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Connecting Our Communities – The Jewish Community Center

When you think of Taiwan and religion it tends to be images of Buddhist and Taoist temples that spring to mind. However, you can also find churches, mosques and one synagogue. Since I started living abroad I’ve become more and more interested in different faiths as they are so often intertwined with a country’s culture. This was particularly the case when I came to Asia, as the temples you see here are so different from the English churches that I grew up with. However, a few months ago I learned about the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and my curiosity was piqued as I realised that I had never, ever, visited a synagogue. I thought I knew something about Judaism but my visit to the JCC was a total eye opener. It made me very aware of how little I actually knew, while at the same time being full of beautiful surprises. As I walked tentatively down Alley 1, I thought I might be lost, but then I saw this gleaming white building ahead of me and knew that I was in the right place. The JCC lights up the narrow street with its sparkling white walls and its simple shape.

Mr Schwartz and Na Tang

It houses a treasure trove of Judaica which decorate the
walls and tell the history of the Jews. It also has a beautiful mikveh for the spiritual cleansing that Jewish people undertake from time to time. On the roof is a Moroccan-tiled floor that leads you to the synagogue, painted inside in a warm yellow so you feel it’s permanently bathed in sunshine.

Finally, it houses the only authentic kosher restaurant in Taipei which has some mouthwatering dishes on the
menu.

The JCC opened in 2021 to provide the Jews in Taiwan (there are around (1,000) with an official place of worship and somewhere to share and pass on their heritage. This place was one of the first projects completed by the Jewish Taiwan Cultural Association (JTCA). This Association was founded by Jeffrey Schwartz and his wife, Na Tang. Mr Schwartz has lived in Taiwan since the seventies and wanted to give something back to the Taiwanese community. He financed the design and construction of the building and donated many Judaica from his private collection. While Mr Schwartz is the founder of the JCC, Rabbi Shlomi ensures the religious standards are observed there. Rabbi Shlomi was educated and trained by the Chabad Lubavitch organisation but reaches out to all Jews. He conducts the services

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