Celebrating 60 years of Jewish Life in Japan
More than 100 Jewish Families came together on November 2nd to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Jewish Community of Japan as the community marked its 60th anniversary. For Westerners the 60th anniversary is the Diamond Jubilee and in Japan the age of 60 is known as kanreki. For the members of the Jewish Community of Japan it was a night to remember as the community looked back over the years since it was founded in 1953.
Jerry Rosenberg has been a member of the JCJ since he came to Japan from Cleveland in 1972 with his wife Marsha. Jerry has served as President twice and Marsha runs the Educational Programs. Looking back at how the community has changed, Jerry commented that “the JCJ has been a central part of our family life in Tokyo. We have remained close friends with past members who all have fond memories of the JCJ. Community has always been one of the central themes of Judaism. The JCJ community has evolved over the last 60 years, but has remained relevant to the changing needs of our community. Our ability to change will be one of the key factors for our continued success to meet the needs of the Jewish community in Tokyo.”
The more than 100 families who are official members of the JCJ can trace their roots back to distant locations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. Still, with many members married to Japanese spouses and a growing number of children born in Japan, besides the integral link of Judaism, the common denominator of the community is their Japanese identity. Most of the families are deeply rooted in Japan and include many Japanese citizens. This is a community that is firmly rooted in Tokyo and is here to stay.
Looking ahead at the years to come President of the JCJ Philip Rosenfeld commented “our objective is for the JCJ to continue to be a vibrant and dynamic institution that will play a central role in the lives of our members.”
Rabbi David Kunin who arrived in Tokyo after serving the Jewish Community in Edmonton for 10 years is thrilled to be in Japan with his wife Shelly. He commented that “over the last 60 years the members of the JCJ have built a very strong foundation for continued Jewish life here in Japan. Shelley and I look forward to being part of this community, as together we build for the next 60 years.”
To mark this 60-year milestone the Board of the JCJ put together a committee headed by Board Member Marlene Elman, who is from Canada and has been in Tokyo for four years with her husband and daughter. Reflecting on the celebration Marlene said “A diamond is forever. In planning for this celebration we wanted it to be a night for our members to come together, embrace the Jewish bonds that we share and to look forward to the ongoing vitality of this wonderful community. The smiles and warm embraces that I saw throughout the evening made all the hard work worthwhile. This is a warm and welcoming community and we hope to see more Jews join us when they move to or are just passing through Tokyo on travel or business.”
For more information about the JCJ please see this link: http://www.jccjapan.or.jp/
View videos of the event below.