LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
|Erica Lyons Editor-in-Chief|
Welcome to the 17th issue of AsianJewish Life. As I write this letter I ampreparing to attend the World JewishCongress Plenary in Buenos Aires,Argentina. Living in the Far East, Jewsfind themselves somewhat ‘off the radar’and a bit disconnected from the majorarteries of Jewish life. I am excited foryet another opportunity to help betterconnect our communities with the greaterJewish world and also for the chanceto share with them some of the uniquecontributions that Jews have made in ourregion.
In this issue, we will take a general tourof the region touching on Shanghai, HongKong, Japan and India. As it happens,many of the stories touch on World War II,but the experience of Jews in the regionwas very different from those in Europe.
As promised, we have featured a piecethat focuses on Jews who sought refugein India during the Holocaust. Dr. ShalvaWeil brings us The Walter KaufmannStory – The Exile Who Invented All-IndiaRadio’s Signature Tune.
Also out of India, Navras Jaat Aafreedibrings us The Jews of Bollywood-HowJews Established the World’s LargestFilm Industry. It is a wonderfully detailedaccount of the Jewish contribution tothe industry. The piece is enhanced byincredible photographic postcards fromStephanie Comfort’s extensive collection.
But the story that absolutely has to betold in this issue is that of the passing ofIndia’s Lt Gen JFR Jacob. While the storypredominated Indian and Jewish mediain the days that followed his death, it wasa Facebook post that touched me. Whensomeone in the public eye, in this case adecorated Indian war hero, it is somewhateasy to dissociate them from their privatelife. Jael Silliman, an academic, authorand friend, posted a simple messagealong with her links to various mediaarticles, “Rest in Peace, Uncle Jackie”. Avery special thank you to Jael for sharingher personal story in Rest in Peace,Uncle Jackie – Personal Reflection on thePassing of Lt Gen JFR Jacob.
The Cover Art is the work of talentedIsraeli, Bene Israel artist MichaelKolet. Thank you to Nissim Moses forintroducing us to Michael Kolet’s art andfor your continuous efforts to preserveand promote Bene Israel culture.
We have also included Autobiographyof Magen Abraham Synagogue,Ahmedabad. This beautiful poem,by Edward Rubens, is an emotionallook at the significance of the MagenAbraham Synagogue. Magen Abraham,built in 1934, is the only synagogue inAhmedabad, India.
Moving from India and into China, wehave two Writer’s Desk pieces thatperfectly compliment one another.Faith Beckerman Goldman shares herhusband’s story of a boyhood spentas a refugee in Shanghai in A Journeyof a Thousand Miles -The Start of MyShanghai Bob’s Story. In presenting thestory of her quest to tell her late husbandRobert Goldman’s story, she referenceshis friendship with Fredy Seidel. We havealso chosen to feature Fredy Seidel’sfirst person account of those tumultuousyears in Journey to the Other Side ofthe World. Fredy Seidel’s forthcomingmemoir, Shanghai, Before and After theFall-Caught Between Two Chairs, will bepublished late summer or early fall 2016by iUniverse.
And on the topic of memoir, our authorinterview features Tracy Slater, authorof the beautifully written memoir TheGood Shufu. The interview, On Writing,Love and Judaism in Japan, was conductedby Melissa Uchiyama whose owntouching and intimate piece was featuredin Issue 16.
Book Reviews have been contributedby Susan Blumberg-Kason. No WastedWords is a unique look at two verydifferent Jewish experiences in China.
And lastly, we present A Look at HongKong’s Military Cemeteries – An Effort toRecord Lost Jewish History. I contributedto this research along with Howard Elias,Marc Ellison and Alistaire Hayman. Thisis by no means a complete history. It ispart of an ongoing collaborative effort toremember and record our community’sunique history.
As always, thank you for reading. Hopingyou find much joy in the month of Adar.
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