European Jewish Association

Reflections on life and the polish animal welfare law from our advisory board member Rabbi Binyomen Jacobs

A healthy winter!

During the war, Germans who had volunteered to join the SS and the SD and Dutch collaborators of the Nazis were buried in the municipalities where they had been killed or shot.

After the war, the municipalities where those Jew hunters and other beasts were buried no longer wanted to tolerate having these remains in their local cemeteries.

The Ministry of Defence then made a piece of land available in Ysselsteyn where they had to be reburied. That killing field in Ysselseteyn is therefore a collection bin for SS beasts, Dutch SD men, collaborators, a number of whom had been shot by the resistance, and also “ordinary” German soldiers. The person who had Anne Frank and her family deported is also buried there.

A commemoration at a cemetery where only dead “ordinary” soldiers are buried, even if they were exclusively German soldiers, is a completely different story in my view.

Commemoration there is certainly worth considering. But here in Ysselsteyn paying tribute to traitors and murderers who have voluntarily chosen to murder my family and / or have them sent to the gas chambers? No way!

And so I still signed the petition, although by nature I am not a signer. I added my name to the petition to prevent anyone from thinking that I have forgiven them for their atrocities, because it happened so long ago, because it has now become history, because the crimes are barred…. So no.

Crimes of this kind against humanity cannot and must not expire and degenerate into an old episode in history. Am I hateful then? When the question arose years ago in the Sinai Center (Jewish psychiatric centre) whether we, as a Jewish institution, would like to treat children of parents who had dome wrong, I made it clear: certainly!

We must not punish children for their parents’ mistakes and I am grateful that I was able to help those victims of the war, because they too are victims of those horrible dark years.

Their parents’ opposition to my parents makes them no less victim, no less second generation. Of course we are talking about children who suffer because their parents were “wrong” in their view. I remember a meeting in Israel of my wife with a daughter of a German SS officer. Crying that daughter and my wife embraced each other: a heartbreaking and impressive scene!

And while I was able to confirm the above information about Ysselseteyn from my car, I was on my way to The Hague together with the secretary of the NIK. An appointment with the Ambassador of Poland, Mr Marcin Czepelak. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce this name. I notice that those ambassadors from those former Eastern bloc countries all have  unpronounceable names.) It was a good and friendly conversation. It was about the impending new law that wants to ban the export of kosher meat slaughtered in Poland.

Polish Jews will be allowed to continue to slaughter kosher for domestic use, but export? That should be a bridge too far. The ambassador understood well that this is not just a practical and business problem.

He foresaw very clearly that if Poland bans exports, several EU countries will follow and in the end there will no longer be kosher meat available within the EU, not even in the Netherlands. The Ambassador was in no doubt about that. But he also felt keenly that the ban on the export of kosher meat would hurt the Jewish community in its full breadth, would deeply affect their Jewishness. Jews who never eat kosher and perhaps consider kosher food as nonsense and out of date, the ambassador himself indicated, are equally affected by this measure. Because it may be that they don’t consume kosher meat, the ban on the export of kosher meat is an assault on their Jewish identity.

And now here I am at the end of this day, writing this diary to the digital paper and hopefully still with enough puff in me to dismantle the Sukkah (booth) tonight and put it away until next year. And until then? Hopefully, peace and a very soon deliverance from the evil that is called corona and also a proper return to Jewish life in our polder country.

Even on Yom Kippur, there were Jewish congregations that did not have shul service. And this year, far fewer booths that stood near the synagogues have to be demolished. The reason? Unfortunately they were not built because of corona! At the end of all these Jewish Holidays, we wish each other, and so do I: a healthy winter!

During corona time, Chief Rabbi Jacobs keeps a diary for the Jewish Cultural Quarter. NIW publishes these special documents daily on www.niw.nl.