Imagine a pool in a luxury spa in the center of China, with vaulted ceilings and exquisitely painted walls, filled with purified rainwater, and fit for an emperor to bathe in…
Or, actually, an empress. Because this bath is a mikvah–a ritual bath designed for women who observe the Jewish laws of menstrual purity. Possibly the strangest part of this story is one media outlet that covered it: A Chinese TV show called Sexy Beijing.
Sexy Beijing (watch the episode here or below) is a documentary that’s essentially about its host, an American expatriate named Su Fei. The show itself is a mix of ribald humor and just-plain-weirdness. In this episode, Su Fei shows up at the mikvah’s grand opening, ostensibly to cover the event, but also with her mother’s encouragement: Maybe she’ll find a nice Jewish boy.
By the end of the short visit, it doesn’t look as if Su Fei will be getting married any time soon. But she’s learned more than a bit about Orthodox Judaism and its Chinese manifestation–and we’ve learned more than a bit about Su Fei.
June 19, 2012