Because the NIW devotes no less than 4 pages to the Jewish Congregation Zeeland because of the inauguration of a new Torah, last Sunday, and because I also pay attention to this in my NIW-column, I limit myself here with a short but powerful: great how the Jewish Congregation Zeeland functions. Unity, attention for everyone who enters, respect for the basis of Judaism, namely Torah and Tradition. That Sunday, the Zeeland Day was a good reflection of what a Rabbi should do. A number of individual conversations with a pastoral character, a conversation about a Halachic issue, a visit to the sick, the dedication of the new Torah for the wider community and networking, through conversations with the Queen's Commissioner, a mayor and with my former colleague Mrs Peijs, former minister and former Queen's Commissioner in the province of Zeeland. Ex-colleague, I hear you think? Yes, former colleague, because for years we were both members of the Committee of Recommendation for the Middelburg Synagogue Foundation. By the way, being a member of a Committee of Recommendation is a fairly simple task. The only thing you do is sitting in that committee, nothing else. By the way, while writing this diary, I am sitting again. But now I am in a plane on my way to Budapest for a conference of the EJA, the Jewish European Association. Blouma flew yesterday (to Budapest that is). The conference will be about Shechina, freedom of religion etc. But also the participants will go to the Danube, to the monument of the shoes. Here Jews were gathered, they had to take off their shoes, stand on the edge of the quay and then be shot. The clear blue Danube of today was coloured red then. I am going to say kadiesh there and already know that my thoughts will wander to Mariupol because of a phone call that Rabbi Mendel Kohen gave me in the car on the way to Middelburg. The attention of Mariupol is waning, but the catastrophe continues. Fellow human beings are being killed, starved and slaughtered, betrayals are taking place, while I am sitting comfortably in the aeroplane now and will be standing by the Danube tomorrow.
An article I had recently read echoes through my head.
"One in five pregnancies in Israel is terminated by abortion,' I read in a full-page article in the Reformation newspaper. But "fortunately" there is a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity and who is now fighting against abortion in Israel, with "conversion" as a by-product. A half-page photo of two children playing in the old very orthodox quarter of Jerusalem accompanied the article. I was shocked, because such an unproven claim breeds unconscious anti-Semitism. Please realise, dear reader, that most readers of the RD are of the opinion that abortion is murder. And so it says here, in veiled but nevertheless clear terms, that in Israel twenty per cent of mothers are murderers. In passing, it also states that one of her patients had been advised by a rabbi to have an abortion, so rabbis incite murder! And I am 100% sure that in the orthodox Jewish neighbourhood abortion will be a very big rarity! I have a hard time with this article!
Let me be very clear: Traditional Judaism is against abortion. Unless the life of the mother is in danger. In the unlikely event of having to choose between the life of the mother and the life of the child, Judaism chooses the mother. But do you really think that any hair on my head would think of devoting a full-page article to the mothers who died on the authority of the Church and accompanying it with a large photograph of a Christian cemetery in Staphorst and thereby unconsciously creating the false impression that this cemetery is full of mothers who...
Tolerance has its limits, but love your neighbour as yourself should have no limits. And so, no untruths should be used to proclaim truths! Tolerance has limits, but decency should be unlimited.
During the corona period and afterwards Chief Rabbi Jacobs kept a diary for the Jewish Cultural Quarterly. NIW publishes these special pieces on www.niw.nl