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Lions Roar : September 2018
comes this impulse to become more American.” How assimilated the BCA should become was an issue that caused tension between generations. “A group within the Berkeley Buddhist Temple wanted to create a Japanese language school,” Scott Mitchell tells me. “That way, the temple would preserve Japanese identity and culture. It was hotly contested, to the point where people left and formed another temple. Amer- ican political organizations charged the temples were places where heathens are doing un-American things. Why would you want to create a Japanese language school to reinforce that? “So many of these temples evolved from places where a Japanese community could come together to be Japanese, into places where people could also work out what it meant to be Japanese American, which is a different thing.” Some leaders of the BCA even wanted to reach beyond its Japanese membership. “Some of the priests were bilingual and there are records of public talks being given in English and publications from the early 1900s published in English,” says Rev. Kobata. “So, it wasn’t just a matter of providing spiritual support to the first-generation Japanese. There was also this international view of propagating the dharma beyond the eth- nic community.” Grandparents’ Generation: Born in America, Yet Still Interned Rogers’ grandparents were all born in the United States. They identified as Japanese Americans, not just Japanese, yet had a strong affinity for their ancestral culture. They spoke English The BCA became a place where Japanese immigrants could maintain their culture and beliefs while also working out what it meant to be American. Even though the next generation was born in the U.S ., more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned during the Second World War. Buddhists from different traditions came together for services in the camps, which gave those interned strength and hope. PHOTO(ABOVE)BCAARCHIVES(99.201.17)ANDTHEJAPANESEAMERICANNATIONALMUSEUM LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 45