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Diary of September 19, 2021 by Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

In the week before Rosh Hashanah and the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, many visit the graves of parents and relatives. And so, naturally, I was also present at various cemeteries to lead the prayers and to speak words of inspiration. At one of those gatherings there were nine of us, but unexpectedly a tenth one appeared, the minyan. For a reason that is not relevant to my diary, he came out of nowhere. After the ceremony he told me that more than sixty years ago he had also been asked to be the minyan for the shul service on Yom Kippur. He had just become engaged and an uncle of his bride-to-be asked him to come to shul on Yom Kippur: he would be the minyan man. The young man agreed on the condition that the almost new uncle would also close his business on Yom Kippur. But that was asking too much. Uncle did come to shul on Yom Kippur and encouraged others to do so too, but he forgot that the other one would lose a day's income because he didn't show up for work one day, while uncle dearest, a director of a large company and very wealthy, wouldn't earn a penny less. How did it end? The fianc√© and uncle both put their Jewish foot down and so there was no minyan that year! In our many Shuls of 5782, there was a good turnout on Yom Kippur this year. A little less than before the corona era, but significantly better than last year. Understandably, there are still people who are extra careful  and dare not enter the shul. In a conversation with one of my faithful (and experienced) directors, we talked about restoring the shul attendance to the pre-Coronian times. How can we get everyone back on board? And so, of course, the shul service on Simchat Torah (Joy of the Law) and the lunch that goes with it were discussed. To my remark that we can count on a large turnout because of the meal, he responded with "If the Jewish Congregation is only eating and drinking, call it a canteen. I thought that was nice of him, although for me "Better to go to a kosher canteen than to miss it". Of course I was preoccupied with the fuss in Urk, but I had already written about that in my previous diary. In any case, it was wise of me to put my speech in writing, as a very rare exception, as I was completely misquoted by a local newspaper. I had indicated that the Mayor of Urk had immediately sent me an e-mail to apologise, and I had emphasised in my speech that the young people (hopefully and I assume) may not have had ill intentions, but did not realise how sensitive their 'game' could appear. In that case, and in general, much more needs to be done on "education and upbringing". Then I warned about the danger of refugees from countries where the youth was raised with hatred of Israel and the Jews, and stressed that there too, investment should be made in (re)education, to prevent problems in the future. The local newspaper, however, had 'heard' in my words that I was not satisfied with the excuse of the mayor. Clever, that a journalist can hear in my words what I say (logical!), but also knows what I 'think' (brilliant!) and thus knew to tell that I said A and meant B. How am I going to react to this? Not at all, because in situations like this, a reaction triggers a counter-reaction and I help to waste my own time and to fill up the newspaper.


This is about the last few days. I am about to leave for Weesperstraat in Amsterdam to be present at the unveiling of the Wall of Names. There has been a lot of talk about the Wall of Names. I haven't followed all that, but I think it's a good thing. None of the victims, including many relatives of my dear parents, received a tombstone. So now I feel they have. But apart from this: the monument is a powerful confrontation, education, warning. Because, as I mentioned during my speech in Enschede at the commemoration of the first razzia: history could easily repeat itself again!


During the coronation period Chief Rabbi Jacobs kept a diary for the Jewish Cultural Quarter. NIW publishes these special pieces on https://niw.nl/category/dagboek/