A Very Busy End to April and Start to May: Passover, Cooking Classes, a Kehillat Beijing Trip to the Ancient Observatory, an Anime Convention, and so much more!

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back to my Astronomer in Beijing blog! I hope you’re all doing well. For all of you in College Academia, I hope the end of the semester isn’t too hectic. For all of the Mother’s out there, I hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day! Although I wasn’t able to see my Mom on Mother’s Day, I’m very excited to have my parents and Jesse visit later this week! It’ll be so great to show them around Beijing (and Shanghai)! As you all know by now, my time in China is swiftly coming to an end. I’m in the process of packing up my apartment (definitely not the most fun thing, although Goldie likes jumping in the suitcases). I also just booked my flights to Italy. I’ll leave Beijing on June 22. It’s a bit surreal and sad that I know my time is almost over. That said, despite having a lot of paperwork/forms/reports that I need to do for both Italy and China, I’m trying to do some fun things, so I hope you enjoy hearing about them!

Passover in Beijing

If you remember, my last post was just before Passover, so that feels like a great place to start. This year, I co-lead the Kehillat Beijing Community Seder with my friends Kevin & Sam (we co-lead services every week, too!) at the Capital Club Athletic Center. We had about 80 people at the Seder and although there were a few hiccups in terms of corralling everyone to start, we had a lovely time! We really wanted to make sure that there was a lot of community participation, so we had ~ 30 volunteers do English and/or Hebrew readings and I think everyone really enjoyed the Seder! This was my first time leading a Seder and while it definitely is a bit stressful (it’s harder when everyone isn’t around one large table – we had 10 tables), It was a lot of fun. We also had some lovely music provided for us by various Kehillat Bejing members (Chad Gadya, Let My People Go, Dayenu, etc), which added extra ambiance!

On the second night of Passover, Roberta & Ted hosted a smaller Seder for the Kehillat Beijing board and a few other friends, which was equally lovely! We did the tradition of going around the table for reading the Hagaddah and I made my Mother’s Date Charoset as well as a Vegan Matzah Lasagna! Of course, Ted had delicious matzo ball soup and it was a fun night all around! It was a nice contrast, too, from the larger Seder to a more intimate one.

Vegans of Beijing Cooking Class

The Saturday before Passover, I went to another amazing Vegans of Beijing cooking class with Chef Chao at the Hutong Cooking School. This time, Richard and Tom joined me (and look at our aprons!)! Last month, Chef Chao taught us to make xianbing, a stuffed chinese pie/pancake! Like with the baozi, jiaozi, and other doughs, this one was a bit tricky, although the dough was a bit easier to deal with (possibly due to the water content – but it was quite sticky!). We first mixed the dough by hand (it’s only flour, water, and a bit of salt – we use a high gluten flour for the stretchy-ness), before letting it rest. While our dough rested, Chef Chao taught us how to do the chopping for the different fillings. As always, his knife skills are amazing! Since the weather is quite warm now, we were able to do all of the prep-work and eating outside!

Once the dough had rested, we needed to roll it out into thin circles which we then stuffed with three different delicious fillings! Similar to when we made jiaozi, each person was responsible for making a different filling. I made the pickled cabbage and rice noodle pie (I really like how Chef Chao uses the rice noodles to add some extra texture!). Richard made the Chinese chive and Tofu pie, and Tom made the carrot, mushroom, and cabbage pie! All three were very different and incredibly tasty (Especially topped with Chef Chao’s chili oil – I have that recipe, so I may need to try to make it when I’m in Italy, as I expect it’ll be a bit harder to track down chili oil).

Unlike the baozi, and especially the jiaozi, where there is an aesthetic beauty, for xianbing, it’s a bit more of a street food. What I mean by this is once you stuff it, you roll a rolling pin over the pie so that it’s uniform thickness, which makes it easy to pan fry. Once we’d all made our different pies, we passed around the various plates and got to try them all! They were all so good! I don’t think I had a favorite, but I definitely want to make these again!

Kehillat Beijing Goes to the Ancient Observatory!!

Although I’ve done many lovely things as part of Kehillat Beijing, one of the things that I hadn’t done yet was have a chance to meld my life in China outside of Astronomy with my Astronomy work. While there aren’t too many chances, a while back I had posted a NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day featuring the Ancient Observatory in Beijing. A number of people from Kehillat Beijing expressed interest in visiting, and I was finally able to organize a trip this past Saturday! While I’m not a tour guide and my knowledge of Ancient Chinese Astronomy isn’t perfect, it was still really fun to take everyone around and show the various large Astronomical Instruments, discuss the history of the Jesuits bringing different Astronomy tools to China, and also answer some general Astronomy questions! We had about 13 people including me and it included a lot of friends, as well as some new community members, too! Going in, I was definitely a bit nervous because although I’ve visited the Ancient Observatory twice, I wasn’t quite sure how I could give a tour (and since they don’t let you buy tickets ahead of time, I couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t be randomly closed). We ended up exploring the different exhibits and I did my best to answer various questions about how different calendars worked, why there was a need for an observatory in Beijing, how sextants work, what is azimuth, and various other devices.

Everyone seemed to have a great time! I’m so glad that I could share a bit of my Astronomy with so many friends from the community. One of the highlights was now that I know the history of Guo Shuojing, one of the most famous ancient Chinese Astronomers, who also helped construct/connect the Shichahai lakes, I saw his name everywhere – including on the stellarium (the large black sphere which replicates the position of the stars in the night sky! We capped off the tour with a visit to the tower to see the larger than life Astronomy instruments, as well as a great view of Beijing (and we got to have Ted tell us some great stories of his early times in Beijing in 1989 – if you’re a history buff, this year may be familiar). My only regret is that I wish we could try to use one of the instruments (or just try to move one)! I’ve used a sextant before, but that was modern and MUCH smaller. It’d be fun (though likely dangerous) to try to use them.

A Tale of Two Art Museums: The Tsinghua Art Museum & 798!

Because my birthday was in the middle of Passover this year (April 24), I didn’t want to attempt to do a Birthday dinner on my actual Birthday (I did have a birthday dinner a week later). Instead, Richard, Pablo, and I went to the Tsinghua Art Museum! We’d been meaning to go for ages, especially as it is right next to our office building, and as Tsinghua staff, we get in for free! The museum was really great and they had a few different shows!

The highlight was the Beyond Arts & Crafts: From Morris to Mackintosh, an Exhibit on the British Arts & Crafts movement. Unbeknownst to me (but told to me when I talked to my Mom later in the day), my Mom is a big fan of the Arts & Crafts movement and we have a few different William Morris tapestries in my house that are quire similar to those in the exhibit (I did think they looked familiar).

Outside of that exhibit, we saw a few different exhibits including Modern Chinese Art, Chinese embroidery, ink painted scrolls, and Mediterranean/South Asian/East Asian pottery. I’ve included a selection of my favorite pieces below! It was really cool to see! There was one additional contemporary art exhibit that I didn’t get to see, so I may try to stop in to see that sometime before I finish! Ultimately, it was a fun way to celebrate my birthday and take a break from working!

Early in May, I decided to head to Shabbat a bit early so that I could go to 798 and see a cool exhibit at the HIVE gallery, where my friend Sarah from Kehillat Beijing works. For those of you who don’t remember, 798 is the Artist district in Beijing and it’s filled with a ton of amazing contemporary art exhibits. Although I’ve been to 798 multiple times, I’d never been to HIVE, so I was excited to see the exhibit and have Sarah tell me about the exhibits! There were two exhibits and they were very different. The first featured stunning drawings showing man’s descent into madness and the extremes of depression during the throws of COVID Zero. You see lots of illusions to inner monsters and the light and dark sides of human nature. The art was certainly stunning and powerful, although not necessarily something I’d want on my wall. Unsurprisingly, Sarah said that the original show was about double the size, but that much of it was censored and couldn’t be shown.

The second was another beautiful set of works by a young Chinese artist, though this time focusing more on color and zoom-ins of landscapes. It created a unique dichotomy between the two shows!

And of course, no visit to 798 is complete without seeing some cool street art!

An Anime Convention in Beijing

On the first weekend of May, I stumbled on a WeChat post about an anime convention happening in Beijing! This immediately caught my interest and because the convention was at the Olympic Park, I decided to go! While I couldn’ figure out how to buy tickets ahead of time, they would not allow me to select a Passport as the ID type, when I got there, i was surrounded by a Sea of Cosplayers and immediately felt like I was back at Boston Comic Con. It’s really eerie how similar this convention center is to the one at the Seaport. While there were a ton of Chinese “anime” characters that I did not recognize, I saw a ton of people dressed as characters from anime’s like Attack on Titan and Haikyuu and multiple people dressed as the Joker. It was really cool to walk around and see all of the vendors. While there wasn’t an artist alley – my favorite part of US comic conventions, where you can talk to creators, buy prints, and get sketches – there were a lot of cool vendors to take photos of, some fun sketch walls with large anime drawings, and some carnival games like I saw at the Ditan Park Temple Fair! I had a lot of fun just walking around and taking photos! And in case anyone is wondering, I wasn’t the only foreigner! I ran into a group of friends, two of whom were from Canada and one from Poland!

A Trip to the Olympic Park!

After going to the anime convention, I decided to head north from the Olympic park and visit the Olympic Tower and the Olympic Forrest park. Although I’ve seen the Olympic Tower, this was my first time visiting it (I’ve always walked South towards the Bird’s Nest, not North). For those of you who’ve been to Seattle, the Olympic Tower is a bit like the Space Needle. You take a 200+ story elevator to the top, but the views, even on a grey and cloudy day are worth it! The tower itself is full of Olympic memorabilia, so it was really cool, too!

After the Tower, I continued north to the Olympic Forrest Park. On my internal list of things to do in Beijing, this is one of the last things that I haven’t gone to, so I’m really glad I got to go. Since the park is enormous, I only saw ~ 1/4 of the park, but it was really cool! My favorite parts included the mini waterfall, a submerged portion of a bridge, where you stood eye-level in a lake, and getting to see some baby ducklings! It was a lot of fun to walk around someplace new and it’s really pretty!

Astronomy Update: Life at Tsinghua

While I had hoped to be wrapped up with Project Morphology this month, I’m still stuck on a bug in my code when it comes to measuring the magnitude (the brightness) of the galaxies. I’ve been working with one of my colleagues to attempt to troubleshoot it, but even in trying to have Jesse run the code on a separate computer, we still get the same error. I have a few more ideas involving the detection thresholds when the images are in different units, but I’ve needed to spend time working on all of the forms to officially finish up my postdoc at Tsinghua and all of the paperwork for Italy. That said, much of my time this month has been spent working on my Postdoctoral “thesis” – for those of you familiar with typical Astronomy postdocs, this is pretty unusual. Because of the multitude of forms and paperwork required for my postdoc at Tsinghua, I need to put together a “thesis”. While much of it is taking existing papers that I’ve written, it still has taken longer than I would like to reformat various figures and tables. Currently, I’ve finished the portions where I’m just inputting existing material, but I still need to write up Project Morphology. Although it won’t be perfect, I do have the preliminary analysis done, so I can include that. While I wish I could spend a bit more time doing actual science, it’s starting to look like much of my summer will be spent wrapping up both Project Morphology and Project Low-Z. In terms of the paperwork for Italy, I finally have my Brown and Boston University degrees and transcripts translated and certified, so my parents can send them to the Italian Consulate in Boston before they come to visit me. While it seems like endless paperwork, I’m glad that things are finally starting to come together. Despite the grind, the campus is at least pretty, so I can share some lovely pictures with you all.

This month, the Tsinghua Department of Astronomy celebrated their 5th Birthday! While for their previous birthday’s, the department had a small celebration with cake, this year, we had a full, all-afternoon Department presentation. While it was not the most fun way to spend my Saturday (especially as there was NO English), I did get to see the new Astronomy building, which I almost certainly won’t get to move into. Additionally, I did finally get to see the Tsinghua Observatory. However, there wasn’t any old telescope in the dome, just a modern telescope, but it was still cool!

Additionally, on April 25, Pablo, Tom, and I took part in a fun calligraphy class hosted by the Tsinhua International Scholars office. Although my Mandarin is quite poor and my recognition of characters is really bad, it was fun to play with paint brushes and attempt to recreate different characters. While I know my strokes aren’t perfect, I really enjoyed it (although I don’t think I really followed the assignment – I ended up painting a phoenix and a dragon with some rough characters and a fish for Pablo). Pablo and Tom really liked mine, though! Both of them are definitely better at the writing than me!

Jewish Life In Beijing

Between this post and the last post, we’ve had four amazing Shabbat dinners as well as two lovely Passover Seders. While it’s a bit sad as Shabbats have become a bit of a countdown to the end of my time in Beijing, I thoroughly enjoy them and am so glad that Roberta & Ted have created such a wonderful community where I belong and have the ability to co-lead services and share my thoughts on the week’s Torah Portion. I’m really glad that I’ll be leaving Beijing on a Saturday night, so one of my last Beijing memories will be a Shabbat dinner. This month, we started things off with a “Matzah Madness” Shabbat, since it was still during Passover. We then followed it up with “Golden Week” Shabbat for the May Day holiday in China. Last week, we had a fun Mother’s Day Shabbat in honor of all of the Mother’s in our Community, too! And this week we had a Norwegian Shabbat! Although I didn’t make anything for the first and third Shabbat, I did make some delicious fudgey brownies (which I also shared with some of my vegan friends and some of my colleagues) and carrot cake cookies!

Goldie!!!

Goldie remains my ever present companion. She definitely can tell that something is going on as suitcases are creating new perches to jump on and jump in and she has a new favorite box to sleep in (sadly, the box won’t be coming with us). I’m happy to report that I also booked Goldie on all of the flights, so she is set to go as my carry on (For anyone wondering I needed to call Air France to reserve her spot after booking my tickets – on large flights, like the Beijing to Paris flight, they allow 8 animals in the cabin, while on smaller flights, like my flight from Paris to Venice, they only allow 4. In each case, Goldie was the first cat signed up). I’m also happy to report that I have all of Goldie’s paperwork ready except her exit paperwork (I can’t do that until a week before). While Goldie may not know it, she’s almost ready to be an international traveler (I even booked a cat friendly AirBnB for Padova, too!).

While Goldie has definitely enjoyed jumping in all of my suitcases, she’s also still really enjoyed burrowing under all of my blankets and in boxes. I’m hoping that Goldie isn’t too disappointed that most of her favorites of my blankets won’t be coming to Padova, but I’m sure she’ll find new blankets to burrow under.

Exploring Beijing

This month, I also hung out a few different times with Richard in different parts of the city. During Passover, Richard, Daniele, and I went to a Thai Food Festival. While there wasn’t a ton of vegetarian options (I had a few different Thai teas as well as a mango coconut milk dish), I did try durian. For those of you who aren’t familiar, durian is one of the most unique fruits in all of the world. It’s hard to describe it. It’s spiky on the outside, but the fruit is sort of like a custard-like consistency that tastes sometimes sweet and other times like onions and garlic. While it isn’t my favorite fruit, I definitely am glad to say that I can try it! I also was glad to have Richard there to tell me whether it was “good” durian. If you’re wondering, I was wearing gloves to eat the durian so the smell wouldn’t stick on my hands after I ate it.

We also explored a smaller art district near the Central Business District in Beijing!

Last weekend, Richard and I met up to do our favorite pastime – wander around Shichahai (no really, it’s the thing we’ve done the most) and hangout. It’s always fun to just catch up and hear about his wedding plans, travel plans, and chat about Shogun and other things. We got a delicious lunch at Woye Oii (see the Vegan food section) and then walked it off by exploring the Nanluguoxiang Hutong street (It’s a giant street full of vendors) and Shichahai and Xihai (where we saw some miniature recreations of the Astronomy tools from the Ancient Observatory and a statue to Guo Shuojing!) Thankfully, Richard will be back in Beijing after his wedding/before I leave, so I’m sure we’ll get to hang out a few more times (and hopefully go to King’s Joy, the Vegetarian Three Michelin Starred restaurant in Beijing), but it’s always so much fun to hang out together!

And of course, no springtime/summertime post in my Astronomy in Beijing blog would be complete without showing all of the flowers in Beijing!

And in all of my exploring, I also saw a ton of other cool statues, posters, bike decals, and other fun things that I wanted to share! While I’m sure I’ll see interested things in Padova, I’ll miss all of the random cute figurines and statues!

Vegan Food in Beijing

Because of Passover, I didn’t eat out too much for the first part of the month. However, on May 1st, I met up with Richard, Pablo, Daniele, Josh, Rice, and Chris for a late Birthday dinner. We went to Fuhui Ciyuan, my favorite Vegetarian restaurant in Beijing! We got orange juice, Beijing buns with “mock meat”, steamed walnuts, fried eggplant, a large spinach “pie” – similar to what I made in the cooking class, spicy Sichuan-style Vegetarian mock fish, mustard mushrooms, cumin mushroom skewers, spicy tofu skins, sweet potato rolls, fried rice in a banana leaf, and Beijing style tofu! It was all delicious and made for a lovely Birthday dinner! We also got gelato after and I got a blueberry and lemon gelato!

I also joined my friends Andrea and Lionel (and some of Andrea’s friends) for a fun trivia at SideStreet an Indian-Influenced pub. We had delicious food! I got a vegan Indian-spiced patty, an eggplant salad, and amazing Gobi Manchurian (an Indo-Chinese Cauliflower dish). And to cap it off, we won! I haven’t played/partaken in trivia outside of Jesse’s Kehilat Shanghai trivia questions in a while, so it was nice to play!

As I mentioned above, last Sunday, Richard and I got lunch at Woye Oii, a Japanese-Korean-Chinese fusion vegetarian restaurant in Beijing! It’s a little bit of a hole in the wall, but the food is great and we really enjoyed it! We got a Japanese style tofu hot pot, a Korean style fried rice, and a Japanese style lentil curry. We also got hawthorn juice! You might be noticing that giant white ball. We fell victim to thinking that it was a mochi, but instead it was a dessert that was a giant ball of cream cheese. While the dessert was a let down, everything else was amazing!

Additionally, this month I did a ton of vegan cooking! I made lots of charoset for passover, matzah crunch, homemade vegan chocolate “FOMU” ice cream, vegan Matzah lasanga, lots of matzah pizzas, homemade quinoa falafel, vegan chocolate brownies, seitan with roasted cauliflower, a lentil taco salad, and carrot cake cookies!

What am I Reading/Watching?

On the reading front, I can be short and sweet. I’m still working my way through Artemis. I’m nearly done, but with all of the paperwork, it’s been a lot of late nights and I haven’t had a ton of time to read. I am hoping to finish it up soon.

On the TV front, I finished FX’s Shogun! I cannot recommend it enough. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Shogun is based on James Clavell’s novel of the same name and centers around a fictionalized version of William Adams (called John Blackthorne in the novel and played by Cosmo Jarvis) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (called Toranaga Yoshi and played by Hiroyuki Sanada). The show is excellent and does an amazing job crafting the beauty and cruelty of ancient Japan. You see the immaculate streets of Osaka and the Court, but contrasted with the dirtier, more real life Ajiro (the city where Blackthorne washes ashore). The show highlights the influence of Portugal in Japan pre-1600 as well as the animus between the British and the Portuguese and how these quarrels played out in Japan. While I read the novel in 10th grade, it’s always stuck with me and I Ioved that the showrunners built on the novel to make sure the Japanese characters were more fleshed out. It’s not solely the story of a foreigner in Japan, but also a truly Japanese story. I also have to highlight the amazing acting by Anna Sawai, who played Mariko, Blackthorne’s translator and lover. Also, I don’t want to give spoilers, but I know in talking to some friends there was confusion about the ending. All I’ll say here is Blackthorne DOES NOT return home. If you’re confused by this, let me know! Additionally, Shogun works as an excellent foil for Tokyo Vice, which I recently finished on MAX and Blue Eye Samurai on Netflix. While each show is different, Shogun clearly portrays the power dynamics in a more realistic manner than Blue Eye Samurai and helps to set the stage for a foreigner arriving in Japan in the 1990s as in Tokyo Vice. Each show offers a unique window as to what it means to be a foreigner – a gaijin – in Japan. Additionally, this month I finished watching Season 1 of Bosch: Legacy on Amazon Prime. Bosch: Legacy picks up the threads after the explosive series finale of Bosch and we get to see how Harry has crafted his life as a PI and how Maddie Bosch, his daughter, is handling being a rookie cop. It gives more agency to Maddie’s character and offers a different look at cop life in LA. I also finished the third and final season of Alex Rider on Amazon Freevee. This season dives into Alex’s past and his ties to the criminal spy organization Scorpia. I really loved these novels growing up and they do a great job adapting into really compelling tv! I also finished watching Sugar on Apple TV+. While I don’t want to spoil it, Sugar is modern detective noir with a twist and that twist hits hard! Colin Farrel is amazing and creates a really unique hero as he dives into the sleezy underbelly of Hollywood. I definitely recommend it! Additionally, I finished the most recent Mobile Suit Gundam anime, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury! This is another great anime and great installment into the Gundam franchise. Not only is it the first Gundam with a female gundam pilot, but the creators weave a unique setting for Gundams, making them unique from their previous counterparts. The story is half political intrigue and half mecha-anime, but all heart and a great time! I definitely recommend it!

Animals of Beijing

While Goldie is of course my favorite cat, I did see a lot of other cats and dogs this month. While mostly my neighborhood hutong cats, I also saw a guy walking with his cat just chilling on his backpack, as well as some lovely cats at the vets office when I went to pick up Goldie’s paperwork. Additionally, Mich’s cat Mango made an appearance at Shabbat! And of course, no Shabbat is complete without my favorite puppies Mimi & Honey!

When I was hanging out with Richard, we also went into a fun cat cafe on the lakes! While our iced tea was entirely too sweet, the cats were very playful and lovely! I’ve walked by that cafe many a time and glad I got to meet some of the cute cats (and give them a snack)!

East Meets West

While I didn’t see a ton of US and Western influenced things this month, I did see some fun/unique ones, including a Tim Hortons, some Mickey Mouse, and a Lynyrd Skynyd bike seat!

Anime & Comics

And of course, no Astronomer in Beijing post is complete without all of the cool manga, comics, and anime paraphernalia that I’ve spotted around Beijing! This month, I saw lots of Pokemon, Demon Slayer, Doraemon, DragonBall Z, & Batman. I really do love stumbling upon these displays in the hutongs and taking photos!

And I had to highlight the amazing 1TOY in 798! I’ve been here before and I’m always in awe of the giant selection of anime and comics statues! While these are well beyond my budget (and size scale), they all look really cool (especially the Super Saiyan Goku!). I hope you enjoy seeing them!

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much! I hope you enjoyed reading about what I’ve been up to in Beijing in my final months. I don’t have too many blog posts left, so I hope you enjoyed these ones. The next few weeks should be both fun and work-filled as I need to finish up by Tsinghua Thesis and am looking forward to showing my parents and Jesse around Beijing! I can’t wait to share with you what they think of the different historical sites! As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out either via e-mail or by commenting below. I hope you all have a lovely end to May!

In Peace,

Emmet

Beijing in Spring: Purim, Blossoms, Lanterns, and so much more in Beijing in March and April

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back to my Astronomer in Beijing blog. I hope this post finds you all doing well. For those of you in the US, I hope you enjoyed the Solar Eclipse! All of the photos I saw looked amazing and I’m definitely a bit envious – I’m already planning to try to make the 2026 solar eclipse that goes through Spain. For those of you who celebrate Passover, I hope you all have a lovely Seder on Monday night! Here in Beijing, I’ll be co-leading Kehillat Beijing’s Community Seder, but more on that next time. As spring arrives in Beijing, it’s really starting to hit me that I’ll be leaving Beijing in approximately 2 months (I really need to start looking at flights). I’m slowly starting to pack up my apartment and I’m making a list of things I’d like to do before I leave Beijing. It’s definitely bittersweet and I wish I had a bit more time (but I think I’d feel a blue regardless). However, that hasn’t prevented me from doing some fun things in the interim, including a visit to a traditional Chinese mansion and an amazing lantern display. I hope you enjoy reading about everything and seeing all of the photos!

Purim in Beijing!

Although Passover is just around the corner, since my last post, we celebrated Purim in Beijing. For those of your unfamiliar with it, Purim is a festival where Jews recount the story of Esther who helped prevent the destruction of the Jewish people by the evil Haman. Here in Beijing, we celebrate by doing a Purim Shpiel (ok, this is pretty traditional), but unlike most Purim Shpiels, Ted really works to add a bit more humor. This year, we had a full-on Simpson’s themed Purim Shpiel. Because everything came together a bit close to Purim, we did it as more of a table read/performance rather than a play and had about half of the 40 people who came to our Purim Shabbat take part. I got to play “Ho-Mordechai” (e.g., the Homer Simpson Mordechai fusion) and it was a lot of fun (my friend Richard even joined us as he’d been to our Purim Shpiel play a few years ago and really enjoyed it). Ted added in tons of Simpsons references and we all had a great time! Additionally, we had a delicious Purim potluck with lots of hamentaschen (the traditional triangle shaped Purim cookie), too (see the photos in the Jewish life in Beijing section)!

Later in the weekend, I continued celebrating Purim at Chabad’s Purim party! While I unfortunately missed the Megillah reading (I mis-timed how long it would take to get to Chabad via the subway), I did enjoy some delicious Purim treats and it was nice to see friends and celebrate.

Additionally, one of the Purim traditions is to give gift baskets to friends and family. I got a lovely Purim basket from Chabad as a gift from Roberta and Ted (I now have a very nice Havdallah set). Also, with our friends at Kehilat Shanghai, Kehillat Beijing did a combined Purim basket exchange with members of the community. We had a number of people from Beijing and Shanghai join and I made a nice Purim basket for my friend Sam and I got some lovely Purim goodies from one of my brother’s friends, Bec!