Adath Jeshurun will present the Louisville premier of the Japanese Choir singing Jewish Music on Thursday, November 3, at 7 p.m. at AJ.
Five years ago in Toronto, I was asked to sing My Yiddishe Mame in a concert for the Cantors Convention. That was not particularly notable. The choir that sang with me was. They were a Japanese choir of Christian Friends of Israel aka Beit Shalom Japan. One of their core beliefs is that world peace will prevail only after peace is established in Jerusalem.
Known as Makhelat HaShachar (Shinonome Choir or Choir of Dawn), they are 35 male and female singers selected from some 100 nation-wide local church choirs which, since 1971, has toured 17 times in Israel and North America, bringing their love of music and the Jewish people with them in harmony sung in Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Japanese.
The roots of Japan Christian Friends of Israel (known to Israelis as “Beit Shalom”) can be traced back to the experiences of the late Rev. Takeji Otsuki in 1938 in north eastern China. He experienced a revelation which led him to pray for the independence of the State of Israel, for its spiritual restoration and redemption, and the peace of Jerusalem.
After World War II ended on January 5, 1946, Father Otsuki founded his group, “Japan Christian Friends of Israel.”
Today, JCFI have 100 churches and nearly 10,000 members throughout Japan.
In 1962, Father Otsuki met an Israeli couple for the first time. Through this meeting, the relations between Israelis and JCFI gained momentum. The relationship reached an apex when the late Father Takeji Otsuki was honored in 1998 by the municipal assembly of Jerusalem as a “Ne’eman Yerushalayim” (Loyal to Jerusalem), the highest degree of honorary citizenship of Jerusalem. Further, in 2003, Bar Ilan University awarded Father Otsuki a doctor honoris causa.
The concert at AJ will feature a community choir joining the Japanese one for Shehecheyanu as well as cameo solos by Cantors Sharon Hordes of Keneseth and me.
Tickets are $5 and can be ordered online at adathjeshurun.com/japanese, by phone during office hours at 458-5359 or purchased at the door.
A light dessert reception will follow the concert.