Seven years ago, Shmuel Vishedsky got a call from the chief rabbi of Japan to fill the position of head rabbi for the Jewish Community of Kansai. Rabbi Vishedsky packed up with his family, said goodbye to his parents and friends, and arrived in Kobe two weeks later. Ever since then, he has been the religious leader of Kobe and Kansai’s small, historic and tight-knit Jewish community, and will lead the community in services this Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, which lasts from Dec. 10 through 18.

1. Why did you decide to become a rabbi? After I got married, I told my wife that I wanted to help people in need and suggested to her that I wanted to become a rabbi, to which she agreed. I was already trained in rabbinical studies, but needed a bit more studying to be ordained. I have been a rabbi ever since.

2. Is it difficult to be an observant Jew in Japan? It is not easy to be a Jew, and it is much harder to be a Jew in Japan than in the rest of the world where there are large Jewish communities. There is no kosher food available, and we have to take care of everything ourselves.