COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

April 9, 2021

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
Holocaust Memorial Day, Yom Hashoah. I didn’t intend to pay attention to it, I didn’t even really want to think about it, but I was suddenly, as it were, overpowered by recognition, anger and great concern. I am often accused of paying too much attention to the war and to anti-Semitism. Catherine Keyl has recently written a book entitled “War Father”. Her father, a Jewish resistance fighter, had and at the same time had not survived Sacksenhausen.
And then, at the end of his life, when his leg needs to be amputated and Catherine asks a psychiatrist to tell her father that his leg is going to be taken off, the young psychiatrist shows no empathy whatsoever in the world of a man who is in hell. Who had to carry the concentration camps with him all his life and now, demented, thinks that ‘they will still get him’ because his leg has to be taken off and he will therefore not be able to flee. And at the same time, I get a wonderful email from Holocaust survivor Nechamah Mayer after reading my diary. I quote her:
“Dear Binyomin. I read your diary in one go during the Passover season. I noticed that in the last chapters you talked more and more about anti-Semitism. As if it keeps getting worse. Or did you simply get more courage to point out to the reader how bad it has become? I thought the black pages with quotes were a nice layout. I am going to pass on the book, because it must be widely read. Wishing you many readers. Nechamah.”
By her encouraging words and having seen a video about the position of the HH doctors in Nazi Germany, I feel obliged to completely ignore the criticism of a younger colleague. He is of the opinion that I should not talk about anti-Semitism. He probably does not realize that much too much was kept silent before the war. It would be okay, the Allies were coming, a bit of work in the East… But it didn’t work out!
Fifty percent of the doctors in Germany cooperated in the destruction. Psychiatrists judged who could and could not live and convinced the large crowd that the Final Solution was ethically wholly justified! Germans, non-Jews, with a physical defect and a psychiatric disorder were eliminated for causing damage to the beautiful Aryan race and an economic burden. Last night I was on a zoom run by a pastor in Dokkum.
I was interviewed for ten minutes. I was not informed about what, but the subject became anti-Semitism and Yom Hashoah. I was asked at the end of the interview whether I had a message for all participants. My message became a request. An urgent request: I ask all participants to become my ambassadors and to announce to everyone they see or speak what happened then.
In fact, I don’t see any evidence that anti-Semitism has been eradicated. Light shines at the end of the corona tunnel. But the virus called anti-Semitism has an endless tunnel. Is there no light then? Yes, the coming of the Moshiach. We long for that, we have been eagerly looking forward to it for centuries. But in the meantime we need to realize the current reality. Beppie Caneel lived not far from us. Beppie had survived the Auschwitz experiment barracks. She was always cheerful. Couldn’t have any more children, of course, but she really survived with her sister. My wife took her to the hospital for some examinations. She had to roll up her sleeve. The doctor then asked her in surprise what those numbers were on her arm. Thank God Beppie was hard of hearing… A doctor who I assume not only studied medicine but also had general training. “What are those numbers on your arm?”
And that younger colleague of mine complains that I should especially not talk about the war and anti-Semitism. No, above all we must remain silent about the then, about the now and of course about tomorrow. I receive a video, you have to click it because “Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish People are alive!” in spite of everything, but alertness is required. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOWCgKVQE5M
Yes, today I also taught Jewish (zoom) to a regular weekly group. And yes, I also placed my signature on a rabbinical statement. And yes, I held a pastoral conversation and listened to someone for almost two hours about his difficult engagement with the topic. But Holocaust Memorial Day – Yom Hashoah reigns. I thought of all those family members of mine that I have not known at all and of which I know nothing because my parents wanted to spare me grief. I look at those two silver cups in our glass case. It has the names: Bernhard and Siegmund engraved on them. They were my father’s cousins.
Only those two cups are left of themselves, their wives. their children … And anti-Semitism is on the rise again.

Additional Articles

CALL FOR ACTION- Red Lines!

It is still not too late to take a stand and make a diference in the lives of Jews all across Europe!
And it’s a lot easier then what you might think. How?
Read all about our Red Lines Here .
Take a stand! Get involved! Fight antisemitism!
For a short explanation klick on the picture or go to the following link: https://www.facebook.com/ejassociation/videos/286901565522129/

 

European Virtual Yizkor for Virus Victims: Minister of the Diaspora, Omer Yankelevich and the Chief Rabbis of Israel come together to honour the diaspora dead

“The Jews of Europe have had to deal daily with the Fallout of the virus but also with anti-Semitic plots and threats of cuts in the security budgets of Jewish synagogues and institutions,” said Rabbi Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association who initiated the event.
 
Jewish communities across Europe have been severely affected by the Corona epidemic and challenges associated with lockdowns.
 
The Jewish death toll is estimated to be in the thousands. Community leaders say that in many cases the strict rules in place prevented many Jews from attending the funerals of their loved ones, and estimated that a significant number of Jews had died and were buried in civil burials as a result of the restrictions in place.
 
In order to enable European Jews to mourn and share the memory of their loved ones, Rabbi Menachem Margolin initiated the launch of a virtual Yizkor event in memory of Jewish corona victims via Zoom.
 
Omar Yankelevich, the Chief Rabbis of Israel and dozens of Jewish community leaders and rabbis from across the continent were in attendance.
 
The event also saw JNF Chairman Danny Atar announce that a tree will be planted in memory of each of Europe’s corona victims.
 
During the event, Diaspora Minister Omer Jankelevich greeted those present on behalf of the Israeli government, stating that: “we share pain, the diaspora’s pain is our pain and we in Israel know that our pain is also yours. We must mourn but we must also rebuild. And it is time for concrete actions. That is why I am heading up a 100,000 shekel fund to help support Jewish development in the diaspora, to deepen our shared bonds.”
 
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rishon Lezion, Yitzhak Yosef reminded that “G-d when he asked Moses to count Israel, he didn’t want just numbers, but names. The letters of G-d are in every name, and every one of us is special. When we mourn, G-d mourns too. We must find our strength, in our names, so interwoven with G-d to overcome, to deepen our commitment to Judaism, and to honour our loved ones.”
 
President of the French Consistoire Joel Mergui and Paris Chief Rabbi Michel  Guggenheim that “we have all carried a heavy burden. And we have cried at the loss, but also at our inability to embrace and support each other because of quarantine and lockdowns. We owe it to those who have passed to ensure that we do what we can to ensure that our synagogues will be packed as we approach the high holidays, that we show them the honour that comes from our strength to continue and to come back to our houses of prayer, stronger, more resilient and with a renewed determination to ensure a Jewish future.”
 
Belgian President of the Jewish Community of Philip Markiewicz:
 
“We suffered tremendous pain, but there was also tremendous solidarity, amongst our communities but also as society as a whole towards our communities and vice-versa. The Jewish contribution to society must continue, it must deepen. We must do this for our shared future full of optimism and hope, but also to honour the memory of our loved ones.”
 
Chairman of the European Jewish Association (EJA), Rabbi Menachem Margolin,
 
“The Corona epidemic has severely damaged many Jewish communities across Europe but has strengthened our belief that we all look out for and after one another.
 
Along with dealing with the terrible crisis, we have witnessed daily the strength of the Jewish spirit and the countless acts of kindness within Jewish communities across the continent. And so, this memorial event is on the one hand a commemoration of the  many victims of the virus and on the other is to honour, strengthen and cherish the resilience and fortitude shown by Europe’s Jewish communities. “

#NotOnMyWatch: EJA Annual Campaign for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2020

On behalf of the hundreds of communities across Europe that we represent, and for European Jewry as a whole, we at the EJA would like to express our deep gratitude to all the Presidents, Prime Ministers, European Commissioners, permanent representatives, MP’s, MEPs and members of the public who took part in our ‘not on my watch’ candle campaign for Holocaust Memorial Day. Together, your important voice showed the world our shared purpose and goal, rooting out and obliterating antisemitism wherever it lies. Thank you.

(to see all pictures click HERE)|

Jewish group seeks to ban Israeli auction of Nazi memorabilia

A prominent European Jewish group on is demanding for Israel to ban an auction offering Nazi memorabilia, which is set to take place in the country.
The European Jewish Association filed a cease and desist letter on Wednesday against the Israeli auction house “Pentagon,” which is offering several Holocaust-related items for sale to the highest bidder.

זוג גלויות נאציות שעומדות למכירה, החל מ-50 דולר

Nazi postcards from World War II on sale at the auction
(Photo: Bidspirit)
The auction includes items such as a Jewish passport, Nazi leaflets, Nazi stamps, as well as an Austrian Nazi cigarette box with a relief of an eagle emblem and a swastika, with prices ranging from dozens to hundreds of shekels.
Pentagon’s controversial auction comes weeks after Israel’s court suspended an unrelated auction of a partial tattoo kit billed as having been used on inmates at the Auschwitz death camp, following outcry from Holocaust survivors.
“The State of Israel must enact a law against auctions of Nazi memorabilia,” wrote the head of the EJA, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, in his appeal to both the Justice Ministry and Yad Vashem.
“My association is working with heads of state, ministers and senior members of parliament in EU countries, in order to prevent the cultivation of the Nazi heritage by putting such despicable items for sale at a high price.

סרט בד של עובד במחנה הריכוז דכאו הועמד למכירה

A canvas band of a Dachau concentration camp employee on sale at the auction
(Photo: Bidspirit)
“But shamefully, it seems that in the Jewish state of Israel, there are those who do not mind selling these items to the highest bidder,” wrote Margolin.
He further suggested a legislative outline to “end the despicable phenomenon of making money, while belittling the memory of the Holocaust.”

גלויה נדירה של הצורר אדולף היטלר, החל מ-50 דולר

Postcard with Adolf Hitler on it
(Photo: Bidspirit)
The Justice Ministry has yet to provide a response to the EJA’s appeal.
Additional Communities
United Kingdom
Ukraine
Turkey
Schweiz
Switzerland
Spain
Slovakia
Serbia
Russia
Romania
Portugal
When you click on "Donate" you will be redirected to a secure donation page