Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2015

Israel/Palestine, the Church, Beauty, and Belief

This is the second installment in a blog series about a 2014 trip I took with my church to Israel/Palestine. The first is here:  Israel/Palestine and Japanese/Jewish/ChristianAmerican Identity . I was asked to stay off the radar about the trip, because my agency was implicated in upcoming General Assembly business regarding Israel/Palestine. When you’re national staff, you can’t have any opinions on or comment about business before the assembly. Additionally, since the church was going to discuss divesting from three companies doing business with military implications in Israel, the whole thing was a tinderbox. I made arrangements with my spouse that I would send brief apolitical updates and photos by email, which my spouse would post on a private document for only invited friends and family to see. It was smart to lay low. Any time anyone on our trip made a misstep and posted something about “Israel” without saying “Palestine,” we were reminded on social medi

Israel/Palestine and Japanese/Jewish/Christian American Identity

This blog series has been almost a year in the making, precipitated by my visit to Israel/Palestine in May 2014 as a small group leader on the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program's Mosaic of Peace trip. For years, I have been wrestling with the implications of my identity, my nationality, and my religion when it comes to the region. My identity: My father’s family is white Jewish, originally from Eastern Europe, specifically Poland, Lithuania, and the Ukraine, perhaps even Russia. Some fled pogroms and other persecution, and maybe others just wanted a new life. Each family member has her or his own unique story. Under the U.S. definition of race and ethnicity, I am considered ethnically Ashkenazi Jewish of the American persuasion just as much as I am considered ethnically Japanese American. Both ethnic groups have very diverse ways of living out those identities, and while I’m not a unicorn, I might be a more extreme example of that diversity of ethnic identity. I’m aware t