LETTER FROM THE EDITOR / MISSION
by Erica Lyons
Welcome to Issue 12 of Asian Jewish Life and welcome to the long days of summer. This is slightly different from others as it offers an extremely personal and intimate look into the lives of several incredible Jews in Asia. First, we have extended our poetry section to allow for a four-page spread featuring the poetry of Yosl Mlotek. These poems, printed with permission from the Mlotek family, were written by Mlotek between 1941-1943 in the Shanghai ghetto in the Hongkou District of Shanghai where he lived among nearly 17,000 other Jewish Holocaust refugees.
Connecting past to present, we bring a Traveler’s Diary piece by Shaun Goldstone, a JDC Ralph I. Goldman Fellow, An Unexpected Encounter in Shanghai. He writes about meeting two women whose mixed Chinese-Jewish identities left them behind when the stateless Jewish refugees eventually left Shanghai.
They however, of course, are not alone in being the children of a marriage between Jews and Asians. In this issue was also have included two very different stories from Jewish women who both call Japan home and have married Japanese men. The cover art is representative of the beautiful love story and courtship between artist Liane Wakabayashi and her husband, Aki. In Becoming the Wagamam Bride - The beginning of the story she gives us the introduction to her forthcoming memoir. In our next issue, we will again hear from Liane on the trajectory of her Jewish journey. We also hear from Leza Lowitz who talks about her and her Japanese husband’s decision to adopt in Japan. Her story, Mazel Tov, Yuto - Welcome to the tribe, is an excerpt from a longer essay on adoption. The piece beautifully blends the Japanese and Jewish identities they have given their son.
Also discussing blended identities and trajectories of Jewish connectivity, we hear from So-Fan Han in Just a Chinese Jew and his Tefillin. So-Fan wrote a beautifully moving piece, My Two Diasporas-On being Jewish and Chinese for AJL in Issue 10.
Also beautifully blending identities, this time in the kitchen, we have included a recipe for Kosher Pad Thai by Allaya Fleischer. The recipe shows how even the most complex of Asian flavors can be adapted into a kosher recipe.
But our collaboration doesn’t end with flavors. We have worked with Segula magazine and are jointly co-publishing Two-Gun Cohen, by Sara Jo Ben Zvi, both in our current issues. It appears in AJL as The Extraordinary Adventures of Two-Gun Cohen.
Sometimes it is nice, though, to stay with the familiar. In that vein, we have of course, included Book Reviews by Susan Blumberg-Kason. Susan also interviews author Dana Sachs this issue in Penned with an Easterly Perspective, focusing on her new book The Secret of the Nightingale Palace but also discusses her four previous books, all four of which were set in Vietnam.
Tiberiu Weisz has also returned again to continue his series comparing and contrasting Jewish and Chinese wisdom. In this issue, Tiberiu discusses Derech Eretz and the Confucian Way- A study of roots and inextricable links.
Lastly, in case you missed it, AJL was awarded a New Media Award from Bechol Lashon. Their write-up included in part, that AJL “represents the best of what Jewish media can be in the 21st century.” Thanks again to Bechol Lashon for the tremendous honor.
We have also been awarded a Natan grant which, as a non-profit, is essential for allowing us to continue the work we are doing. We are grateful.
And we have more great news. Susan-Blumberg Kason, AJL’s Books Editor, has a publishing contract for her memoir, Good Chinese Wife, with the publisher Sourcebooks. The forthcoming memoir’s publication date is Spring 2014.
Enjoy! Have a great summer.