LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
by Erica Lyons
This past month I was invited to speak at The United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong before a group of women for their monthly Rosh Chodesh gathering.They asked me to speak about the vision behind Asian Jewish Life.
In preparation for the evening, I outlined what I wanted to cover which forced me to really reexamine Asian Jewish Life’s mission. Reflecting on how it all started, I realized that the attack on Mumbai played a significant role behind my drive to see this project get off the ground. The attack unified Jews in Hong Kong and Jews in other communities in a way that had rarely been seen before.
In the days of watching the events unfold and the communal mourning period that followed, I saw how inextricably linked we were as Jews. Though we hail from seemingly different backgrounds, Diaspora Jews and Israelis, secular and Orthodox, young and old, our lives are inextricably intertwined.
Any Jew living in Asia could immediately connect with the Holzbergs obm. We all have been touched by members of our own community who are so like them. We all ‘knew them’. It is this interconnectedness of Jewish Asia that I wanted to convey in AJL.
The readership of Asian Jewish Life, however, is already growing far beyond just reaching those of us that live in Asia. E-mails and Facebook messages flood in from Jews married to Asians, Jews whose families made Asia home sometime ago, Asian children adopted by Jewish families and children with one Asian parent and one Jewish parent. AJL has clearly hit a nerve. As one Facebooker responded, “Nice to know there are others like me.”
This issue our Cover Story is the remarkable story of the creation of the Israeli Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo and how it is really part of a journey of architect Haim Dotan’s search for his family’s roots in Shanghai. Taking us through India into the world of the Bene Ephraim, is Bonita Sussman in her piece India Journal. We also go to Myanmar for an in-depth Q&A with the Israeli Ambassador to Myanmar, Yaron Mayer.
On a more somber note, we include a photo essay marking the launch of ZAKA Hong Kong, Macau, & China. Additionally, journalist Michael Fox has written a thought provoking Viewpoint piece on Japan, the Death Penalty and Judaism.
This issue also includes an interview with author Mike Levy, who recently published a book, Kosher Dog Meat, that chronicles his experience as a Jew in the Peace Corp in a remote province of China. Other features in this issue include a memoir, A Palate Grows in Brooklyn, by Sandi Butchkiss, and a touching essay, Learning to Speak- A cross-cultural love story by Tracy Slater.
The popular Expat Diary is back with a look at life raising a Jewish child in Cambodia, by Craig Gerard, as well as Places I Love, a travel-geared section that gives personalities a chance to tell readers about their favorite places in Asia and Israel.
We would love to hear from you to know what types of articles you particularly enjoy and what types of articles you would like to see. This is meant to be a collective reflection of all of our experiences.
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