Japanese Hero’s Son Honored at the Mirrer Yeshiva


nobuki-sugiharaBrooklyn, NY – A special gathering was held in the Mirrer Yeshiva of Brooklyn to express hakaras hatov to Mr. Nobuki Sugihara, the son of Mr. Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Ambassador at the onset of WW II who was instrumental in saving the Mirrer Yeshiva during the Holocaust.

In order to appreciate this meeting, we must go back in time and review some historical information. As is well known, the Mirrer Yeshiva was the only Yeshiva that was saved in its totality during World War II. Many miracles occurred that helped that the Yeshiva moved all of its talmidim to the Far East, staying in Kobe, Japan and later on in Shanghai, China, for a number of years until the end of World War II.

The shaliach, emissary, who helped to save the Yeshiva was none other than a Japanese diplomat named Mr. Chiune Sugihara, who had mercy on these talmidim, despite disobeying his Government who were allies with the Germans. At great personal sacrifice, he helped to provide them and their Rebbeim with life saving visas, which enabled them to travel through Russia and eventually to Shanghai.

R’ Josh Mehlman, a member of the Board of Directors of the Mirrer Yeshiva chaired the event, and noted that nowadays, it is common for us to hear the term “Hero” used in so many different ways, which are not always appropriate. In contrast, a true hero is a person that demonstrates courage and fortitude to do things that are correct morally and ethically even at their personal expense.

In the case of Mr. Sugihara, the title “Hero” is truly appropriate. His sacrifice to help save the Mirrer Yeshiva and thousands of others put his career and perhaps even his life in jeopardy. The actions of Mr. Sugihara helped indirectly to give a Torah Chinuch for thousands of talmidim, who learned from the Rebbeim and Yeshivos established by the students of the “Alter Mir”.

The gathering was addressed by the Roshei Yeshiva, Horav Osher Kalmanowitz, Horav Avrohom Yaakov Nelkenbaum, Horav Asher Berenbaum, and Horav Hershel Zolty; as well as Rav Eliezer Ginsburg, Rosh HaKollel, who was born in Shanghai, China; Rav Moshe Walkin, a student of the Mir who lived in Shanghai; Rav Yeruchum Leshinsky, R”M in the Yeshiva, who was born in Kobe, Japan; Dr Chaim Cohen, whose wife was born in Shanghai and whose grandfather was the Rov of Shanghai; Rabbi Yehoshua Nacham, whose parents lived in Shanghai and was a R”M in the Yeshiva, Rabbi Moshe Soltan, whose father was a Mir talmid in Shanghai, Mr. Dov Fishoff, whose father was in Shanghai, and Mr. Stanley Smith, who worked with Horav Avrohom Kalmanowitz ZT”L on assisting the Yeshiva.

The speakers expounded upon the importance of realizing the monumental impact of the actions of Mr. Chiune Sugihara. His decision to rescue the Mirrer Yeshiva students and faculty not only saved these individuals but ensured the unbroken chain of the Mesorah that continues in the Mirrer Yeshiva today, as well as their students and descendants .The Mirrer Yeshiva is a foundation in rebuilding Torah after the traumatic loss of so many Talmidei Chachomim and Yeshivos during the Holocaust.

They noted the hashgacha peratis that allowed Mr. Chiune Sugihara from amongst billions of people in the world, to be the Shaliach to save so many Jews and with them the Torah learning they would disseminate, and how one person’s actions can effect directly and indirectly many generations to come. After the presentation, a visibly emotional Mr. Sugihara stated how happy his father would have been upon this occasion, seeing how the descendants of those he saved are flourishing and continuing their tradition.

State Senator Simcha Felder expressed appreciation on behalf of the State of New York. He remarked that he was personally moved by experiencing this genuine outpouring of emotion and gratitude. Rabbi Pinchos Hecht thanked Mr. Cary Rothbart of Toronto, Canada, who helped orchestrate this meeting.

A plaque presented to Mr. Sugihara appropriately quoted the Tanna Hillel, who said, “Kesheani Leatzmi Mah Ani”: “If I am to myself who am I.” Mr. Sugihara seized the moment in history, selfishly, at his own peril, which enabled him to save so many lives, and this made all the difference. This story of heroic rescue enabled the continuation of the Mirrer Yeshiva legacy of Torah and Chesed for over 200 years.

{Gavriel Sitrit-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Those of you who have never lived in Japan cannot fully appreciate the sacrifice of Mr. Sugihara. He became persona non grata in the rigid, class-stratified society of his time. (It is perhaps somewhat less severe today, but that can be deceptive.) The hashgacha pratis from HaKadosh Baruch Hu is well evidenced by this “turn of history”.