Greetings for the Upcoming Rosh HaShanah by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Mr. Charles Michel

September 12, 2019

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Greetings for Rosh HaShanah by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Spain, H.E. Mr. Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón

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
 
It was another week of sorting through my stuffed inbox. A nice surprising was the initiative of an unknown person who only has a Jewish father. He wants to set up a website entitled: “ask the rabbi”.
 
I thought it was nice that someone who is therefore according to Halachah non-Jewish approached me to do this. So, I immediately made contact and agreed to participate.
 
The intention is that people ask their question online and that the administrator, him in this case, then forwards the questions to one of the participating rabbis. It seems sensible to me that some sort of pre-selection takes place, but although he thought the questions would be limited to questions about knowledge, I expect many more requests for help.
 
A request for help is very difficult to answer in writing. And so my proposal is that the rabbi call the questioner from an unnamed number. Experience has taught me that most of the questions that come to me are dressed up in a simple factual question, but that behind that simple question lies a much deeper question or problem. I cannot perceive this problem if the question is asked in writing.
 
And so the webmaster gets to work and looks at how we can separate the wheat from the chaff, but at the same time not throw the baby away with the bath water. I’m curious! So although I got up too late, because I went to bed much too late, my working day became too short. Especially because I had to come to Veldhoven to take part in an Israeli broadcast debating anti-Semitism and the question of how politics deals with Israel. And that was, despite first glance, fun.
 
I had brought to my friend Louk de Liever a bottle of Israeli wine specially from Judea and Samaria, which has been bombarded by the anti-Jewish lobby into a so-called ‘occupied area’ and these products must be provided with a label on which the origin can be recognised. So, product of Israel is of course out of the question, but also coming from Judea and Samaria is not accepted. It should read product from “occupied territory”. And while I had just returned from the city centre of Amersfoort, where Louk lives, after my walk, I see a message that in Dubai products from the so-called “occupied territories” may be sold without a label because they support the Palestinian economy. I am curious if the United Nations will now pass a resolution against the United Arab Emirates and I am even more curious how our Ministry of Foreign Affairs will respond.
 
Are they now sending a number of employees to fine the Chamber of Commerce in Dubai, as they did a few months ago to Nijkerk? Making sure that animal suffering in the slaughterhouses was limited, there was not enough staff available for that, but those few bottles of delicious Israeli wine from the “occupied territories” apparently had enough time and staff and that was really much more important than unnecessary animal suffering…But even if that reporting isn’t correct yet, it doesn’t matter. Because in politics, today’s truth can be tomorrow’s lie, or vice versa!
At 6:00 PM left for Veldhoven, near Eindhoven, for the Israel evening. It started at 8:00 PM and lasted until 9:15 PM. What a great program, what energy the SGP has put into this.
 
What pro-Israel warmth. And how grateful I am that I was able to participate in this. The background was a large photo of Jerusalem with the burning menorah in front of it. Perfect music, live interview with someone from Israel and someone else from Iraq. It was amazing.
 
But of course I had to think about what to say. It takes energy, but thank G-d I have that. At 11:15 PM I was home, floored. Wrote the diary and had another conversation with a political person to try to get a visa for a father who lives in Israel, is divorced and wants to visit his two small children, who live with his ex in the Netherlands. Problem: Visa is not granted due to corona. The political insider will see what he can do. And now, my faithful diary readers , if you don’t know what to do with your time for an hour and fifteen minutes, click on this link: https://youtu.be/NYJQaIjQIt8. Enjoy our friends of Israel, because we really have them!
 

Read the Latest Piece by Our Director, Mr. Alex Benjamin

A Terror Fighter We Don’t Know, But Should

In Europe, life is finally getting tougher for Hezbollah. For decades the group has used the continent to stage and fund its terror attacks, and last year they started to face proper scrutiny in Europe’s capitals. In 2020 alone, Austria, The Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Serbia and Slovenia all designated Hezbollah as a terror organization, banning the group from using their financial institutions and from setting foot in their respective jurisdictions.
These designations and actions are totally deserved. Hezbollah has left pools of blood across Europe, and across the globe, so few outside Tehran, Pyongyang and Beirut will kick up any stink about this effort to blacklist them.
Read More

Tourists take selfies in front of Holocaust war memorial

What are they thinking? Tasteless tourists take sick selfies and BREAKDANCE at site where 10,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered in one day by Nazis in WWII Kaunas massacre

Tasteless tourists who post pictures of themselves breakdancing, doing handstands and even performing ballet at a holocaust memorial site where 10,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered by the Nazis in one day are being shamed online.

The shocking images were taken in front of the mass murder memorial at Ninth Fort in Kaunas, where 9,200 children and their parents were slaughtered on October 29, 1941.

They show tourists grinning happily alongside hashtags such as #happy – apparently oblivious to the gravity of the massacre that took place behind them.

Now activist Richard Schofield has collected the photos, posted under the hashtag #Ninth Fort, to shame the tourists involved and to show that young people are not being educated on the horrors of the Second World War.

Holocaust memorial campaigner Simonas Dovidavicius, former leader of the Jewish community in Kaunas, told MailOnline he was sickened by the holocaust selfie trend: ‘This is terrible. It shows how society is not in with what‘s happened.

‘This place cannot be a place of enjoyment and relaxation. I‘ve seen people sitting in the killing fields and having picnics or listening to music. People who were killed there deserve respect and some honour.‘

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association, told MailOnline: ‘It is one thing to take simple pictures of the memorial for the sake of remembrance, yet completely another to joyously pose in front of the camera with the place of mass slaughter in the background.‘

The killings at Kaunus were the biggest single massacre of Lithuanian Jews during World War II.

The condemned were lined up at death site and shot dead before being buried in freshly dug trenches. In total 50,000 Jews were murdered at the site, as Ninth Forth became a Nazi killing station.

But to the horror of 52-year-old campaigner Mr Schofield that brutal history has been has been erased and ignored by tourists to the site posing for light-hearted selfies.

Smiling for the camera, visitors pose in front of the memorial where the victims‘ bodies lay, seemingly unaware of the mass murders that took place there 75 years ago. Some tourists have been pictured doing handstands, jumping on victims‘ graves and even performing ballet.

Mr Schofield was prompted to take action by pictures like one of two teenage girls gazing into their camera for a selfie with the hashtag #Winterwonderland.

In another on the website two male friends grinned in front of the monument with the hashtags #happy and #day.

Another shows a man clinging onto one of the monument stones alongside the hashtag #hangingout.

Perhaps most disturbingly, despite museum bosses trying to discourage it, most of those MailOnline spoke to, knew what happened there – and didn‘t feel they were being contemptuous of its past.

Julija struck a model pose in front of the monument. She said: ‘I knew we were taking pictures in a place where thousands of people were killed.

‘But I don‘t think it‘s bad to make memories of visiting this place by taking pictures.

She added: ‘It‘s more bad mannered to take wedding or birthday pictures there.

Sarune posted a photo of her laughing in front of the monument – and said: ‘Taking selfies and photos isn‘t disrespectful. The place itself is full of monuments that are really beautiful so I think that it is normal to take photos.‘

Their views were shared by Gabriele, who posted a photo of her doing ballet at Ninth Fort on Instagram. She said: ‘It‘s not ill-considered to take selfies there. it‘s more important that nobody vandalises the monument and keeps it clean.‘

Rytis, the tourist pictured hanging from the memorial, admitted: ‘It lacks respect, I think, but I don‘t care about it too much, because it‘s a monument.‘

The museum‘s director Jurate Zakaite told MailOnline: ‘We try to stop selfies being taken because we think it‘s disrespectful to those who died here.

‘It‘s very strange that they know the history but still do it. If we catch them we ask them to stop. It‘s forbidden to climb on the monument.‘

Mrs Zakaite gave permission for Lithuanian rapper Vaiper Despotin to record a music video at the site because the song was about the number of people who had died there.

But the museum boss immediately regretted it when the video featured a Yeti and a woman in tight black leather trousers.

Julia Mozer, spokeswoman for the CEJI A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe which is based in Belgium, slammed the visitors‘ activities, telling MailOnline: ‘Taking happy selfies in front of Holocaust memorial sites is disrespectful and hurtful. Education that develops an appreciation for the impact of the Holocaust is absolutely essential. Memorial sites should also be monitored to prevent such exploitation.‘

Mr Schofield said his campaign to raise awareness, which includes going into schools to educate children about the holocaust to raise awareness has been positive.

The project is ‘designed to begin breaking Lithuania‘s dominant Holocaust taboo and to encourage the next generation of the country‘s leaders and decision makers to start dealing with this difficult subject,‘ he said.

‘We‘re not here to shame these young people. We know they‘re mostly good kids like most kids are. The problem lies with the Lithuanian State, which continues to let its young people down by not teaching them the full story of the Holocaust. ‘

Mr Schofield, from Newhaven, East Sussex, has been living in Lithuania 16 years. He is the former editor of a travel guide for Central and Eastern Europe and stayed in Lithuania because he liked it there.

As a photographer with a keen interest in history he began documenting Jewish life and became aware of how little was being taught about the Holocaust in schools and how little people knew about it.

He set up the NGO International Centre for Litvak Photography in 2015, one of the projects of which is Fifty Schools, which according to his website aims at working with ‘50 secondary schools around the country as part of an ambitious educational project to publish a unique e-book about Lithuania‘s sadly forgotten Litvak history, heritage and culture.‘

 
The article was published on the Stock Daily Dish

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