The grove of cedar trees

By Paulo Coelho

 
In 1939, the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara was working in the Japanese embassy in Lithuania during one of the most terrible periods humanity has known, and he saved thousands of Polish Jews from the Nazi threat by issuing them with exit visas.

 
His act of heroism, in defying his own government for many years, was just an obscure footnote in the history of the War until the people whom Sugihara had saved broke their silence and decided to tell his story. Then everyone celebrated his great courage; the media joined in and authors were inspired to write books describing him as a ‘Japanese Schindler’.

 
Meanwhile, the Israeli government was collating the names of all such saviours in order to reward them for their efforts. One of the ways in which the Jewish state tried to acknowledge their debt to these heroes was to plant trees in their honour. When Sugihara’s bravery became known, the Israeli authorities planned, as was the custom, to plant a grove of trees in his memory, cherry trees – Japan’s traditional tree.

 
Suddenly, the unusual decision was taken to revoke the order. They decided that cherry trees were not an adequate symbol of Sugihara’s courage. They chose instead to plant a grove of cedar trees because the cedar is a much more vigorous tree and one with sacred connotations, having been used in the construction of the first Temple.

 
Only when the trees had already been planted did the authorities learn that in Japanese ‘sugihara’ means…a grove of cedar trees.

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Comments

  1. Yajna says:

    Dearest paulo and friends,

    i agree that there is much more to a name than just identification. In a sense, it is very much apart of who you are.when i read about names, or come across them, i always look at their meaning.. And see if i love it, and maybe if i'd love my unborn children to have it one day, whether i'd like them to be that sort of character or not. I love the name Jaina, meaning conquerer, via non-violence..hopefully i'l name my daughter that one day :)
    Personally, i find i am a character who loves her name, and tries to live up to its meaning of hawan. (its a hindu prayer of purification, using the elements, especially fire.)
    Lovely story paulo.. Just lovely.

    Thank you for being,
    Yajna

  2. [...] The grove of cedar trees By Paulo Coelho In 1939, the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara was working in the Japanese… [...]

  3. B.L. says:

    “Oh, my God..! Oh, my God…! (Jaj, Istenem…!)” I sighed.

  4. Yajna says:

    Dearest paulo and friends,

    i agree that there is much more to a name than just identification. In a sense, it is very much apart of who you are.when i read about names, or come across them, i always look at their meaning.. And see if i love it, and maybe if i’d love my unborn children to have it one day, whether i’d like them to be that sort of character or not. I love the name Jaina, meaning conquerer, via non-violence..hopefully i’l name my daughter that one day :)
    Personally, i find i am a character who loves her name, and tries to live up to its meaning of hawan. (its a hindu prayer of purification, using the elements, especially fire.)
    Lovely story paulo.. Just lovely.

    Thank you for being,
    Yajna

  5. Leaf says:

    Yes, of course, Kathleen…a beautiful, Scots rendition of Catherine..
    I named my child for that purpose…(i seem to be talking alot about myself recently)
    Her name stands for ‘Life /Spirit’

    Did you know…Coelho = Rabbit in English….and that could be related even to the colloquialism ‘talk alot’

    my surname…of a bird…is given ‘chatterer’ also…though i was born
    ‘sister of jean, (who sooner or later became jacques) the pen keeper’

    very interesting
    thank you, sir
    LOVE all

  6. Kathleen says:

    You know I’m coming to believe that there is more to a person’s name than for mere identification. Its like when you choose a name for your child you are saying I wish my child be granted the gift that comes with the meaning of the name. A few weeks back our parish priest was talking about how St. John the Baptist was going to be named in the tradition of the family but his mother felt strongly that God wanted him named John. Why? if not because names hold some significance.
    Kathleen xx