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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sebastopol's Emanji Temple on KRCB TV

A little-known story of Sebastopol's Enmanji Temple and the return of Japanese Internees after World War II is featured on KRCB Public
Television 22, as Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month is recognized during May 2010.

Monday, May 3 at 9:00pm Leap of Faith & Hideko; Airing again on Tuesday, May 18 at 11:30am

Produced and directed by Sonoma County filmmaker Lina Hoshino, this 18-minute documentary, entitled Leap of Faith, tells a little-known story of young white Christian teenagers who put their bodies on the line to protect Sebastopol's Japanese Buddhist temple, Enmanji, from hate-related arson and vandalism during WWII.

An Enmanji temple was first established in Sebastopol here in Sonoma County in 1926 and served as a center of activity for the local Japanese farm communities. During WWII, the Enmanji temple was locked up while all of the Japanese Americans in the community were forcibly sent to internment camps. When the war came to an end and news spread that the
Japanese families were returning, unidentified individuals protested by vandalizing the temple and attempting to burn it down. An ax scar is still visible on the temple building. When the youth at Community Church of Sebastopol (United Church of Christ) heard about the incident, Jack
Gerboth, Sara Gerboth, Peggy and Bob Martz, Ann and David Williams, and other teenagers who had grown up alongside Japanese Americans, organized to guard the temple for three months.

In her very personal documentary, Hoshino explores what motivated the teenagers and the nature of the legacy they left behind. Barbara Bertoli suggests that these young people took a stand ultimately because of friendships among the white and Japanese teenagers. The film explores this historical narrative with an eye to lessons about how and when people take action in ways that will affect their communities down the years.

This story is not only a part of Sonoma County‚s history: it also constitutes an important way in which this community shapes its collective memory of the events surrounding WWII. Even though these young people took a leap of faith to help members of their community, their acts do not erase the reality that civil and human rights were violated, property stolen, families torn apart, and lives destroyed. Instead, we are reminded that it is possible to stand by those who are endangered and victimized by the prevailing political climate.

The film, narrated by the director, weaves interviews with Barbara Bertoli (one of the youths leaders during WWII), Paula Berndt (daughter of Sarah Gerboth), Marie Sugiyama (former internee), and George Hamamoto (former internee).

Hideko, a second short film by the same local producer, will air just after Leap of Faith. In Hideko, the changes in filmmaker Lina Hoshino's mother's name over the years reveal a long history of political turmoil in Taiwan.

KRCB Public Television broadcasts from studios in Rohnert Park, California on digital channels 22.1, 22.2 & 22.3 and is seen over-the-air throughout much of the San Francisco Bay Area. KRCB is also seen on Channel 22 via Comcast Cable and Dish and DirecTV satellite services across the entire San Francisco Bay Area. If you enjoy this quality programming, why not
support KRCB at

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