As part of its rebuilding efforts in Japan following the March 2011 triple-headed disaster, JDC has facilitated the development of a cross-cultural, interfaith relationship between the Jewish Community of Japan (based in Tokyo) and the Komyogi (Buddhist) Temple in Oshu, Northern Japan.
A Jewish Community project to help repair the Temple evolved into a joint program to provide a respite for the beleaguered children of Rikuzentakata, a city devastated by the tsunami. By fostering children's activities, cross-cultural events, and exchanges among families, the idea was to provide a social outlet for children whose lives were upended, while giving members of the Jewish community an opportunity to connect in a tangible way with their fellow citizens in this hard-hit area.
The development of this relationship is reflected in a recent exchange of visits between community representatives. Two members of the Tokyo Jewish community visited Komyogi this fall to attend a gathering of some 400 people from the local area—an event at which both JDC and the Jewish community were honored for their post-disaster help.
And in December, Sato san, the head priest of Komyogi Temple, journeyed to Tokyo with four other Temple members to celebrate the Festival of Lights with some 140 local Jewish community members, lighting the menorah at the community's annual Chanukah party.
Despite transportation and school scheduling difficulties, leaders of both communities are determined to bring their children together for joint activities over the coming months. They recognize that fostering education and mutual understanding among members of the younger generation is the best way to expand this interfaith relationship and ensure its sustainability over the longer term.
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