JCC Newsletter – Nitzavim/Vayelech

JCC Newsletter – Nitzavim/Vayelech

Rahm Emanuel. Ken Weinstein (almost but not quite). John Roos. The previous three American administrations have all sent or tried to send Jewish ambassadors to Tokyo. The why behind those decisions remains a mystery. The recent move away from gefilte fish to sushi in the Jewish-American palette has been cited, at least at kiddush, as a possible reason. However, the individuals named above are far from the first high-ranking Jewish-American diplomats sent by the United States to Japanese shores, one of whom met a tragic end 100 years ago.

Less than two weeks before Rosh Hashana 5684, Max David Kirjasoff (1888-1923) and wife Alice Ballantine (1889-1923) were no doubt enjoying a cosmopolitan Taishō lifestyle in Yokohama where Max served as United States Consul. Born in St. Petersburg but brought to America when he was an infant, Max graduated Yale in 1910 and was quickly moving up the ranks of the foreign service, a feat made even impressive given his place of birth and religious heritage. Having distinguished himself in Dalian, China where he became tennis partners with the Soviet Union’s head of mission, 35-year-old Kirjasoff was on the diplomatic fast track. The sky was the limit for this young couple and their two boys, aged 7 and 4.

However, the tectonic plates undergirding Japan had other plans and in an instant on the morning of September 1st, 1923 the Kirjasoff family’s bright future was tragically extinguished in an instant, albeit thankfully sparing the children. The Warsaw Rabbinate directed their High Holiday sermons to urge collections for Japan’s orphans, including a special appeal by the Gerrer Rebbe to his Chasidim. Along with Percy Scheuer, a Cincinnati-born Jewish trader of Japanese goods, Max and Alice were laid to rest at Negishi Foreign Cemetery not far from the Jewish Section at Yokohama General Foreign Cemetery where a row of headstones conclude with the year 1923.

This High Holiday season on the 100th anniversary of the Great Kantō Earthquake, we commemorate all the victims who lost their lives, young and old, Japanese and foreign-born, Jewish and Gentile. We are in touch with the descendants of both the Kirjasoffs and Scheuers so that the final resting place of their ancestors receives a visit before Yom Kippur with the appropriate prayers and psalms recited at the graveside. May their memories be for a blessing.


Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, September 8th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner by reservation: 7:00pm

Erev Rosh Hashanah
Friday, September 15th
Services: 6:30pm
Dinner with reservation: 7:30pm

Rosh Hashanah Day 1
Saturday, September 16th
Morning Service: 9:00am
Lunch with reservation: 1:00pm
Evening Service: 18:00
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm

Rosh Hashanah Day 2
Sunday, September 17th
Morning Service: 9:00am
Lunch with reservation: 1:00pm
Tashlich at Arisugawa Park (across from National Azabu Supermarket): Meet at the Bridge over the Pond by the front entrance: 16:00

Kabbalat Shabbat Shuva
Friday, September 22nd
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm

Erev Yom Kippur
Sunday, September 24th
Before-the-fast meal with reservation: 3:45pm
Kol Nidre: 6:00pm

Yom Kippur
Monday, September 25th
Services: 9:00am
Yizkor: 11:30am
Mincha and Neilah: 4:00pm
Break-the-fast cakes, soft drinks, coffee and tea (all invited): 6:15pm
Break-the-fast meal with reservation: 6:30pm

Erev Sukkot
Friday, September 29th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Sukkot Day 1
Saturday, September 30th
Services: 10:00
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:30pm
Maariv Services: 6:00pm
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Sukkot Day 2
Hebrew School Family Service
Sunday, October 1st
Services: 9:30
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:00pm

Shmini Atzeret Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, October 6th
Services: 6:00pn
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Shmini Atzeret Shabbat Service with Yizkor
Saturday, October 7th
Services: 10:00
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:30pm

Erev Simchat Torah Service
Saturday, October 7th
Services and Dancing with the Torah: 6:00pm
Pizza, refreshments and drinks


Gernsheim Duo Classical Music Concert
Anna Gann, soprano, and Naoko Christ-Kato, piano, will perform live at the JCJ works by respected German-Jewish composers whose works were largely lost and forgotten in the Holocaust. They are dedicated to ensuring these works are not lost to future generations.
Thursday, October 5th at 7pm at the JCC
Registration Details

“Masha the Rich Man”
Maria Raykhman, Ukrainian-German singer/artist, performing live with her autoharp. More info and recordings here:
Thursday, October 19th at 7:30pm at the JCC
Registration Details

JCJ Platinum 70th Anniversary
Saturday, November 11th in the evening
Featuring 70s music, food and cocktails

If you have an idea for an event or a topic you would like to share with others, please visit our website.


We are officially in overtime for High Holidays sign-up on our website https://jccjapan.jp/high-holidays-2023/. If you haven’t reserved yet, now is the time. Our beloved Chazzan Yoni is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. This being our first High Holidays since 2019 with tourism reopened, we are getting slammed by the allergy requests of American tourists. We will do our best to accommodate. Ganbarimasu!

Thank you to everyone who came out to watch the Swallows get walloped 7-1 including a pinch-hit dinger by Yoshihiro Akahane. Kudos to Adam Brownstein and the Events Committee for organizing. JCJ Night at the Ballpark is now 0-2 meaning next year we’re due for a win.

There is talk of a Shvitz and Shtaig at a Super Sento. If the idea of learning Torah in a hot springs environment (although not in the ofuro proper) sounds appealing or at the very least not completely sacrilegious, please reply to this e-mail with your onsen/sento recommendations.

Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Please contact Jack at jack@cjki.org if you are interested to join. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club’s monthly meetings explore Yiddish culture as well.

Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim/Vayelech
Candle Lighting: 5:41pm
Havdala: 6:37pm