Monday, September 14, 2009

A time to break down, and a time to build up

There is a sense of impermanence here in Japan, a feeling shared by many of its citizens.
Things change, move, die, are reborn.
Old trees can be uprooted without much guilt, buildings are torn down every 30 years or so, stuff is thrown away periodically.
There is even a whole Shinto shrine that has been dismantled every 20 years and rebuilt exactly in the same way in the same place for the last 1600 years.
And also the Jews of Japan have torn down the old building of their community center and rebuilt a new one, modern, linear, essential, peaceful, full of light. The third one since the community was established.
We have a mikveh, several classrooms, a great library, lounges, and most of all we have a beautiful synagogue, made of American wood, Italian marble, Jerusalem stone, all perfectly blended together to create this space designed by Mr. Fumihiko Maki, a famous Japanese architect.
I haven't been able to decide if Mr. Maki's design for our shul represents a tent, Abraham's and Sarah's tent, that welcomed everyone inside, or if it's like branches of a tree, a עץ חיים, that wraps every individual without discrimination.
Whichever one it is I'm the lucky one who has inaugurated it last week.

1 comment:

Murray said...

Yet we Jews revere permanence. Our Tanach, Talmud, Rabbinic literature builds on the past without tearing down and throwing out... only refining and attempting to serve as a foundation for the next generation. And each, the Jew and the Japanese, despite this disparity, is a people that have survived over millenia. So who's right? Only G-d knows and he's not telling.

But perhaps this fortunatae juxtaposition of Jew observing this society with the skills of vision and language will allow us to see the merits of both.