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

January 6, 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
“This message comes from Wollongong, Australia where we have a small Jewish community.
I wanted to ask you if Hijman Jacobs (1843-1872) might be in your family line? His great-grandchild who was once a student at our local university (~ 1970) is told that his great-grandfather was a Rabbi in Amsterdam. ” Thus the email I received this morning from Wollongong-Australia.
Never heard of a Rabbi Jacobs from Amsterdam, but what is not may yet come. I do not mean that I have ambitions to become the rabbi of Amsterdam, but it could just be that I have discovered an ancestor whose existence I did not know. Maybe he was not a rabbi and was only called a rabbi because he was a teacher. I am certainly not a descendant in the direct line, but perhaps he was a cousin of my father and therefore a real Jacobs. And if it is even slightly correct, I should definitely share that with Claire as well. Claire, I hear you ask. Who is Claire?
Claire and I share the same great-grandparents Salomon Levie Jacobs and Froukje Jacobs-Leek, who both passed away about a hundred years ago. About ten years ago we stood together in the cemetery of the Jewish Community in Muiderberg. We look alike and according to my wife have the same facial features. I also think that we both have mixed feelings about Aletta Jacobs with whom we both have the same family relationship. Proud of her commitment to equal rights for women and the prevailing discrimination, but we both also have difficulty with certain parts of her struggle / life vision in the field of ethics.
Claire and I are both from the orthodox core of the Jewish community. My dear caring and overprotective father has always told me that there must be one more person alive from the Jacobs family. A great-niece named Claire, granddaughter of his Aunt Bella, his father’s sister. My grandfather Jacobs had a sister and three brothers. All murdered with children, children by marriage and grandchildren. A cousin, Sampe, had survived the war but lost his wife and child in one of the camps. He was the only member of Jacobs’s side at my parents’ wedding in 1948. Sampe, my father told me, was deeply depressed and remarried a woman from Manchester. A girl is born who is named Claire. Sampe dies shortly after birth. Claire’s mother remarries. With whom and where my father did not know. But I have not forgotten the name Claire.
About ten years ago I received a phone call from the Jewish Community of The Hague. A certain Claire is looking for her origins. She lives in Melbourne. I didn’t have to think long, took the phone and talked to Claire, my grand-niece, the only still alive Jacobs. She wanted to know who her grandparents had been and also details about her father. Her mother had been married to him for only a short time and, in fact, knew very little about him. Because my father was on the verge of dementia at the time, I told Claire that if she wanted to hear more details from my father about her grandfather and grandmother, she should come now. And so I met Claire a week later. That feeling was very special. Even now, when I think back, tears come to my eyes. My grandfather and her grandmother were brother and sister. After she met my father, we went to Muiderberg together and stood before the graves of Salomon Levie Jacobs and Froukje Jacobs-Leek, our joint great-grandparents. Claire was raised by her mother and second father. But she was not told that her stepfather was not her real father. That stepfather never distinguished between Claire and the children born later. Mother and stepfather did not want to burden her with the real father who was no longer there.
Whether that was ethically correct or incorrect is no longer relevant. So her mother and stepfather had decided with the best of intentions in the world. Two weeks before her chuppah wedding, they told her husband-to-be that Claire’s real father is no longer alive. He, the husband-to-be, wanted Claire to find out, too, but because of the potential emotional blow, they decided to wait until a week after the wedding. She heard it, absorbed it, processed it emotionally, but did nothing with it. She was just married, building a family, then children … and then, ten years ago, when the children had left home and she and her husband had the wealth to themselves, she wanted to know: “Who were my grandparents and who was my father? ”
I was able to find someone who knew her father very well. We found the graves of her father’s parents and we found each other. Actually, we are just distant relatives, two people who had never met each other before. But we are both descendants of the same great-grandparents, we live in their footsteps, are both known to be the only survivors of that large Jacobs family. We both thanked G-d for being allowed to stand there together in the cemetery of the Jewish Community of Amsterdam, because we realized that most of the graves in the Jewish cemeteries will never be visited by anyone, because there is no one left. And while I was close to closing my diary, I received an email invitation from Claire to the chuppah of one of her grandchildren on January 5th in Monroe New York.
And now that e-mail from Wollongong, Australia. Maybe another Jacobs will turn up after all: Hijman Jacobs. I’m waiting!

Additional Articles

Former French PM slams comments made by France’s Foreign Minister about sanctions against Israel

‘’These comments are extremely serious and irresponsible,” said former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls when asked about the statements made by France’s Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné, who threatened Israel with sanctions unless more aid starts passing into the Gaza Strip.In an interview with Radio France International (RFI) and France 24 television channel, Séjourné siad: “There must be levers of influence and there are multiple levers, going up to sanctions, to let humanitarian aid cross checkpoints.’’“France was one of the first countries to propose European Union sanctions on Israeli settlers who are committing acts of violence in the West Bank. We will continue if needed to obtain the opening of humanitarian aid,” he added.‘’I’m ashamed today of the remarks made by the head of French diplomacy,’’ Manuel Valls, who was Prime Minister from 2014 to 2016, told CNEWS channel.‘’ I always speak in moderation. I’ve exercised power and I know it’s difficult, but to put Hamas and Israel on the same footing. If Hamas returned the hostages, laid down its arms and its leaders surrendered or left, the war would end. Hamas is responsible for this war, for the attack on Israelis last October 7, and for using Palestinians as human shields, he added.‘’As for sanctions, is Israel a friendly country or not? We’re a long way from the statements made by President Macron, who was very fair the day after October 7. It’s unbearable. It’s an act of great cowardice, and we have to be careful. Because in Israel there is a debate but it is united on one objective: both to save the hostages and to put an end to the threat to Israel from the south. Threatening sanctions against a country that is on the front line against Islamism, which is also waging war against us, is highly irresponsible,’’ concluded Manuel Valls.Despite the French Foreign Minister’sb statements, a record number of trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to Israel. A total of 419 trucks were inspected before entering the Palestinian territory. This is the highest number of trucks to enter Gaza in a single day since the war began on October 7. The previous record was 322 trucks, which entered the Palestinian territory on Sunday, according to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), in a comment posted on X. Before the war, nearly 500 trucks entered Gaza every day, according to a humanitarian source.In February, France banned 28 Israelis from entering the European country, accusing them of attacking Arabs in Judea and Samaria.“Settlement activity is illegal under international law and must stop. Its continuation is incompatible with the creation of a viable Palestinian State,” according to a statement from Paris at the time.Last month, French President Emanuel Macron said that the forcible transfer of Gazans from Rafah ahead of a prospective Israeli military operation in the city would constitute a “war crime,” according to Agence France-Presse.In November, Macron claimed during a BBC interview that Israel was killing women and children in Gaza.“De facto—today civilians are being bombed. These babies, these women, these old people are being bombed and killed. So there is no reason for it and no legitimacy. So we do plead with Israel to stop,” the French leader said.The remarks drew condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Macron “made a serious mistake, factually and morally” and that “the responsibility for any harm to civilians lies with Hamas-ISIS and not with Israel.”

New year message from EJA Chairman for Rosh HaShanah:

5780 (2020) was undoubtedly a watershed year for all of us.
The pandemic has upended our lives, caused many of us heartache and loss, and has pushed many struggling communities close to the edge.
And yet we sat at Seder tables , we carried on as best we could, as we always have done. We looked after each other, we reassured, lent words of comfort, engaged in physical acts of help and support…in short, we remain hopeful and true to who we are and the role entrusted to us by the Almighty.
It is in this continuing spirit that we welcome in 5781 – the Jewish new year- this evening.
We remain hopeful, positive and optimistic as we turn a new page, and we pray for better days ahead.
From all of us at the European Jewish Association, we wish you, your families, your loved ones a hopeful, healthy, happy and successful new year.
Shana Tova!
See Translation
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ערוץ 14

יו"ר איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה: "תמיד יהיו תירוצים לאנטישמיות"

הועידה השנתית של איגוד הארגונים היהודיים באירופה (eja) נערכה השנה דווקא בפורטו, פורטוגל. יו״ר האיגוד, הרב מנחם מרגולין, מספק הסבר מעניין לבחירה הזו. ״פורטו נבחרה משתי סיבות: בזכות ההיסטוריה העתיקה והחשובה של הקהילות הספרדיות באירופה, ולאור העובדה שפורטו היא קהילה לדוגמא: קטנה, מורכבת מבודדים שהחליטו להתאגד ולהקים גוף לתפארת״.

הועידה התכנסה בצל זינוק נוסף במספר התקריות האנטישמיות ביבשת, כמעט בכל מדינה. בכינוס סיפקו דוברים מגרמניה, בריטניה, צרפת ועוד הצצה לעולם הקהילתי שלהם על כך המשתמע מכך:, דנו בדרכים להתמודד עם שנאת- היהודים וחתמו על הצהרה משותפת, הקוראת למנהיגי מדינות אירופה להתייחס לאנטישמיות כאל פשע שנאה ייחודי ויוצא דופן, על כך המשתמע מכך.

https://www.now14.co.il/%D7%99%D7%95%D7%B4%D7%A8-%D7%90%D7%99%D7%92%D7%95%D7%93-%D7%94%D7%90%D7%A8%D7%92%D7%95%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%94%D7%99%D7%94%D7%95%D7%93%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%91%D7%90%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%A4%D7%94/

Two youths attack Austrian Jewish teen wearing Star of David ring

The victim was treated in a local hospital for cuts and bruises to his face. Police are searching for the assailants.

Two teenagers attacked a 16-year-old Jewish boy in the Austrian city of Gratz before he was able to get away.
The victim was treated in a local hospital for cuts and bruises to his face. Police are searching for the assailants.
According to a report from the Gratz Jewish community, the victim was wearing a ring decorated with a Star of David when he was accosted March 4 on the street near a high school by the two teens, who demanded to know if he was Jewish. When he answered that he was, the boys told him to “piss off.” Then one of the boys slapped and punched him in the face while calling him a “shit Jew.”
In a statement Elie Rosen, head of the Jewish community in Gratz, said local schools need help in addressing antisemitism and should not only be teaching about the Holocaust but about the history of the Middle East conflict.
“The fact is, the word ‘Jew’ is used as an insult in schoolyards,” the statement read in part. “We have to help schools prepare to take on this problem.”
“Unfortunately, Gratz is not an exceptional case,” he added. “This incident is part of a development in Europe.”
Rosen accused society in general and the political leadership of failing to take such incidents seriously.
According to statistics on antisemitism in Europe compiled by the European Action and Protection League, antisemitic incidents in Austria more than doubled in 2018 to 547 from 255 in 2014. Data for several countries was presented at the European Jewish Association annual conference in Paris last month.
With more than 150 members, the Jewish community of Gratz is the second largest in Austria. According to the European Jewish Congress, about 15,000 Jews live in Austria today, most of them in Vienna.
The article was published in the JPost
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