of 7.3 million.

But for most members of the Jewish community in Hong Kong, life has gone on without much change.

“That’s the crazy thing about the situation, there is a revolution taking place but actually our lives have continued as normal,” said Ben Freeman, a Glasgow native who has been living in Hong Kong for the past two years.

Hong Kong, a one-time British colony now controlled by China and given limited autonomy, is home to some 5,000 Jews and a number of Jewish institutions. There are seven congregations — Orthodox, Chabad and progressive — a Jewish community centre, school and Holocaust centre.

But none of the organisations are located in the areas where protests are happening and business is operating largely as usual.

“I went for Shabbat dinner on Friday night at a friend’s house and of course we talk about it, but nothing at the moment — and this is the privilege: Nothing is happening to expats, so there is definitely a feeling of safety,” Freeman, who works as a teacher at an international school, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

FULL STORY Why most Jews in Hong Kong are not involved with the protests (JTA)

Photo: Channel News Asia

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