by Jason Krowitz & Sara Reed
Earlier this month, the two of us along with NSW Shaliach Dudu Gottlib, had the privilege of travelling to Tokyo to take part in a Jewish teen retreat, hosted by the Japanese Jewish Community Synagogue. The chanichim had too crossed countries for the event, travelling from Hong Kong, Singapore and northern Tokyo. We were also joined by the Rabbi from the Singapore Jewish community, as well as Shanghai and Hong Kong based madrichot. No doubt being a melting pot of customs and culture, we both participated in and lead peulot throughout the weekend, providing us equally with wonderful educational and leadership experiences. The Jewish community in Tokyo largely consists of ex-pats and military based families, which is similar to the other Asian communities that joined us.
With both strong reform and masorti ties, the Friday night service and following Kiddush was beautifully led by Rabbi Kunin , which was followed with a ‘getting to know you’ program run by the two of us. This marked the official beginning of the teen retreat, and allowed both us and the chanichim to properly get to know each other, and have some great kef simultaneously.
Following the Shabbat morning service, which included a beautiful Bat Mitzvah ceremony, we ran a leadership peula for the chanichim in the afternoon. With aims to tie today’s current political climate with their abilities to enact leadership in their local communities, the chanichim were extremely engaged and clearly enjoyed the non-formal educational style of peulot Netzer traditionally employs. The rest of the day consisted of a tour of Tokyo’s Harajuku district, ending with an identity program run by us.
Our final day of the retreat was equally engaging, as the community welcomed Kunin, a member of the Israeli consulate in Tokyo, who had in depth discussions with the chanichim surrounding Zionism and Israel’s relationship with Japan.
With a swift passing of time it was time to say goodbye to the chanichim flying back to their respective homes. It was a truly eye-opening experience being able to form connections with such wonderful communities across Asia, and meet such extremely mature, socially active and empowered chanichim.
We can only hope connections and opportunities grow from here, and that this will only be the beginning of such formative experiences between Netzer Australia and the Asian Jewish communities.
Until next time,
Jason Krowitz and Sara Reed