Japanese find inspiration in life story of Israeli founder of non-profit for disabled

Rabbi Kalman Samuels’ memoir about his son - rendered blind and deaf during infancy - has received international acclaim; recently in Japan.

Tags: Japan Shalva
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Rabbi Samuels with Japanese ambassador
Rabbi Samuels with Japanese ambassador
Shalva

Rabbi Kalman Samuels’ memoir about his son, who was rendered blind and deaf during infancy, has received international acclaim. Most recently it was published in Japanese, circulated among Japanese government officials, and sold in bookstores across the country.

“I am very delighted and moved to visit the Shalva Center and I am looking forward to reading Kalman Samuels’ book,” said Japanese Ambassador to Israel Koichi Mizushima following his visit with Samuels. “I am grateful to Shalva for the opportunity to come and see this amazing center and their work from up close.”

Samuels' memoir called "Dreams Never Dreamed", tells the story of his son Yossi who was injured during infancy and became blind, deaf, and acutely hyperactive and the incredible account of his breakthrough to communication which inspired the development of Shalva, established by Samuels and his wife Malki that has become one of the largest centers for disability care around the world. The $70 million Shalva National Center serves thousands of people with disabilities and is an internationally recognized leader in the field of disability care with inclusion projects, like the Shalva Band, inspiring millions across the globe.

Today, a Japanese delegation, headed by Japan’s Ambassador Mizushima and Rabbi Abraham Cooper Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, visited the Shalva Center in Jerusalem to meet Kalman Samuels and to experience first-hand his life’s work which has inspired many Japanese readers, among them prominent activists and policy makers. The Japanese delegation also met Yossi Samuels, holding an inspiring conversation with the boy, mediated with the help of sign language.

“It is all about making connections,” says Rabbi Cooper. “The fact that a Japanese Ambassador is coming to visit an Israeli non-profit for disability care is an important milestone. I believe it is just the beginning of various partnerships and exchange of knowledge between Israel and Japan in this field.”

Samuels’ memoir was translated to Japanese by Kinue Tokudome, a Japanese writer and human rights activist who was inspired by her visit to Shalva in 2019. Tokudome says there is a great deal to learn from Shalva's pioneering role in advancing the care and inclusion of people with disabilities and believes that the people of Japan will find important relevance in the book's messages of hope and human dignity.

After translating Samuels’ book on her own initiative, Tokudome tweeted about it on her Jews and Japan Twitter feed. The Japanese version of Samuels’ book was published by Japan-based publisher Isaku Taniuchi earlier this month and is now available in bookstores and online around the country.



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