Yakiimo Project

Yakiimo Project

Rabbi Edery recounts: ‘’Friday afternoon, when the Tsunami hit Japan at 2:46 PM, the house was shaking very much, and we did not know what was happening. Guests came and told us that there was a huge Tsunami and enormous destruction in Tohoku. Saturday evening, we travelled immediately with a lot of relief to Tohoku. We distributed all that we had. When we started to travel back to Tokyo, we realized there was no gas station with gasoline in the pumps because the roads to Tohoku were broken. We hitchhiked back to Tokyo, with a nice ramen chef who came to visit his mother in Fukushima and he took me back to Gotanda station, it was midnight, I walked back by foot to Sanno, Ota-ku.’’ 

While standing near Gotanda station, Rabbi Edery saw a Yakiimo truck- Oishi Yakiimo. He asked the driver if he would be willing to drive up to Tohoku to give out Yakiimo. The driver was very hesitant and uncertain and said sorry No. Rabbi promised him a large salary and promised to provide all the Satsumaimo. He agreed.Rabbi Edery gave him cash money in advance and paid the rest when he arrived in Tohoku.

From that day on, the Rabbi Edery brought many tons of satsumaimo for the people of Tohoku and for many months distributed hot Yakiimo for free in many cities. Sendai Iwanuma, Watari, Ishinomaki. People expressed their love for Yakiimo, the familiar smell during those cold winter months in Tohoku, brought joy, comfort and hope. 

Every morning, the Rabbi and his staff would wake up early, bake hundreds of satsumaimo in the truck’s oven and then serve them at 8 am to all the people in the centers.Then he would do more rounds throughout the day. Rabbi bought two additional ovens as one wasn’t enough to provide for all the people every day.

The hot Yakiimo was a comfort food during those difficult times. The older people loved it, and the mothers were delighted to serve hot, delicious and nutritious food for the babies and children and of course for themselves. This was easy to eat immediately. It worked like magic.

This was the main if not most original project that the Rabbi did during the Tsunami and in its aftermath. One child came over to the Rabbi and exclaimed: ‘’ Do you know what I want to be when I grow up? I want to be a Yakiimo truck driver! This way I will give out food to people and make them happy!’’.The governor of Miyagi ken, came himself to thank Rabbi Edery and his staff. 

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