Remembrance at Auschwitz

November 15, 2021

EUROPEAN lawmakers and Jewish communal figures commemorated the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht during a ceremony at Auschwitz on Tuesday, calling for enduring memory and education to counter the forces of hatred.
Capping off a conference on antisemitism organised by the European Jewish Association, the delegation – including representatives of more than two dozen countries – held a short candlelighting ceremony, before laying wreaths at the “death wall” where thousands of inmates were killed by firing squad.
“On this day exactly 83 years ago, hundreds of Jews were murdered, fathers, mothers, children, by my countrymen, in my country,” said Stefanie Hubig, the education minister for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. “Synagogues and prayer houses were set on fire, Jewish cemeteries were devastated. Countless people were arrested and deported to Nazi concentration camps.”
Hubig added, “There is still antisemitism in Germany, and I am ashamed of it, deeply”
Igor Zorcic, president of the Slovenian National Assembly, referenced more recent atrocities in his remarks.
“Unfortunately, present times do not always prove that our promises of ‘never again’ are entirely sincere,” he said. “Remember Srebrenica – and don’t underestimate the seriousness of the current political friction over genocide.”
He was referring to the 1992 massacre at Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where 7000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men were slaughtered by Serbian forces.
Addressing the delegation in Krakow a night earlier, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chairman of Yad Vashem and a Holocaust survivor, said Kristallnacht underlined how much the world is willing to ignore human suffering.
“[Kristallnacht] was a test to humanity, to all the nations, to all the globe, how would they react,” said the former chief rabbi of Israel. “In my eyes it was a test,” he said, noting how little international outcry followed.
“Ask in your cities, in the archives, for the newspapers of November 10, 11 and 12, 1938: What is written in the newspapers about Kristallnacht? Almost nothing.”
https://www.australianjewishnews.com/remembrance-at-auschwitz/

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Vaccine loses to the Minister
 
Today my eyes fell on Michel Waterman’s column in the NIW in which he writes: “I have to hand in my column today and I don’t have a subject yet. I can tell you that my admiration for columnists who produce on a daily basis has greatly increased.”
After reading this I flattered myself wondering if that compliment was meant for me. And so the question arose in my mind: Am I a rabbi or a columnist? But then I also thought back to that psychotherapist who saw my diary as a therapy. After some thinking I came to the conclusion that my diary is a combination of 1: rabbi 2: columnist 3: therapy.
 
And so Waterman’s compliment was not addressed to me. A pity, because every now and then I do need a pat on the back (with the elbow of course, because of corona!), Especially when I’m under fire again.
 
A somewhat out-of-context headline made a few front pages, after which people responded. That was great because it means I don’t write for deaf ears – my message gets through.
 
What almost bothered me was that a (foreign) colleague, who apparently has little else to do than follow my diary, got in touch with a non-Jewish journalist to protest against the (admittedly clumsy) headline.
 
It went through my mind to send him a WhatsApp with my phone number. Then at the next opportunity he can first make a phone call before turning a molehill into a mountain. But I did not send that WhatsApp and I am not going to send it. Reason?
I Learned from the conversation between Avraham and Lot about which was read last Shabbath in all the synagogues of the world: “A strife arose between the herdsmen of the flocks of Awram and the herders of the flocks of Lot…. Then Awram said to Lot, Let there be
 
no strife between me and you, and between my shepherds and your shepherds…. if it is to the left, I will go to the right, if it is to the right, then I will go to the left (Bereshis/ Genesis 13: 7-9).
 
Why, we may ask, did Abraham leave the choice to Lot? The area, later Israel, was nevertheless the property of Avraham. G-d had promised him this piece of land. He could have shown Lot that he had the best papers!? If we take a grammatical look at the Hebrew
 
text, we see that the Hebrew word for contention is the first time in the masculine form and the second time in the feminine form. Quarrels arise most quickly between people who spend a lot of time together. So,the most appropriate place for disputes is marriage! How do we handle this? Should the man try to be right? Should the woman stand firm?
 
The best way to deal with (marital) differences of opinion is: accept! And that is why the word twist is once in the feminine inflection and once in the masculine. Avraham understood that he could have been right with Lot, but also realized that it is better to just let the adversary, Lot in this case, have his way.
 
And so I will not approach my old colleague on this and when we meet again, just pretend my nose is bleeding! Therapeutically (3) I have written it off with this one, I have made a column (2) of it and, most importantly, I have learned (1) from our patriarch Abraham!
 
So, what we notice is that people are often unable to see and / or think outside their own limited cocoon. Such a thing is called egotosm, a consequence of the idol ‘I’.
 
And that problem is unfortunately frequently encountered in our society and can be very harmful.
 
Dr. Marcel Levi, medical director of ten London hospitals and the son of my former president of the Sinai Center, believes the corona vaccine should be administered now. But the British Minister does not want that yet because perhaps one in 50,000 could suffer from an adverse reaction because the vaccine has not yet been 100% tested. Levi explained to the Minister that even if one in 50,000 gets an unwanted side effect, it is still worth using the vaccine now as it can prevent hundreds from becoming infected with corona and a general lockdown of society. severely dislocated.
 
The Minister responded to this, according to the newspaper that Dr. Levi quoted that if hundreds die from corona, he, the Minister, will hardly be blamed. But if even one person falls victim to the vaccine he has approved, he will be inundated with criticism. The British Minister is thus also a follower of the idol ‘I’, like my colleague, except that the behaviour of the Minister, G-d forbid, causes people to die, but the behaviour of my colleague has a positive result: a topic for my day!
 
 

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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 7 Feb. 2021
“The attention for Israel is increasing in many Dutch Churches. Yet it can do a bit more. The Hersteld Reformed Church (HHK) has now once again put its vision on paper. The Church is called to expose anti-Semitism as hatred against the G-d of Israel, ”I read in the Reformed Daily.
At the end of the article, different Christian denominations reported their attitude towards Jews. What interested me, of course, was their attitude towards converting Jews and their views on replacement theology.
Just a brief explanation for my Jewish and less Christian-savvy Gentile diary readers:
Replacement theology proclaims that wherever in the Tanakh the Jewish people are mentioned, they should be replaced by “Christians.”
This theology has been the source of a great deal of anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews over the centuries. To briefly summarize an interesting article: the various denominations have different opinions about how to look at Jews and how they should or should not be converted. And that urge or desire to convert made me think on Sunday (the Christian day of rest!).
It is a fact that the urge to convert has led to millions of victims over the centuries. That replacement theology is therefore experienced as an extremely reprehensible act to me.
But how do I view a Christian who wants to convert me? Can I accept that? Obviously I will not be converted and will actively fight attempts to convert, but… Do I think the other should have the desire to convert me?
We Jews have it easy because we believe that Jews should serve the Eternal in a Jewish way, but Gentiles don’t.
The so-called Seven Noahide Laws apply to them. If the non-Jew lives according to these laws, but still a whole package, then that is fine. Then, I asked myself, will I try to convince secular Gentiles to abide by these laws? And shall I point so-called Messiah professing Jews to their error? And my answer is a clear “yes”.
But, I then asked myself, then I also do a mission! Look at Hanukkah when we publicly light the Menorah? That is not just any fun party. It has a clear message: bringing light to spiritual darkness! And why am I nagging when Christians want to convert us?
It was an interesting and fierce discussion with myself, but in the end I think I was right. I believe, I am even convinced, that every believing Christian would like to see me transition to Christianity.
I will never do that because 1: I will have lost my job as Chief Rabbi and 2: As a Jew I am rock solid in my faith and (unfortunately for the missionary) I will really not be able to get rid of it. But: how do I view that missionary, the urge to convert or, even if no conversion attempt is made, the phenomenon that, although I must now be left alone, there is the firm conviction that I will eventually see the “light”?
I came to the conclusion that I have no problem with this. Every person is allowed to think and believe as he likes. Every person may think of me that his way of life is the right one and the other is wrong. But the moment his faith gives or calls to kill the dissenters, to bribe them with money or to blackmail them spiritually, then it becomes unacceptable to me.
Incidentally, the conversion was completely snowed in by the media report that two drugs have been discovered in Israel that appear to cure corona patients. So, no vaccines, but medicines. The FD speaks of a “game changer”. I sincerely hope that it will become apparent very soon that it does indeed work and will thus create a gigantic global breakthrough. It is also great that Israel will provide that breakthrough. Makes me feel great and proud. But of course, it will also be a wonderful opportunity to confirm the conspiracy theories. Jews are guilty of corona and see the evidence: they are now going to make money on the drug again. Will the International Court of Justice in The Hague also interfere with this and will our pharmacies be raided immediately that do not mention “made in Israel” in their package insert? Because there will probably be a complaint or a UN resolution because perhaps one of the doctors who made the discovery is living in the “occupied territories”.
And if not, probably one of the patients who has been cured with one of these drugs. Or am I thinking too negative? Because also mobile phones, computers and many other medicines of global value and “made in Israel” have never been boycotted.
 

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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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