I have been away just for private reasons. A bar Mitzvah a grandson in Brooklyn, New York. No news all and there is no reason to share this event via the media. However, it does matter to separate strictly private from public. In my opinion there should be no difference in public and private in the life of a rabbi. Private and public should not exist as different categories, everthing is private or public for that matter. Besides, I believe that my collegueas should have the same attitude. But why do I share the bar Mitzva of my grandson? The reason for this came on Sunday. In the evening I would fly back home. Just after Succoth I did the last shoppings on Kingston Avenue, a kind of Chassidic Kalverstraat, we almost couln't move through. We were not the only ones who were here in this big Chassidic neighnourhood during Succoth. The area is like to the Mea Sjearim in Jerusalem.
I was stopped by a man: "Are you perhaps Rabbi Jacobs". The man is busy to register upcoming antisemitism in the United States. A little trigger and suddenly a dam will burst! Europe will become one big graveyard for the Jews. After listening to him I asked myself whether this might be a bit exaggerated, my wife and I are walking cozily further on. We met people we know and who know us, like it happens allways in such a Jewish kalverstraat. and we know a lot of people in these circles and they know us. But now I come to the point. Almost everybody was very concerned about the growing antisemitism, especially in Europe. ‘When I was in Italy’, somebody confided me ‘I put a baseball cap on instead of my hat’. Others tell me not to go to France. And again other people understand that it is a religous duty not to leave the Jewish community in the Netherland, but after all...
After a flight of 6 hours and 45 minutes I am home again, at least at Schiphol Airport. My volunteer driver of 'Christenen voor Israël' is faithfully waiting for us (complying with the expression ‘Bring the Jews to their Home’) I was already busily calling, a young orthodox Jewish couple approached me. I do not know them and the did not know me. They missed the Airplane of Britisch Arways to Manchester, due to a delay of the flight from Tel Aviv. British Arways told them that they were not responsable for the delay of the plane from Tel Aviv. So they had to buy new expensive tickets. I try to help and console them, while I had to solve a little row and to help a lady with emotional problems. I am back home again.
After the period of the High Holidays we must get back to daily life. Because the Holidays are days of inspiration aimed at serving the Eternal One in our daily lives. it is no art in being devout on Yom Kippur and to have G’d in mind all the day. That is not what the Eternal One expects from us. It is exactly in the the situation of spiritual exile where risk of secularisation is always lurking, where antisemitism is rising and where people need help, exactly in this situation the Eternal One wants us to keep Him in mind and serve Him always. We must make a Temple and a shrine of ourselves, and from our private and professional lives, despite all ordeals we must transform darkness into Light. On to Chanuka!
Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi