EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION CONGRATULATES VIKTOR ORBAN ON REELECTION

April 9, 2018

“You have been a stalwart defender of Israel on the world stage, recently going against the prevailing EU winds and supporting the move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel…As long as you continue to show the right way ahead when it comes to defending and upholding Jewish rights, you will continue to enjoy our support”, says EJA Chairman Rabbi Margolin
European Jewish Association has written to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to congratulate him on his reelection, and to seek assurances that he will continue to defend and uphold Hungarian Jewry under his new mandate, as well as continue his vocal support, diplomatic and political support for the State of Israel.
In his letter to Hungary’s Premier, EJA Chairman and founder Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote,
‘You have been a stalwart defender of Israel on the world stage, recently going against the prevailing EU winds and supporting the move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As European Jewry and the State of Israel are inextricably linked, your support for the Jewish State means a lot to us and we thank you for it.
“During your previous term in office your steadfast assurances and commitments to protect Hungarian Jewry and their heritage were warmly welcomed and were an anchor to us in these turbulent political times.
“With great power comes great responsibility – so the saying goes. We earnestly trust that your previous positive and embracing stance to your Jewish citizens will be carried over into your new term and across your government.
“Europe stands at a crossroads. As long as you continue to show the right way ahead when it comes to defending and upholding Jewish rights and standing up for the State of Israel you will continue to enjoy our support.”

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A tough week…reflections always worth reading from Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs.

While the world at large is rightly concerned about Russia-Ukraine, a years-long effort to save Levi has failed. Levi has been imprisoned in appalling conditions in a primitive country since 2016 just because he is Jewish. After years of attempts to free him with the mediation efforts of another country, that route has failed. I was a small link in that liberation campaign, one without success I was told on Friday from the US.
A feeling of helplessness takes over me. Powerlessness and incomprehension too about Ukraine and Russia. The rabbis in Ukraine are in a very difficult situation. Some have fled and are now without a source of income, mostly in Israel, neck-deep in worries. Others have stayed, and don’t really know what to do, completely at a loss as to which way it will go.
I spoke to the chief rabbi of Dnieper on the phone. He can’t leave, he told me, because the older members of the congregation can’t leave either. There isn’t a single hair on his head that contemplates leaving his community, of abandoning his (sinking?) ship, as long as the majority of his crew members and passengers cannot or do not want to take that escape route.
More and more I think about my parents and their generation and the decisions they had to make to survive. My parents made the right decisions and that is why I exist and the second generation exists. But the great majority of then made the wrong decision and literally and figuratively had no way out. At the time, many thought that everything would not go so smoothly and that the Netherlands, like in World War I, would be able to escape the macabre dance again
And since I already started this new week from a low point, I can add something to it. Some of the Ukrainian rabbis or teachers have fled and are now elsewhere in Europe. They thought they could dedicate themselves to the Jewish Ukrainians who also fled to become their rabbi again, as it were, but outside of Ukraine. But it’s not all that simple. The interest in maintaining Jewish contacts is very low for the vast majority of people. For most, Judaism was a ticket to get away and seek shelter. But now that they’re gone and the first shelter is over…
Whether it is war or not, man remains human in times of war and also in his selfish behaviour. Some of the rabbis I know from Ukraine really couldn’t go back and are now in Israel, caring for their Ukrainians in the Holy Land. And I can again be a small link to financially support those rabbis and therefore be a part of their commitment, as it were. The rabbis who really can’t go back because their congregations have been totally destroyed are also supported. The stragglers too. But that in-between group? To return or not to return? And what about wife and children? That intermediate group is having a hard time, because they are either viewed as heroes or/and as traitors.
By the way, amidst the gloom, I also received a nice message. A Jewish-Dutch family that has been trying to settle in Israel for more than a year has finally managed to go through the long bureaucratic road of forms and signatures and can now finally make Aliyah. And another positive message is my appointment as a jury member. You see: no complaints about rabbinical variety. You may remember the discussion about the German war cemetery in Ysselsteyn. The result, after many discussions and meetings, was that a
monument was erected in memory of the 102,000 Jews, Roma and others who were not allowed a grave, unlike the murderers. Six artists can give a presentation of ‘their’ artwork and I will be one of the jury members. And so, I will be in Ysselsteyn on November 22. You will read about it here first!

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

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.

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