How Jewish is Japan, really?

From Chapter One: The Wagamama Bride 

“My Queens accent is getting in the way. I say talk as if it rhymes with pork. My Hebrew is limited to a few blessings and prayers. Even though the chances of winning the New York State lottery are about the same as finding a nice Jewish boy in Japan, I’m about to give it a try. I trade my Jewish hometown of New York City for Tokyo. “

Nobody has taken a head count of the number of Jewish American women married to Japanese because — to my knowledge, ten fingers and toes is more than enough for a Tokyo city-wide census of those of us who swapped our Jewish communities back in the USA for a 35 million soul metropolis where we met, fell in love with, and married “Tadashi San”–Japanese for Mr. Right.

With one conservative synagogue, Tokyo in the 1980s attracted a motley congregation from all corners of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi worlds, led by a conservative rabbi from the US. Here I was among a couple of hundred Jewish families and single people like myself. Some were working in Tokyo as expat business people, others as lawyers, teachers, or as graduate students or tourists. There were even a few like me – journalists who had landed in Japan in search of the big scoop.

But that was then, more than 20 years ago. Since the year 2000, the Jewish landscape of Tokyo has been transformed, enriched, and enlivened owing to the presence of two charismatic Lubavitch rabbis and their very contrasting, but complementary approaches to Chabad Houses they run in Tokyo.

Rabbi Binyomin and Rebbetzin – Efrat Edery http://www.chabadjapan.org/http://www.chabad.jp/

Rabbi Mendi and Rebbetzin Chana Sudakevich —http://www.chabad.jp/

 

 

Author: admin

I'm a Tokyo-based artist and writer of a memoir in progress, The Wagamama Bride, based on nearly 30 years of life in Japan. The inspiration for this memoir is rediscovering my Jewish roots in Japan--thanks to Chabad.

4 thoughts on “How Jewish is Japan, really?”

  1. I love it! Look forward to reading more! Please let me know when your coming to Florida so I can prepare!! Can’t wait!🌸🌸🌸

  2. “Tadashi San” — I love this! And I look forward to reading many more blogs about your island of human society that I would otherwise never have imagined existed. Arigato from the San Francisco Bay Area of California, USA!

    1. Thank you Susan! Love this expression: an island of human society! Yes indeed! Our rabbi even jokingly refers to our niche in Japan as Torah Island.

Comments are closed.