European Jewish Association

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!