JCC Newsletter – Shlach

Saturday’s Bar Mitzvah of Theo Daquin will round out our six B’nai Mitzvah in eight weeks extravaganza. All are welcome for what promises to be an exciting culmination of the Class of 5783.

From the time of Charlemagne, the Daquin family has been tethered to Gaul. The World Cup edition of the JCC newsletter already addressed France’s love-hate relationship with its Juifs so instead of a broad overview, let’s focus on the Frenchman who singlehandedly changed Jewish history more than any other in the last millennium, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Little Boney, as 19th Century Brits called him, sought to integrate (or assimilate depending on how you look at it) the Jewish community into the larger nations he would conquer, starting of course in France.

Step 1: Reestablish the Grand Sanhedrin as the Jewish high court
Step 2: Create a centralized, hierarchical authority called the Consistoire to administer Jewish worship and congregations
Step 3: Free the Jews and make them just like every other Frenchmen

The downside? Napoleon’s intended effect was to curb usury, hitherto prohibited only to Catholics. Although now more able to participate in society, government and the military, French Jews paid for the privilege by sacrificing one of their main sources of income. Such was the backlash against the ‘Infamous Decree’ that a decade later, post-Waterloo and the Bourbon Restoration, King Louis XVIII’s decision to allow the prohibition to lapse earned him the sobriquet ‘Liberator of Jews’ (to lend money on interest).

Napoleon so liked his playbook that he repeated it in every land he conquered, emancipating Jewish communities across Europe much to the chagrin of the Great Powers. Austrian Chancellor Metternich remarked “I fear that the Jews will believe Napoleon to be their promised Messiah.” The intracommunal repercussions of Jewish emancipation however could not have been foreseen by the diminutive general.

Jews’ newfound ability to take on the citizenship of a nation-state led to a fevered debate among rabbis, intellectuals and the community as to what extent national identity would displace Jewish identity. Differing responses to that question led to the creation of religious denominations for the first time in Jewish history. Today’s Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox and Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) movements came into beingly largely through Napoleon’s meddling. Want proof? Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews from North Africa and the Middle East, mostly untouched by the Napoleonic Wars, have still not taken on denominational identities. Until today, dividing the Jewish community into levels of religious observance exists solely in the Ashkenazi world.

Historically, Tokyo took the Sephardi approach despite our distinctly Ashkenazi roots. In celebrating Theo’s Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat, we will strive for a pre-Napoleonic emancipation united Jewish experience that pays homage to the Daquin family’s well-traveled roots in (deep breath) France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Austria, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine (pre-1948), Egypt, the US and of course Japan. Thankfully, Theo found a French-Sephardi Bar Mitzvah tutor in Amos Sitbon, without having to rely on the rabbi’s Lawng Island Ashkenazi pronunciation for his parasha. Please enhance the Bar Mitzvah simcha by joining us for services and a robust kiddush lunch to celebrate. Mazal Tov!


Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, June 16th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner by Reservation: 7:00pm

Shabbat Parshat Shlach
Bar Mitzvah of Theo Daquin
Saturday, June 17th
Services: 10:00am
Kiddush: 12:15pm


JCJ Night at the Ballpark
Yakult Swallows vs Hanshin Tigers
Sunday, September 3rd 6:00pm
Jingu Stadium
Registration Details Forthcoming

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.


Prada Aoyama is featuring the work of famed Jewish-American artist Dara Birnbaum through August 28th. The exhibition is free. The air is free. Everything else at Prada you will find is very much not free.

The JCC (and newsletter) will be on summer intersession beginning June 19th, restarting in late August.

Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Monthly meetings have been taking place for quite some time in-person at the JCJ. Please contact Jack at jack@cjki.org if you are interested. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club enjoys exploring Yiddish culture as well.

Shabbat Parshat Shlach
Candle Lighting: 6:40pm
Havdala: 7:44pm