HARTFORD (Sep. 8)
As many as 10,000 Japanese are seeking conversion to Judaism, Rabbi A.J. Feldman, spiritual leader of Beth Israel Temple here, has reported after returning from a 10-week tour of Torah Convocations in the Far East. Rabbi Feldman made the tour on behalf of the National Jewish Welfare Board’s Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy, of which he is executive chairman.
Explaining the new trend among Japanese, Rabbi Feldman stated he found that the war had “knocked out the spiritual props” which previously had been sufficient for many Japanese whom Shintoism taught that their country was invincible. As a result, many of them are turning to Judaism, bolstered to a great extent by the fact that American Jews, especially chaplains in the American armed services, had offered many kindnesses to the Japanese.
A great many Japanese, Rabbi Feldman reported, are learning Hebrew, and many are practicing Jewish rites. Jewish chaplains and rabbis, however, are “going slow” on accepting the would-be converts, he noted.
Rabbi Feldman, who is editor of the Jewish Ledger here, reported that he found that European Jews in Japan, Orthodox in their practice, had experienced little anti-Semitism in that country, except during World War II, when Japan was an ally of Hitler Germany.