A while back I read a book called “The Bamboo Cradle.” I was enchanted at the story of a young barren Jewish couple, the Schwartzbaums, teaching/researching in China on a Fulbright scholarship, adopting a Chinese girl. In the process of the couple having Hsin-Mei (later named Devorah) and converting her to Judaism, the couple became Torah observant. In the end, they all lived in Israel, the Schwartzbaums were then blessed with a few more children, and then became (the father’s name was Allen, or Avraham) the biggest baalei Kiruv, having Shabbos guests weekly and “showing them the light.”
So, what happened since the writing of that book? There wasn’t any sequel written. After a bit of research on the internet, I came across an article entitled “The Bamboo Cradle Revisited: An Adoption Story, by Myra Hettelman“. There, the article, dated on 2005, mentions that the author recently attended a lecture given by Devorah Schwartzbaum, now called Goldstein. As you can guess, she had since married, turns out to the second boy she dated, who amazingly found religion on his own, and now has children of her own. In the orthodox Jewish community this was a big thing as Devorah was a convert without much “royal lineage” (yichus), and there was therefore a fear that she might not have been “as good enough” as other qualified girls of her age. Amazingly, this showed how much the Jewish community accepted Devorah as a full-fledged Jew.
Today Devorah lives in Baltimore and is a renowned speaker, sharing her life experiences, at the same time keeping her own children out of the limelight. It’s unfortunate though that a sequel can never be written by the same author, Dr. Avraham Schwartzbaum, as he recently passed away in 2007 , in his early sixties.
In the end, we are left with a legacy of knowing that no two Jews are alike, and to love and treat each Jew as a brother regardless of origin. In the case of Chinese Jews this especially applies. On a related note, here’s a fantastic video I found on today’s Chinese (and Indian) Jews: