Friday, June 01, 2007

A New Jew On The Block

by: Schvach Yid

And thank Gd! Yesterday, carried an article that made me schmerchel from ear to ear.

Rabbi Moshe Hatori, a Japanese national, started out a s a ‘Christian priest’ (the religion was not specified), then found Judaism. He converted, made aliya, became a chochem on the teachings of the Vilna Gaon, was awarded s’mecha, and now lives a life of Torah and mitzvot in Israel. How utterly cool ! The on-line article, titled ‘Ruth’s Story – The Japanese Version’, by Gabby Newman (,7340,L-3404488,00.html), includes a video interview of the rabbi, whose Hebrew sounds almost faultlessly Israeli (he’s a bright guy!).

What a mechaiya! I love these sorts of stories about people from ‘far-off’ places (my view as a native New Yorker – we have a reputation for provincialism) either discovering Judaism by themselves, or else being ‘discovered’ by Jews who dwell in well established and populous Jewish communities. Such individuals lend me a sense of worth about my Jewish identity.

The more usual treatment, in my experience, by the non-Jewish world is one of criticism and denigration. It takes all sorts of forms, but in every such encounter I’ve been left with the feeling that I’ve just been required to justify my existence. I’ve been called a ‘Jew boy’ to my face. When asked about Jewish theology, the two Hindu co-workers of mine (both have Ph.D.’s) told me, as they turned and walked away, that Judaism ‘got it’ from Hinduism. Many times - too many – Christian co-workers have asserted that Judaism copies their religion,
especially in matters of kindness, or better yet, that Jews know nothing of it. My mother’s cousin’s wife – British – intoned, on their visit from
England –‘isn’t it a pity that the Jews never came to accept Jesus’; better read as ‘isn’t it a pity that Jews and Judaism continue to exist’. Perhaps she failed to remember that her husband is a Jewish convert to her religion, and wound up in England from his native Vienna thanks to the Jew hatred of the 1930’s. This little scene played out on a Yom Kippur to boot!

An author of books on the world’s religions has stated in both writing and interviews that Judaism has taken much of its religious content from both Christianity and Islam. She even referred to the ‘trivial’ nature of mikveh and then compared it to the ‘significance’ of baptism.

The occasional off-handed remarks made by the late, great Joseph Campbell are just as offensive.

Insults by the emulators and critics of Judaism are mainstays of the wannabe mentality. And so, when I have the rare pleasure of reading an article like the one just posted by I schmerchel, for learning about people such as Rabbi Hatori serves as an emotional counterweight to the usual experiences I’ve suffered in this realm.

Congratulations to the Jewish community for the enrichment provided by Rabbi Hatori’s contribution to our lives, and shalom v’brochot to Rabbi Hatori.


Soccer Dad said...

I agree with you. I love these stories. It reminds me of this one.

Jack Steiner said...

Good post. These stories are quite heartwarming.

Schvach said...

Thank you soccer dad and jack's shack. The old saying goes: 'it's not easy being a Jew'. No kidding!

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