***Last Reminder for Friday Night Dinner Reservation by 2:00pm Wednesday 7/6***
The JCC was once described derisively as the ‘American Synagogue in Japan’, a play on the name of the institution which hoovers up an inordinately large percentage of members’ income known as ASIJ. But I think that characterization is a bit unfair. We are really more of a Jewish Community Center with a sanctuary than a proper synagogue. But the American nature of the JCC is hard to argue with, ne? Ne jannai!
JCC Members and Fellow Travelers emerge from a wide variety of national origins including of course a large Japanese contingent. Beyond Americans and Japanese however, it might surprise you that the third largest contingent hail from France and Wallonia, also known as French-speaking Belgium. Les juifs who abhor escargot but embrace L’as du Fallafel in Le Marais have found a comfortable spiritual home at the JCC. Just a month or so ago, a Friday night dinner included a Japanese-speaking table, an English-speaking table and lastly what might as well have been a meeting of the Académie Française.
In the early medieval period, French rabbis dominated the discourse of interpretation. If you pick up a copy of the Tanach/Hebrew Bible or Babylonian Talmud, the most prominent commentaries on the page are French rabbis like the 11th century Rashi and his grandsons Rashbam and Rabbeinu Tam, all of Troyes. A fierce debate as to whether Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin putting the egalité into egalitarian. French Jews have continued to shape our world, including the infamous Dreyfus Affair which led Theodor Herzl to believe that assimilated Jews would never be fully accepted in Europe giving birth to Zionism as we know it today.
As then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated following the 2015 terror attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris “France without Jews is not France.” What the PM failed to include is that Judaism without France is not Judaism. And most important of all at least to those of us in Japan, the JCC is not the JCC without French Jews. Vive la France and Happy Bastille Day to all those celebrating. Bonne fête nationale!
Friday, July 8th
Dinner with Reservation: 7:30pm
Shabbat Parshat Chukat
Kiddush sponsored by the Moss Family in honor of their imminent move to the Show-Me State.
We hope to, as Judy Garland so beautifully sang, meet [you] in St. Louis, Louis, meet [you] at the fair. Looking forward to dancing the Hoochee Coochie at Anika’s Bat Mitzvah.
Saturday, July 9th
JCC night out at Jingu Stadium to cheer on our beloved Yakult Swallows against the dreaded Chunichi Dragons will happen on Sunday, September 4th at 6:00pm. Continue checking the newsletter and your e-mail for when registration details will be finalized.
Condolences to the Pomer Family on the untimely loss of Bruce Pomer who tragically passed away this week in Tokyo. Bruce served as an integral JCC board member during the first years of the new building. May Mari and Maya be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Newsletter will be on hiatus during the rabbi’s home leave beginning next week. If you get this far down every week and think ‘eh I can do better than this drivel’ then by all means, reply to this e-mail and sign up. Nobody did last week. I don’t blame you.
Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Meetings have started monthly in-person at the JCJ. Please contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested to join. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club enjoys exploring Yiddish culture as well.
Shabbat Parshat Chukat
Candle Lighting: 6:42pm