Tuesday, May 19, 2009
New York City Celebrates Asian-American Heritage
Here at the Museum, Asian and Jewish cultures have been known to come together beautifully in our exhibitions. My favorite artifact currently on display is an invitation to a baby naming for Jamie Jaye Qing Qing Malka Leah Levine—a big name for a little person, but with reason. Jamie was born in China, but was adopted by a Jewish family in the United States in 2001. Her parents wished to honor her Chinese, Jewish, and American heritage by giving her a name that combined English, Chinese, and Hebrew.
Another artifact, a visa in English, Japanese, French, Russian, and Lithuanian, pertains to Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat serving in Lithuania. Chiune, along with his wife Yukiko, personally wrote travel visas that saved the lives of an estimated 6,000-10,000 Jews. Some say (including Yukiko) that this altruistic deed cost the rising diplomat his position with the Japanese government. When asked why he risked so much to save strangers, Sugihara said “Even a hunter cannot kill a bird which flies to him for refuge.” Around 2,200 of these refugees settled in Kobe, Japan. Friend of the Museum and journalist Masha Leon was among them and described living in Japan as “like heaven.” He was honored by the Israel government as one of the Righteous Among Nations in 1985, one year before his death.