Rabbi Jacobs Covid Diary gets published!

March 8, 2021

Chief Rabbi’s unique take and thoughts on the pandemic collected in a book to be launched
Wednesday.
Chief Rabbi Jacobs, a regular contributor here, a dear friend and advisory Board member has had his
unique, stimulating and thought-provoking Covid Diary published in Dutch.
The book will be launched at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam where Rabbi Vorst, will be
one of the speakers. The first book will be given to Mrs. Blouma Jacobs-Raskin, the Chief Rabbi’s wife.
Some of the reviews of the book are found below:
“In recent years, Chief Rabbi Jacobs has developed into the ambassador of Judaism and the Jewish
community in the Netherlands. In these diary entries he gives a unique insight into what that means:
traveling from north to south, appearances for media, and having very personal conversations. As a
true balance artist, he has both feet in the Jewish community and in Dutch society. ”
Bart Wallet, historian
“Who is Chief Rabbi Jacobs? This book gives us a glimpse into the life and work of the man who know
so many people and who is so widely appreciated. This diary shows us some of his thoughts and ideals.
Who is Chief Rabbi Jacobs? A highly respected member of our Jewish community and a dear friend
who has always supported and will continue to support the State of Israel. ”
Naor Gilon, Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands
“Chief Rabbi Jacobs gives us an insight into his versatile daily activities. The diary is varied: every day
raises the question of what the next day will bring. Apparently light-footed, but always with a profound
undertone, he makes poignant observations that testify to a deep understanding of people and the
world. ”
Rev. Frank Heikoop, chairman Christians for Israel
“During the many conversations I have with Chief Rabbi Jacobs, he talks about his daily adventures.
He travels all over the country, is an important Jewish voice in politics in The Hague and a sparring
partner for municipalities. He knows what is going on among Jews in the Netherlands. That’s why it’s
great that this chronicle of his is now being published.”
Esther Voet, editor-in-chief Nieuw Israëlitisch Weekblad.
“The Chief Rabbi’s Corona Diary is not about the virus, its horrors, and the restrictions placed on our
daily lives. Binyomin Jacobs has written down how, from the rich traditions of Judaism, he reacted to
what came his way every day. Those traditions are leading for him and not the virus. Refreshing and
offering perspective for everyone, I think. ”
Wim Deetman, former Minister of Education and Science
A link to buy the book (in dutch) is HERE

Additional Articles

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
Diary 20 Jan. 2021
That such a figure should commemorate my family …….
It is now 23:15 on Wednesday. I just got home. Gave a lecture in Gorinchem. Of course without a visible audience, but in a professional studio and several hundred who were watching at home and many thousands of them are expected to watch the broadcast at a later date. I am used to it by now. If I can immediately speak to visible people again, it will take some getting used to giving a lecture to real listeners.
A lecture with a 15-minute break with tea in the middle. Audience that can just see me in real life and I can look at those present. Now you should know that I used to read from the faces whether I needed to dig deeper into the matter, whether it was time for a parable or a joke to keep people on their toes.
Since I am now starting to realize that we can hardly go outside at the end of this week (good for my health? Not so much.) Today I did my fast walk of one hour instead of the usual 25 minutes.
In the meantime, the condolences keep coming in by e-mail (Chief Rabbi Jacobs recently lost his son – Editor), on facebook (so I was told, because I don’t get on facebook myself) and the phone hardly stops ringing. So many warm and beautiful words.
Also an email advising me to repent. Well-intentioned, but I firmly rejected the proposal without any consideration. Should the author of that lengthy e-mail read this diary, she will hear that I was not charmed by her attempt at conversion, nor did I bother to respond to her e-mail.
Conversion is a loaded topic for us Jews that are still alive. “But”, I hear you think, “you are so good with the Christians for Israel, aren’t you?” Dear people, they do not seek to convert! I know their motives, I know their background, I am aware of their statutes and I am in almost daily contact with them. Together we fight for Israel and against anti-Zionism. To convert? They have many fellow believers who strongly disapprove of their pro-Israel action and point out their flaw that they do not serve as missionaries amongst Jews. But they do try and convert, but of a very different kind. They are trying to convert the churches to change their anti-Israel stance to a pro-Israel approach!
Why am I raising that now? Not because of that dorky letter from that lady, but because the Jewish Agency has stopped working with a Canadian Christian organization called Return Ministries because of a rumour that they are trying to convert people. The president of that organization is a Messianic Jew. And although every person is responsible for himself and is allowed to do what he cannot resist, this is disturbing.
A Messianic Jew who wants to bring Jews to Israel? Who himself has thrown his Judaism overboard? For me a contradiction interminis! And so, I fully understand the Jewish Agency.
And while that lady tries to swindle me away from Judaism, I read today in the authoritative British daily the Guardian that a recent survey shows that many British Jews are afraid to show signs of their religion, such as wearing a kippah or a Star of David in public. Rising anti-Semitism, which is increasingly becoming the “normal”! Let that converting lady spend her time on that and leave me alone. Linking this conversion attempt to the death of our son is unsavoury to say the least.
In the meantime, the sheer number of statements of support resulting from my diary shows that I have built up a wide readership. Apparently, I’m not the only one who knows that.
Because, and now it comes, today I have been approached from four different sides with the request to pay attention in my diary to the choice of the speaker at the annual National Remembrance Day on May 4. The Committee for 4 and 5 May actually chose a figure who has made anti-Semitic remarks on various occasions. The Jewish Telegraph Association (JTA), which is generally well-informed and meticulous, has devoted an entire article to it, and the statements the speaker is said to have made do not lie. I am sure that this week’s NAV will also pay substantial attention to it.
It is incomprehensible that this Abdelkader Benali, who has nothing to do with the 1940s and 45s, will speak at the same commemoration where last year our King Willem Alexander brilliantly expressed exactly what the especially Jewish Netherlands had been waiting for, for so long. What an encouragement that was! And now this figure comes…? I don’t get it, I feel like May 4 is being taken away from me, but I hope I misunderstood everything, that the JTA was misinformed and the various quotes emails that are far from Jew-friendly just on a misunderstanding and were never expressed.
But in the unlikely event that everything is right: That such a figure should commemorate my family … this I just don’t understand.

Message of Rabbi Margolin on International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019

“The ‘Group of the Elders of Zion’ and Mayer AmschelRothschild, the skilful founder of the famous dynasty that still today controls the International Banking System, led to the creation of a manifesto: ‘The Protocols…’”

Looking at the above quote, you would think that it was written by a Nazi in the 1930’s, right? 

Wrong. This was posted this week by Senator Elio Lannutti, of the Italian Five Star Movement on Twitter. 

On the 27th January we will have marked International Holocaust day.

Senator Lannutti reminded us why we must continue to mark international holocaust day, and why we can never assume such a horrendous calamity could never be inflicted on us again. 

Antisemitism is as stubbornly rooted as ever. Try and rip it up and its seeds will travel somewhere else. From France to Spain, or Belgium to Belorussia, the political winds that carry it can be strong, or a barely perceptible breeze, but still they blow. 

Deborah Lipstadt knows this. She describes where we are right now as a “perfect storm”.  

Lipstadt is best know for the libel suit filed against her, by the Holocaust denier David Irving. In her latest book “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” she examines the recent rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe. 

In an interview with the New Yorker this week, she summed the situation up as follows:

“On some level, it is the same old, same old. The construct is the same, the stereotypes are the same. But I think what is different today is that we’re seeing a perfect storm, in that usually it comes from either the right or the left politically. Today we’re seeing it from the political right and the political left, and we are seeing it particularly—not only, but particularly—in Europe from Islamist extremists, or jihadists, or whatever term you’d like to use.”

Why is anti-Semitism still with us? I believe that it is so deeply embedded, that it operates almost at a subconscious level in most people. After all, when things go bad, economically, politically or otherwise, we are to blame. But if any other random group had these accusations laid at their door, such as pizza delivery people or cyclists, everyone would say it was nuts. 

Yes, it can sometimes feel like a heavy burden, but Ann Frank, displaying a wisdom far beyond her tender years,summed it up neatly: 

“Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is G-d that has made us as we are, but it will be G-d, too, who will raise us up again. If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example. Who knows, it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason alone do we have to suffer now. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any country for that matter; we will always remain Jews, but we want to, too.”

I want you to take this message to heart. 

Empires come and go, War turns to Peace, and back again, yet still we are here, giving the world the shared totality of our many talents, expertise and wisdom. Not for ourselves but for everyone. 

We want to remain Jews. Because we are. Because we can be no other. Because not being so is like asking us not to breathe. Yes, we are leaders in science, the arts, and yes, Senator, in Banking too. 

It is not arrogance or self-serving interest that drives us on, as the antisemites would have it. 

In fact, it is the exact opposite. Our task was and remains to this day, the same task that each of us were given at Sinai by the Almighty: To make the world a better place. This responsibility rests on every Jew, from Rothschild the banker to Rosenbaum the street cleaner. It is not for our benefit that we do our best, but to honour the task that G-d gave us, for the benefit of all humanity.

We must never lose sight of this. And we must never relent in our task. I will leave the last word to Winston Churchill.  Let it be your call to action, and a reminder to us all on dark days such as Holocaust Memorial Day: 

“Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.” 

May G-d continue to bless us all. 

The campaign with the portrait of Mr. Soros

The delegation who met with Orban included general director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, and Hungarian Rabbis Baruch Oberlander and Shlomo Kovesh, the latter of whom is head of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.
The meeting followed the inauguration of the opening of a new kosher slaughterhouse in the country, for which they thanked the prime minister for his “commitment to freedom of religion and to the eradication of antisemitism.”
“Though the campaign with the portrait of Mr. Soros is not necessarily very elegant, it has absolutely no relation with, and does not make any mention or even hint to his Jewish origin,” Margolin told the Post on Sunday. “When this claim came up a few times, the government has made it clear that it rejects any means of trying to connect this argument with people’s ancestry.”

Jews Are Being Murdered in Paris. Again.

It’s no rare thing for the Israeli prime minister to enrage the Jews of the diaspora. But three years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech that won him near-universal condemnation.

In the aftermath of several deadly attacks in European cities like Paris and Copenhagen, Mr. Netanyahu called on Jews to leave Europe. “Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country. But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home,” he said, echoing comments he had made more subtly the month before at Paris’s Grand Synagogue.

Mr. Netanyahu’s suggestion of “mass immigration” was “unacceptable,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association. Abraham Foxman, then head of the Anti-Defamation League, suggested such a policy would “grant Hitler a posthumous victory.” Denmark’s chief rabbi, Jair Melchior, said he was “disappointed.” Smadar Bar-Akiva, the executive director of JCC Global, said “the calls for French Jews to pack their bags” and move were “disturbing and self-defeating.”

François Hollande, then president, echoing a chorus of European leaders, pushed back hard, appealing to his country’s Jews: “Your place is here, in your home. France is your country.”

Is it?

This is a question worth seriously asking following the barbaric murder last week of Mireille Knoll.

Ms. Knoll, 85, believed Mr. Hollande. France was her place, her home, her country. And Paris was her city.

She believed this despite the fact that it was also the city where, when she was 9 years old, the police rounded up 13,000 of the city’s Jews, 4,000 of them children, and crammed them into Vélodrome d’Hiver, a cycling stadium, before shipping them to their deaths at Auschwitz. Ms. Knoll narrowly escaped this largest French deportation of Jews during the Holocaust and fled to Portugal with her mother.

After the war, she married a man who had survived Auschwitz. She returned to her native land where she built a home and raised a family. French to her core, she stayed in Paris even as her grandchildren moved to Israel.

She remained in her apartment in the 11th arrondissement when, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, she was stabbed 11 times. Her apartment was then set on fire. Firefighters found the burned body on Friday night.

Parisian authorities are investigating the murder as being motivated by the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion.” But euphemisms should have no place in describing the nature of Mireille Knoll’s death. She was murdered by men apparently animated by the same hatred that drove Hitler.

Two suspects, a 29-year-old and a 21-year-old, have been arrested. The older man is a neighbor Ms. Knoll has known since he was a child. The younger, according to reports, is homeless. One of the suspects told the investigators that the other had shouted “Allahu Akbar” while killing Ms. Knoll, according to Le Monde. (A lawyer for the Knoll family, Gilles-William Goldnadel, confirmed that in a phone call.) On Tuesday, Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, told Parliament that one of the attackers had told the other: “She’s a Jew. She must have money.”

In fact, Ms. Knoll was “poor,” according to her son, Daniel. She’d lived most of her life in the same apartment in the subsidized housing project where she was killed.

It’s a neighborhood that has already borne witness to a nearly identical crime. Almost exactly a year ago, a 65-year-old Jewish widow named Sarah Halimi was murdered by her neighbor, 27-year-old Kobili Traoré. Other neighbors said they heard Mr. Traoré scream “Allahu Akbar” as he beat Ms. Halimi, a retired doctor, to near death in the early hours of April 4, 2017. He then threw her body into the courtyard below.

It took months for Ms. Halimi’s murder to be categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime. “It was scandalous,” said Mr. Goldnadel, the lawyer, who also represented the Halimi family.

This time, French authorities have been quick to call the crime by its proper name. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “I would like to express my shock at the appalling crime committed against Mrs. Knoll. I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight anti-Semitism.” On Wednesday, he said that she was murdered “because she was Jewish” at a tribute to a police officer killed in an Islamist attack. Mr. Macron has been widely praised by the country’s Jewish community for his moral clarity in describing anti-Zionism as a “reinvented form of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Semitism was supposed to be a disease of the far right. But the people actually killing Jews in France these days are not members of the National Front. They are Islamists.

“The major crimes against the Jewish community — Ilan Halimi, the Toulouse killings, the Hyper Cacher killings, Sarah Halimi — all of them have all been carried out by radicalized Muslims,” Robert Ejnes, the executive director of CRIF, an umbrella organization of French Jewish groups, told me in a call from Paris. “These young people have French identity cards, but they hate what France stands for. This is the nature of the problem we are facing. And it’s very hard to talk about.”

Here are some facts that are very hard to talk about: Jews represent less than 1 percent of the population in France, yet in 2014, 51 percent of all racist attacks were carried out against them, according to the French Interior Ministry. A survey from that year of about 1,000 French respondents with unknown religious affiliation and 575 self-identified Muslims, conducted by the AJC Paris and the French think tank Fondapol, found that the Muslim respondents were two or three times more likely to have anti-Jewish sentiments than those from the random French group. Nineteen percent of all respondents felt that Jews had “too much” political power. Among Muslims, the number was 51 percent. As for the idea that Zionism “is an international organization that aims to influence the world and society in favor of the Jews,” 44 percent of Muslims surveyed approved of this statement. The rest of the survey is just as devastating.

For years now, France has deployed armed troops to protect Jewish synagogues and schools. But the violence on the streets — a 15-year-old girl wearing the uniform of her Jewish school slashed in the face; an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah assaulted; teenage siblings called “dirty Jews” before being beaten — hasn’t abated. On Wednesday, hours before a march in honor of Mireille Knoll, the office of the Union of French Jewish Students at the Sorbonne was ransacked and defaced with graffiti like “Viva Arafat” and “death to Israel.”

Whatever else the investigation of Ms. Knoll’s murder might reveal, this much we know for certain: The men who are accused of killing her were living in a culture in which Jews are reviled on the far right and, increasingly, on the far left; in which sensitivity toward cultural differences have driven too many for too long to ignore the spread of an ancient hatred in a vicious new form; in which attacks on Jews have been explained away as politically motivated by events in the Middle East. In such a culture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some would come to the conclusion that Jewish blood is cheap.

In the wake of Ms. Knoll’s murder, all of the usual lines are being repeated. Anti-Semitism is the hatred that never dies. Violence that begins with the Jews never ends with them.

All of this is true. What’s also true is that anti-Semitism is the oldest hatred in the world because individual people have sustained it in every generation. It cannot be defeated until we look these people and their ideologies in the face.

Every French Jew — like millions of Jews throughout history — will have to make their own choice about whether to leave their homes for safer shores or to stay and fight for their rightful place in a country that prides itself on being a beacon of liberty and fraternity. But perhaps the better part of wisdom is with one of Mireille Knoll’s granddaughters, Noa Goldfarb. Following her grandmother’s murder, she wrote in a Facebook post from Israel: “Twenty years ago, I left Paris knowing that neither my future nor that of the Jewish People is to be found there.”

The article was published on The New York Times
 

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