Author Topic: Japanese Jewish History  (Read 1634 times)

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Japanese Jewish History
« on: September 17, 2007, 11:49:14 PM »
About half of Japan's Jews live in Tokyo, while the remainder is spread among a number of other cities. Japan's modern opening to The Western World in The 19th Century attracted many Jews to the country. The first Jewish settlers arrived in The 1850s on the eve of The Meiji Restoration, which set Japan's course towards the status of a major world power. Small numbers of Jews from The United Kingdom, The United States, and Central and Eastern Europe made their homes in Japan (especially in Yokohama and Nagasaki). Persecution in The Czarist Pale of Settlement encouraged many Russian Jews to migrate to China, and some continued on to Japan. After World War I, several thousand Jews were living in Japan, with the largest community in Kobe. In 1941, Japanese Consul General in Kaunus, Lithuania, Senpo Sugihara, helped German and Polish Jews that had escaped to Lithuania escape Europe. He issued 5,000 Japanese transit visas to these Jews. For this, he is honored at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem by a tree in The Garden of The Righteous. By The Early 1970s, 1,000 Jews lived in Japan, the majority in Tokyo and Yokohama. In The 1970s and 1980s, there was an influx of gaijin (foreign workers), which consequently increased the number of Jews living in Japan.

Tokyo has a synagogue which has a kosher kitchen which provides take-out food and Shabbat meals. The community maintains a Hebrew School, and holds classes for adolescents. A cultural center operated by The Israeli Embassy serves the community and educates members of the general public about Israel and Judaism.