Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs spoke at a solemn and important event, marking the ascendancy of the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Utrecht Johannes de Jong

September 21, 2022

On 19th September in Utrecht, Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Senior EJA Board Member and Chairman of the EJA Committee for combating antisemitism, spoke at a solemn and important event, marking the ascendancy of the late Cardinal and Archbishop of Utrecht Johannes de Jong as a Righteous amongst the Nations by Yad Vashem for resisting the Nazis and saving hundreds of Jewish families and children.

Present at the event were all Dutch Bishops, the Israeli Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, two representatives of the King.

In his speech to those assembled, Chief Rabbi Jacobs recalled one particularly brave and visible moment of Cardinal de Jong’s resistance, linking it to a recent Torah Portion urging the Israelites, before entering the Land of Israel to “walk in his (G-d’s) ways”

In his powerful remarks Chief Rabbi Jacobs said:

“Last Shabbat we read in all synagogues in the world the Parshah כי תבוא in which we read, among other things, in chapter 28 sentence 9: והלכת בדרכיו -and you shall walk in His Ways.

The great philosopher, lawyer and physician Maimonides counts these words as one of the 613 do’s and don’ts known to Judaism and he explains that man should try as much as possible to resemble Gd. As the Midrash, the narrative literature, explains: “As the Lord is called gracious, so also shalt thou be merciful. As the Eternal is called merciful, so also shalt thou be merciful. And as the Eternal is called loving, so also shalt thou be loving.”

It is known that Maimonides never counts general commandments, such as “Thou shalt keep My commandments” or “Thou shalt sanctify thyself” in the number of the 613 commandments and prohibitions that the Torah prescribes. Only specific commandments count. And so the question arises, why is “and ye shall walk in His ways” an exception made here and an apparently general and overarching commission elevated to a specific individual commandment?

It is quite conceivable that a man lives exactly and meticulously as He, the Eternal, desires of him. He never commits a violation. And yet he does not, as it were, rise higher on the spiritual ladder. He remains on the spiritual plane where he stood. Teach us the Torah here: והלכת בדרכיו – there must be movement. How does a person get his spiritual level moving? By not merely fulfilling His commandments, but by being constantly aware that His ways must be walked. Every commandment has its specific assignment, its own way of carrying out, but growing, rising higher and higher, being in motion is an assignment in itself.

I can imagine that in the 1940s-1945s situation, many dutifully obeyed G-d’s laws, kept all commandments, and committed no transgression. But was there any movement? Were they willing to move the moment movement was required? “Thou shalt walk in His ways.” It is not enough to keep His commandments. His ways must be walked, there must be progress, spiritual ascent, movement.

During the horrible war period, according to the historian Prof. Presser, five percent of the Dutch were on the move, but it was a movement in the wrong direction because that five percent of our Dutch population was collaborating with the enemy, the Nazis. Ninety percent sat motionless and so let it happen. And only five percent moved in the right direction, walking in G-d’s Ways, at the risk of their own lives. The bishops, led by Archbishop de Jong, were part of that five percent, because on Sunday, August 3, 1941, it was pronounced from all the pulpits that membership of National Socialist umbrella organizations was not only prohibited, but would also entail exclusion from the sacraments.

The following happened prior to that Sunday:

In the night from Saturday to Sunday, August 3, 1940, the telephone rang in the Archbishop’s Palace. The Gestapo wanted to speak to the Archbishop immediately. Archbishop de Jong has Dr. Geerdinck announce that the men can come in half an hour. De Jong dresses in his official attire and the chandeliers are burning in the large room for guests.

When the bell rings at exactly four o’clock, Dr. Geerdinck opens, asks Himmler’s men to remove their coats and climbs the state staircase in front of them. Arriving at the door, he asks their names, knocks and leads the men inside. The Archbishop stands behind the table in his official garb and is silent. dr. Geerdinck announces: “Excellence. Obersturmführer Matzker and his adjutant”. De Jong bends down and remains silent. Geerdinck says: “setzen Sie sich”. Everyone sits down and everyone is silent.

Finally, the Obersturmführer takes out a narrow roll of paper and begins to read that the proclamation to ban membership of National Socialist umbrella organizations must not take place tomorrow morning. The Archbishop indicates that he has understood the message, whereupon his visitor says: “It is now four o’clock. All presbyteries can be reached by telephone. The proclamation in the church can be cancelled without difficulty.” The Archbishop mumbles that it is clear to him.

Then there is silence again, for a long time. Finally, Geerdinck says, “Gentlemen, have you fulfilled your assignment with this?”. They mumble yes, whereupon Geerdinck stands up and the visitors follow his example. A farewell is said, silently and without greeting.

The next Sunday morning, of course, the announcement went through everywhere. The words non possumus non loqui sound – “We cannot be silent”.

De Jong refused to simply continue to serve the Eternal as a faithful Catholic and to remain silent. He knew that especially as a church leader, movement, action was expected of him.

I regret that he could not be awarded the Yad Vashem award during his lifetime, but I am grateful that, thanks in part to the efforts of my good friend Dr. Hans Themans, we are finally gathered here today to show the world who and what de Jong used to be.

His Eminence Dr. Johannes Cardinal de Jong no longer needs the award, because he is rewarded daily for his willingness to risk his own life and to keep moving in the dark 1940s-45s, when 90% of our Dutch society motionless saw it and let it happen.

But this special meeting is of great importance to us, because alertness was, is and remains required. What happened then can happen again today and tomorrow. The war ended in our country on May 5, 1945, but anti-Semitism, today under the pseudonym anti-Zionism, has remained.”

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CHIEF RABBI OF ARGENTINA VIOLENTLY BEATEN IN HIS HOME

The rabbi reportedly suffered serious injury in the attack and remains hospitalized.

 The chief rabbi of Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, was severely beaten at his Buenos Aires home in the early hours of Monday morning, and has been hospitalized with “serious injuries” according to the capital’s Jewish Community Center (AMIA).
AMIA issued a statement on Monday saying that Davidovich, Argentina’s chief rabbi since 2013, was “beaten and savagely attacked by a group of strangers who entered his house,” at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Davidovich’s wife was tied up during the break-in and the assailants stole money and other possessions from the home, while telling him: “We know that you are the AMIA Rabbi,” according to AMIA’s statement.
The rabbi reportedly remains hospitalized. AMIA described the attack as “alarming” and called on the authorities to quickly investigate the assault against Davidovich and his wife.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international community must act against antisemitic incidents in wake of the attack.
“I send wishes for a speedy recovery to the chief rabbi of Argentina, Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich, and his wife, who were brutally attacked,” he said in a statement. “We must not allow antisemitism to raise its head. I strongly condemn recent antisemitic incidents and call on the international community to act against [antisemitism].”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett sent his wishes to Davidovich for a speedy recovery and called on world leaders to stand up against antisemitism, emphasizing in particular the need for Argentina’s government to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
“Today, the leaders of the world in Europe, in South America [and] all over are failing in their responsibility to learn the lessons of the past,” Bennett said. “But unlike the past, today we have Israel, and every Jew around the world must know they have a home here: we are waiting. But for Jews who want to live in Argentina, or France, or England, or the US or anywhere, we are also here. We will stand up against antisemitism. A strong Israel is the only answer – our enemies should know [that] Jewish blood is not cheap.”
His words were echoed by other Israeli politicians across the political spectrum.
“We are together with you in the struggle against antisemitism: in Argentina, in France, or anywhere else where the darkness tries to hurt us,” Labor leader Avi Gabbay said in response to the attack.
Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White Party, said; “we will fight the antisemitism that raises its head firmly in the world.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said he was “shocked” by the attack.
“Last week, I met with Latin American ambassadors and asked them to convey a message that the Jewish state will not be silent in the face of antisemitic attacks and the duty of local governments to uproot them,” he added in a statement.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamilel (Likud) said the attack was a “hate crime… the result of antisemitism that is rising around the world.”
“We pray for the safety of Rabbi Davidovich and his rapid recovery,” she added. “Argentina Jewry – the State of Israel is on your side.”
Amir Peretz (Labor) also consoled the community and urged Argentinean authorities to take action.
“The government should demand that the authorities in Argentina act quickly and decisively,” Peretz said. “We must do everything to ensure the welfare of Jews everywhere in the world.”
Ayman Odeh, chairman of Hadash-Ta’al, remarked in a statement that he was, “shocked by Rabbi Davidovich’s attack in Argentina.”
“Racism is racism and racism is racism, and should be condemned everywhere,” the Arab MK added.
Jewish leaders, too, were robust in their condemnation of the attack.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog condemned the attack and said that “we must fight to the end the human garbage whose source and motives are the hatred of Jews,” and said that the Jewish Agency would help lead the fight against global antisemitism.
“The World Jewish Congress is shocked and incensed by the brutal attack against the chief rabbi of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, Gabriel Davidovich, who was savagely beaten by robbers inside his own home,” WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said late Monday.
Argentinian officials and security forces are investigating the violent incident to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.

Iceland adds Judaism to list of state-recognized religions, life-stance groups

Organizations recognized as representing a community may benefit from church tax which the government collects from every citizen
The Interior Ministry of Iceland has added Judaism to its list of state-recognized religious and life-stance groups.
The move earlier this year means that Icelandic Jews may register themselves and their children as belonging to the country’s Jewish community, Chabad.org reported Thursday.
Organizations recognized by the state as representing a community may benefit from Iceland’s church tax, which the government collects from each person older than 16. It’s about $100 annually. Iceland has about 200 Jews.
The country has about 50 recognized religious groups. Church tax collected from those who are not registered as belonging to one of those groups goes toward the promotion of higher education and science.
“When we moved to Iceland, we knew that recognition was important to our community, and we were determined to make it happen,” Rabbi Avi Feldman, the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Iceland, told Chabad.org. “This is a story decades in the making.”
Feldman and his wife, Mushky, moved to Iceland in 2018.
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Update on the Red Lines

Yesterday our Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin rounded off a busy day of meetings on our ‘Jewish Red Lines’ with a very productive meeting with His Excellency Mato Skrabalo, Croatia’s Permanent Representative to the EU. Ambassador Skrabalo undertook to report back to Zagreb on our behalf, and intervene with the Prime Minister. We thank him for his time and commitment to the concerns of European Jewry. Hvala vam pulo!

בעקבות המאבק באנטישמיות: מועדון הכדורגל צ'לסי זכה באות "המלך דוד"

לארון הגביעים של מועדון הכדורגל של צ’לסי נוסף אתמול (שלישי) אות ייחודי שהוצב כבר הלילה בגאווה בין הגביעים על הישגי הקבוצה על כר הדשא.

היוזמה ארוכת הטווח מהווה חלק מעבודה מתמשכת של המועדון, באמצעות קמפיין Building Bridges של קרן צ’לסי.
יו”ר איגוד הארגונים היהודיות באירופה (EJA), הרב מנחם מרגולין, מציין: “ספורט מוציא את הטוב ביותר מאנשים, אך למרבה הצער הוא יכול גם להוציא את הגרוע ביותר. כמה מהדוגמאות הרעות ביותר של אנטישמיות מתבטאות לעתים קרובות ביציעי האצטדיונים השונים ברחבי העולם. צ’לסי לא היתה, כמובן, חריגה ממקרים אלו. אלא שבניגוד לאחרים, הם החליטו לעשות משהו בנידון”.
הרב מרגולין הדגיש כי “זה באמת מעורר השראה לראות לא רק את ההשקעה המשמעותית שנעשתה במאמץ הזה, אלא גם את המחוייבות האמיתית של צ’לסי להקשיב, לפעול ולעשות שינוי. מלמטה, מהיסוד, מחדר ההלבשה, יציע האוהדים ועד לאתר האינטרנט והרשתות החברתיות של המועדון אליהם נחשפים מיליוני אנשים. מועדון הכדורגל צ’לסי הוביל את הדרך. הם דוגמה ומופת לא רק עבור מועדוני כדורגל אחרים, אלא עבור כולם.
להעניק את הפרס הזה, בשם הארגונים היהודיים והקהילות הרבות שאנחנו מייצגים ברחבי אירופה, הוא המעט שאנו יכולים לעשות כדי להכיר בתנועה הזו לשינוי. הכוח הזה מעניק תקווה ליהודים מכל העולם שהלקחים שלמדנו מהשואה לעולם לא ישכחו, והאנטישמיות תגונה בכל מקום בו היא באה לידי ביטוי. בשם כל החברים והקהילות שלנו, אנו מוקירים ומודים לכל השותפים במועדון הכדורגל צ’לסי- הבעלים מר אברמוביץ’, היו”ר, הדירקטורים, הצוות והשחקנים על שהפכו את המאבק באנטישמיות למובן מאליו בדרך חד משמעית וחסרת הפחד”.

חבר חדש לארון הגביעים של צ’לסי (במרכז התמונה), צילום: דינה ארליך,

ברוס באק, יו”ר מועדון הכדורגל צ’לסי, שקיבל את הפרס מטעם המועדון אמר: “אנחנו גאים להיות הזוכים בפרס המלך דוד של איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה (EJA). מאז שבעל המועדון שלנו, רומן אברמוביץ’, יזם את קמפיין Say No To Antisemitism בינואר 2018, אנו מחויבים לעבוד עם ארגונים יהודיים ברמה לאומית ובינלאומית כדי לסייע בסילוק האנטישמיות מהחברה. נמשיך לרתום את מגוון הפלטפורמות הגלובליות שלנו בצ’לסי כדי להגיד לא לאנטישמיות ולהיאבק בכל שאר צורות האפליה”.

מר עבדאללה שאטילה, איש העסקים הלבנוני שעלה לכותרות ברחבי העולם כשנענה לקריאת הרב מרגולין נגד סחר בפריטי מורשת נאציים ורכש מזכרות נאציות שנמכרו במכירות פומביות בגרמניה בשווי 600,000 אירו ותרם אותן ליד ושם – ומאז תמך ביוזמות רבות למאבק באנטישמיות, חתן פרס המלך דוד של EJA לשנת 2020, ציין בטקס המרגש על כר הדשא כי: “אנטישמיות מכוונת אמנם ליהודים אך מדביקה את החברה כולה. לבורות, שנאה ושנאת זרים אין מקום בעולם שבו הגבולות נעשים יותר ויותר חסרי משמעות, שבו הערכים הם אוניברסליים ושבו יש להוקיר זהויות שונות.
אני גאה להיות כאן הערב בצ’לסי, להיות חוליה מתמשכת בשרשרת המחויבים למאבק באנטישמיות. למועדון הכדורגל של צ’לסי יש קהל אוהדים עצום. הם יכלו כמובן לבחור במסלול הקל, אך הם החליטו באופן מעורר השראה להתמודד עם הנושא חזיתית”.
https://www.israelhayom.co.il/sport/world-soccer/article/5873477

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