Ambassadors are Like Rabbis: Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

October 28, 2020

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam,  which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl and then: scroll down.
Ambassadors are like Rabbis…
Today was all about abroad. The Ambassador of Hungary had invited me to lunch at his embassy. We have known each other for a few years, meet from time to time and so again today. Reason for the visit? No. Just catching up again about kosher slaughter, which was threatening to become a problem in Poland and the relationship between Hungary and Israel.
Because it would not be exactly easy to arrange a kosher meal at the Hungarian embassy, ​we (my wife and I) invited him to lunch with us.
So,the ambassador came to Amersfoort and we not to The Hague. Not wanting to come empty-handed, he brought a huge bouquet of flowers and a bottle of kosher wine.
How did he get that wine? The ambassador called his friend Naor (the ambassador of Israel) and he arranged for a bottle of kosher Israeli wine from the IPC – the Israel Products Center – in Nijkerk to be delivered to the Hungarian embassy that morning. And because the Ambassador of Hungary did not know about the existence of the IPC, which is ten minutes from my house, I took him there after lunch. Of course I made sure that in addition to the tour and explanation about the objective of IPC and Christians for Israel, he also received a pack of cookies. Because: tomorrow the ambassador of Israel will visit the Hungarian ambassador and then it seemed nice that I then pay back the bottle of wine via a roll of kosher Israeli biscuits.
Apart from that, I gave the ambassador a mask with “I love Israel” on it, so that the Hungarian ambassador can wear it when the Israeli ambassador comes to make his appearance.
Networking is something like that. Usually it does not deliver on the spot, but is important nonetheless. Ambassadors do no different, and are a bit like rabbis, at least my kind of rabbis.
Because I believe that the rabbi is of course primarily there for the Jewish community in its full breadth. But for that Jewish community, contact with outside that community is also of vital importance, because we are part of the wider society: Noah had to leave the Ark by order of Gd!
Apart from the importance for the Jewish community, we also have a duty, in my opinion, to contribute to the well-being of the surrounding society. Yesterday I had a visit from another kind of ambassador, namely Dr. Pieter de Boer, member of the deputy Church and Israel of the CGK-Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerken- and spokesperson of the Interkerkelijke Werkgroep. That Working Group had drawn up a statement of guilt on the attitude of the churches during and shortly after the war. Today, that statement of guilt was officially released.
Although for me such a debt declaration is not really necessary, I was especially touched by the comment about what went wrong after the war. My grandfather and grandmother’s nephews and nieces were not allowed to be raised with my grandfather and grandmother, but were to remain in the Christian homes where they had been in hiding. Of course, those parents had bonded with the kids, saved their lives, but … they really hadn’t given up their murdered parents with the intention of being raised as Christians.
And whilst with the ambassador: a phone call from Ukraine. One of the rabbis was in a conflict with Christians for Israel supporting him with an adoption project. People in the Netherlands adopt a poverty-stricken Jewish family in Ukraine for € 25 per month. In Kirovograd, communication between the Dutch donors and the local rabbi did not go well. And so I get a call from the rabbi and start mediating or solving, as a kind of ambassador of whom I really don’t know, but I am somewhere in between.
After the necessary phone calls, I hope that I have been able to straighten everything out again and that it also runs smoothly in Kirovograd. What is difficult here is that the local rabbi speaks fluent Russian, but no Yiddish, poor English and not optimal Hebrew, and certainly no Dutch! But I believe I’ve been able to tie things together again. In the meantime, I am waiting for the results of an archival investigation to confirm someone’s Jewishness. I feel that it can be checked that way, but not everyone shares my opinion that (almost) everything should be tackled immediately. In principle, I always answer e-mail immediately.
As a result, I sometimes spend late at night behind that stupid computer that has been controlling my whole life!
But Good news! At least in my opinion. Because, of course, it is really not the case that a hundred listeners are more important than ten at a lecture, and the same goes for the number of readers of my diaries, still, I have to admit my weakness in this, I like that my diaries are getting wide read. And so: Good news for me! Coincidentally (although I really believe that coincidence does not exist) the EJA –European Jewish Association- saw one of my diaries, translated it with Google and asked permission to post this diary a few times a week on their website and their Facebook. And thus more readers. My diary is going European!

Additional Articles

Four appear in court over alleged antisemitism shouted from convoy

Four men have appeared in court charged with shouting antisemitic abuse from a convoy of cars in north London earlier this year.
Mohammed Iftikhar Hanif, 27; Jawaad Hussain, 24; Asif Ali, 25; and Adil Mota, 26, were seen covering their faces as they arrived and left Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
They are charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words, or behaviour with intent likely to stir up racial hatred.
All four men from Blackburn entered not guilty pleas, with Mr Mota’s lawyer telling the court that his client was travelling as part of the convoy but wasn’t involved in the incident.
Read More :
https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/four-appear-in-court-over-alleged-antisemitism-shouted-from-convoy-1.521120

Belgian MP Michael Freilich calls on the Belgian government to cancel its Durban Conference attendance, on behalf of the Belgian N-VA party.

The EJA firmly stands behind MP Michael Freilich’s call to cancel Belgium’s attendance at the 2021 Durban Conference, an action which dozens of other states have already undertaken. The Conference, which is a supposed anti-racism event, fails to address mounting antisemitism.

In the past, the conference has even been a platform for Jew-hatred to be spread. Antisemitic flyers and books, such as the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, have frequently appeared. Moreover, in the latest event, flyers were distributed of Hitler allegedly saying “What if I had won? The good things; There would be NO Israel and NO Palestinian’s blood shed- The rest is your guess.” According to UN Watch, the UN’s Durban conference has repeatedly exclusively targeted Israel and basic rights of the Jewish people whilst permitting the voices of the hateful to be amplified. U.S. Congressman & Holocaust Survivor Tom Lantos comments: “It was the most sickening display of hate for Jews I have seen since the Nazi period.”

Such an event can not be legitimized through the attendance of national representatives and participation is to be cancelled immediately. The focus on inclusive and pro-active measures to rid society of all types of hate is not to be undermined and should be continued under effective conferences and events.

Police officer told me to take off my kippah'

European Jewish leader Rabbi Menachem Margolin says Brussels police told him to remove his kippah at his own event.
Police instructed the organizer of an eventcelebrating Europe’s technological ties with Israel in Brussels to remove his kippah.
“I was just requested by a security officer to remove my kippah for security reasons,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder of the European Jewish Association and Europe Israel Public Affairs, told Arutz Sheva outside the event.
“But I will never do it,” said Rabbi Margolin.
Despite the police’s request, Rabbi Margolin said that the event was “great” and that “thousands of people celebrated Jerusalem’s high tech.”
“This is the second time that we brought Israeli technology, high tech companies from Jerusalem, to present what they do here in Brussels in front of the European parliament.
“Thousands of people enjoy and can see what Jerusalem can contribute to their lives,” he said.
(to watch the video click on the picture)

The Article was published in Aritz 7
 

New Cooperation with The Dutch NIHS Brabant Community from Eindhoven

The European Jewish Association is proud and delighted to welcome another organisation to our growing roster of partners and communities.
We have just concluded and signed a memorandum of understanding with The Dutch NIHS Brabant Community from Eindhoven.
When two dynamic and active Jewish organisations get together and agree to work closely together, beautiful and important things flow from this. We look forward to working for the betterment of Dutch and European Jewry together.

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