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Publicity is a means, not an end! Diary of the Chief Rabbi 10 October 2021

The last few days things went well and unexpectedly well. The question comes to mind: What do you want to hear first? The positive or the negative? Reminds me of the woman who comes home after having gone shopping in her husband's very expensive car and tells her husband that she has good news and bad news and that he may indicate what she is going to tell first. Because her husband has a positive character, he wants to hear the good news first. To which the woman said, "the airbags in your new car worked really well."


To start with my negative experiences: my very expensive laptop, which has obediently helped me through the corona period, has the same ailment as me: the sleep mode doesn't work properly! When you are in sleep mode, it is supposed to be completely at rest and no energy should be lost. But that is what happens. Connected to the electricity, everything runs perfectly, but sleeping is not good. This afternoon I had wanted to be present in Winterswijk at the transfer of the synagogue to a foundation that will take over the management of the Jewish Congregation, but at a petrol station in Zutphen, where I wanted to have my tyre pressure checked, the valve of one of the tyres broke. And so my car had to be towed to Apeldoorn, I am now stuck with a hire car and I have to see how I can get my own car back. Moreover, tomorrow I have to go to Brussels for some rabbinical business on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning concerning a.o. gioer - accession - and then on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday a conference with directors of Jewish Congregations from all over Europe. Hopefully my computer problem and car trouble will not put too much of a damper on my spirits, because these kinds of technical disturbances make me feel quite disturbed. Also negative was the positively-intended effort by members of parliament to make Holocaust denial a punishable offence in our country as well, and I have been told that consideration is already being given to including the misuse of the yellow Jewish star in this law. The initiative is certainly very positive, but that it is necessary to make such a law is more than sad. So much for my negative experiences.


Positive was the impressive ceremony in Epe to place eight Stolpersteine. The organisation had prepared an impressive programme for this commemoration. Kol hakawod, we say in Hebrew. I also experienced as positive the discussion about the number of 102,000 victims of the Second World War. This figure of 102,000 Jewish victims also includes Roma and Sinti. But this figure does not include the hundreds who fled to their deaths immediately after the occupation and thus were given a grave in a Dutch Jewish cemetery, but are not among the Jewish victims of the Nazi regime! And also the hundreds who died immediately after the liberation as a result of the suffering in the concentration camp are not included in the figure of 102,000 murdered Dutch Jews. Also Jews who were murdered in camp Vught, camp Amersfoort, Ellecom or in Dutch prisons that had been taken over by the Nazis, do not count because they were given a grave in a Jewish cemetery. Also Jews who perished during escape attempts to Switzerland, did not survive the rough journey across the Pyrenees to Spain or died in hiding, are not included in the 102,000!


What I personally found positive is that the interview I had with a journalist from the Leeuwarder Courant on Thursday at our home was not only given two pages in the Leeuwarder Courant, but was also widely reported in De Telegraaf in its Saturday edition. It was a good interview and hopefully made a contribution to the fight against anti-Semitism and any other form of discrimination! For it may be that it gives me a good feeling to be in the public eye, but publicity is a means and should never become an end!


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