you throughout Taiwan
San Diego Jewish Times, April 19, 2005
-- A mural gracing the lobby of the National Concert Hall in Taipei includes a
gong-ringing woman, whose eyes are said to follow you wherever in the large
assembly area you go.
recently came to feel that the eyes of Jewish culture similarly were upon me
wherever Nancy and I toured Taiwan in
the company of our machatunim, Chang Wen-Shion, president of Lunghwa
University of Science and Technology, and his wife Ming-Huy.
Taiwan's magnificent Taroko Gorge, a sheer wall of white marble, having been
washed by rushing blue river waters, now resembles a long row of white and blue
Jewish prayer shawls. I could not help but feel that I was standing before a
magnificent wall of tallisim fashioned by God Himself.
Hsu Chien-cheng and Magen David (at left) and the tallisim effect on
marble cliffs of Taroko Gorge
In Jiji, one can find the Wuchang Buddhist Temple that was destroyed in the earthquake of Sept. 21, 1999. The earthquake struck at night, so luckily no one was inside the house of worship when it collapsed. Standing before it, I envisioned the biblical story in which Samson wreaked similar devastation on a Philistine temple.
atop the Tzu Chi Foundation Building is what appears startlingly to Jewish eyes
to be a swastika. In fact, it is
not the hated nazi symbol at all, but is the Buddhist sign representing
reincarnation. The arms of the symbol are in the reverse direction of the
swastika, with the top-most branch going to the left, and not to the right.
"It is not the German sign of death," said a guide.
"It means just the opposite."
see this symbol everywhere," Ruth Kahanoff, representative of Israel's
Economic and Cultural Office, said back in Taipei. "You get used to it
formerly Israel's ambassador to New Zealand, noted that because Israel has
recognized the rival People's Republic of China since 1950, it does not have
formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Its
bilateral relationship with Taiwan, like those of many other countries, are
conducted under the auspices of an office whose chief focus is business
in the fields of high technology is of particular interest, said Kahanoff, who
cited sister university agreements between two universities in Taiwan with the
Technion in Haifa. Besides
promoting Israel-Taiwan trade, Kahanoff's office also wants to acquaint the
Taiwanese people with Jewish culture. An
exhibition on Jewish life around the world--culled from the exhibits of Israel's
famed Jewish Museum--is planned next year in Taiwan.
is a tiny Jewish community in Taipei, comprised mainly of expatriate business
people, who maintain a hotel-based Jewish community center and who can help
arrange a kosher/Shabbat meal for travelers, Kahanoff said.
consulate itself is located at the World Trade Center adjacent to Taipei's
101-story building which, because of higher floor to ceiling measurements than
elsewhere in the world, is claimed as the highest skyscraper on the globe.
Israel flag (12 o'clock) at Taipei World Trade Center; Taipei 101 skyscraper
traveled non-stop from Los Angeles to Taipei aboard a Malaysian Airlines flight
that left about 1 a.m. Los Angeles time--an hour after schedule-- and arrived
about 7:30 a.m. at Taipei's Chiang Kai-Shek international airport.
Most of the time the passengers slept, but when they were awake they were
treated to smooth and efficient meal service by winsome flight attendants.
Screens in the chair back facing you permitted individualized selection
of movies. The return flight also
left in the evening, arriving in Los Angeles about 6:30 p.m.
Because we crossed the international date line, technically we arrived in Los
Angeles before we left Taipei.
in Taipei, we stayed at the colossal Grand Hotel, a high-rise palace of red
lacquered wood and old-style Chinese grace that is favored by the world's
diplomats. During our visit, the Grand exhibited the flags of Taiwan and El
Salvador in recognition of a visit by the vice president of that Central