Yuki is a Japanese-born single mom. She has managed to raise her nine-year-old son Abi alone, after overcoming the sudden tragic death of her Jewish-American husband in San Francisco when Abi was just a baby. She is also a writer, surfer, foodie and someone who has created a space for her little family to thrive in.
Abi and Yuki live in San Francisco nine months of the year, visit her family in Japan for about two months and spend about a month on the East coast visiting her American in-laws.
Yuki raises Abi as a bilingual English/Japanese speaker. She speaks to him only in Japanese. Abi attends a public school in San Francisco. Yuki also sends Abi to a Jewish school, even though she is not Jewish. She celebrates Jewish festivities when her in-laws visit. My family experienced our first Passover seder at Yuki’s when her mother-in-law came to visit.
When I asked her why she was raising Abi Jewish, she told me, “I think children are like seeds. It is your responsibility as parents to feed those seeds and help them grow. I think that the more cultures and languages people are exposed to, the more chances there will be that they will grow up wanting peace, as they will be able to understand each other better.”
Another reason why she is raising Abi with Judaism is to keep a part of her husband alive in her son and preserve the culture and religion he would have wanted to pass on to his son.
After her husband’s passing, Yuki lived for sometime with her mother-in-law on the East coast. Coming from an introverted culture, it was like a therapy for her to interact in such a direct way with her mother-in-law. Yuki said that if her husband were present, she would have never gotten to know her mother-in-law as well. They now have conversations that last until 4 am when they visit each other!
Yuki learned that only when you try to see the other person’s point of view, even if different than yours, can you understand them. That understanding is what leads to empathy, tolerance and peace. Yuki believes that the more languages and cultures you expose your kids to, the more opportunities you create for them to grow up wanting peace.