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October 14, 1966 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-10-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

14—Friday, October 14, 1966

The Jews of Japan

BY J. I. FISHBEIN
(Editor The Sentinel, Chicago)

(Copyright, 1966, J.T.A., Inc.)

TOKYO—Some years ago it was
said that thousands of Japanese
were converting to Judaism. The
truth is that there has been little
if any such conversion. Some dozen
Japanese women who have mar-
ried Jews have converted and keep
the faith, but that is the extent of
the movement.
The Jewish Community Center
in Tokyo is the home of the or-
ganized Jewish community of
Japan. It was founded in 1953,
through the purchase of the pres-
ent property which was originally
formed in 1948 and incorporated
in 1953.
Membership in the center is open
to all Jewish residents in Japan.
It currently includes 150 families
comprising about 400 souls. About
one-third are American citizens,
one-third are Israelis and one-
third are a variety of other na-
tionalities, including some Japa-
nese.
Religious activities include
regular Friday night and Saturday
morning services, plus observance
of all major holidays. As the Jew-
ish Center houses the only syna-
gogue in eastern Japan, it can
be neither Orthodox, Conservative
nor Reform, but serves members
of all shades of belief. The actual
ritual followed may be called Con-
servative.
A full time rabbi had been em-
ployed for many years. Since his
departure in June 1965, the or-
ganization is seeking a worthy
successor. In the meantime, it is
fortunate to number among its
members Rabbi Hiroshi Okamoto,
(Hebrew Union College — Jewish
Institute of Religion, 1964), direc-
tor of the Tokyo Jewish Seminar
and a member of the Central Con-
ference of American Rabbis, who
assists as necessary.
A Sunday school with an intro-
ductory class, three Jewish history
classes, a class on Jewish festivals
and religion, a youth group and
weekday Hebrew classes are cur-
rently in operation. This is supple-
mented by a class in Judaism for
Japanese wives, conducted by Rab-
bi Okamoto, and an adult seminar
in Jewish history. All educational
services for children are free.
The Judaica collection of the
Jewish Center consists of about 500
volumes on all phases of Judaism
in English and French, including
the Talmud, Midrash, Maimonides
Code, Rashi and philosophy, liter-
ature and art.
General community services in-
clude maintenance of a Jewish sec-
tion of the Yokohama cemetery and
a Chevra Kadisha; a kosher dairy
restaurant; a Jewish-style restau-
rant; provision of wine and matzo
for festivals; assistance in Brith
Milah, bar mitzvas, weddings and
other simchas; a commercial arbi-
tration service; and a community
register.
Social and recreational services
include a swimming and wading
pool, lounge, billiard and game
rooms, circulating library, cham-
ber music concerts (28 in the past
five years), parties and dances,
movies and lectures.
Charity and assistance have
been given generously and regular-
ly to Japanese orphanages, and the
Jewish community has repeatedly
donated to Japanese relief and wel-
fare funds.
The Jewish community is repre-
sented on the Tokyo USO commit-
tee, cooperating with the U. S.
Armed Services and Jewish chap-
lains. It also cooperates with the
Japan-Israel Women's Organiza-
tion and the Japan-Israel Friend-
ship Association in ch aritable
works, including scholarships for
Japanese in Israel.
It is also affiliated with the
World Jewish Congress and has
been represented at its conven-
tions.
Besides the Jewish Center in
Tokyo, there is a second organized

France to Insure Firms
That Deal With Israel
Against Arab Boycott

community in Kobe—some 300
miles west. Kobe is Japan's second
largest port and, together with ad-
jacent Osaka (Japan's second larg-
est city), forms a key commercial
center.
The Kobe Jewish community has
a shul with regular Friday and Sat-
urday morning services. Since
there are only 20 to 30 people,
they usually do not have enough
for a daily minyan.
*
*
Japan has been traditionally
anti-foreigner: 150 years ago none
were allowed to enter the country.
Yet recently, Jan Peerce, Metro-
politan Opera star, in searching
through Japanese songs to add to
his repertoire, was astonished to
find Hebrew phrases in the folk
songs he heard.
It's fantastic," Peerce said, "to
hear these phrases and to think
that the Japanese have been sing-
ing them for centuries without
knowing the meaning of the
words." He added: "Dr. Eiji Kawa-
morita of San Francisco recently
wrote a book on his studies of
Hebrew phrases in Japanese folk
songs. I half doubted his conclu-
sions. Now, I am sure he has some-
thing."
Before the war a fundamentalist
Christian sect claimed the Japa-
nese were descended from the half
tribe of Menasseh, one of the Ten
Lost Tribes scattered by the As-
syrians after the fall of the Judean
monarchy.
A Canadian professor, Dr. Frank
Odium who taught at the Imperial
University in Tokyo during the
early 1920s, also claimed the Japa-
nese were descended from the
Jews. His theories have been
adopted by the British-Israel So-
ciety, which claims the British
also as part of the Ten Lost Tribes
of Israel.

-

Rebellion and the Jew
Is Theme of New Novel

One rebel's battle to preserve
his identity and his birthright of
protest is the theme of "Mott the
Hoople," a first novel by Willard
Manus, a young Jewish-American
writer, to be published by McGraw-
Hill Oct. 25. It is acclaimed an
explosively funny, irreverent comic
novel in the tradition of Zangwill,
S.J. Perelman and Nathanael
West. The hero is Norman Mott,
a latke-eating, wise-cracking figure
of Rabelasian proportions. He's a
clown but he's also a fighter. He
cannot deny it and remain man,
remain a Jew.
Mott is an unforgettable char-
acter because he's an original, a
unique human being with a voice
and a vision all his own. Unlike
so many recent heroes of Ameri-
can comic f i c t i o n, he is not
alienated from life. He is not
afraid of it. He loves it. His
struggle is not to live decently,
but to live manfully. ,
In the course of his struggle,
Mott takes on some formidable
opponents, ranging from his draft
board to a famed—and fraudulent
—evangelist who wants to convert
him to the Christian faith. The
story ranges over contemporary
America and vividly dramatizes
the hilarious and bizarre quest of
a radical young Jew to find his
place in the Brave New World.
Mott comes through, he lives to
sound his defiant yawp in the
face of eternity, but not before
he pays the price in flesh and
blood.
With the publication of "Mott
the Hoople," an important new
Jewish-American writer is launch-
ed. one who employs the full
arsenal of weapons at the modern
novelist's disposal— satire, fan-
tasy, realism, surrealism, the
absurd and the picaresque.
Willard Manus, 36, born and
raised in the Bronx, with his wife
and two children is now traveling
in Greece and Israel, and is work-
ing on another novel.

- PARIS (JTA)—The French gov-
ernment has decided that state in-
surance provided for foreign trade
will, from now on, include a guar-
antee against the risk of the Arab
boycott.
For several years, French com-
panies which negotiated with Arab
states were told by the French
Guarantee Fund that, in case of
damages which would occur be-
cause of the Arab boycott against
Israel, no insurance would be giv-
en.
The French told the Israel Em-
bassy here that, after a long study,
instructions had been given to
guarantee against the risk of the
Arab boycott.
Israel diplomats have sought the
latest French announcement for
several years. Reliable sources
said that French Finance Minister
Michel Debre and Foreign Minis-
ter Maurice Couve de Murville
gave their full agreement to this
decision.

Wiesel's 'Jews of Silence'
Causes Stir in Paris

PARIS (JTA)—The plight of
the Jews in the Soviet Union at-
tracted wide-spread attention with
the publication, in the important
French weekly, L'Express, of ex-
cerpts from the new book, "The
Jews of Silence," by the Jewish
writer and journalist, Elie Wiesel,
who does his major work in Paris
and New York.
The book, which deals with the
plight of Soviet Jewry, was written
by Wiesel after an extensive visit
to the USSR to study the problem.
It is to be published soon in New
York.
Mr. Wiesel, who just returned
from a brief second visit to the
Soviet Union, during the Simhat
Torah celebrations, has appeared
on numerous television and radio
programs here, discussing the So-
viet Jewish question.

Debate is masculine; conversa-
tion is feminine.—Alcott

West Germans Angered by Communist Charges

BONN (JTA)—Gunther von Hase,
the West German government
spokesman, denounced East Ger-
man Communist leaders, charging
them with seeking to undermine
the West German regime by accu-
sations that high West German
officials had participated in Nazi
war crimes.
In a special statement at a press
conference, he cited as an example
an effort to discredit President
Heinrich Luebke by dissemination
of charges that the latter had been
responsible for building Nazi con-
centration camps during the war.
He cited an exhibit under Com-
munist auspices in Munich con-
taining documents about Dr.
Luebke in that connection, some
bearing Luebke's signature which
the West German government
promptly denounced as forgeries.
Von Hase noted that such docu-
ments had been confiscated by his
government. He also disclosed that
government officials had consider-

ed instituting libel proceeding
against persons in West Germany
who had repeated the "libel."
However, he said, it was decided
that the dignity of the president's
office might be harmed by such
proceedings, and the idea was
dropped. He reiterated that mater-
ial purporting to "prove" that Dr.
Luebke had engaged in such activi-
ties was "entirely false" and that
there was absolutely "no sub-
stance to the charges."

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