Joods Maastricht

Website van de Joodse gemeente Maastricht

This is a diary, not a lament! Diary of the Chief Rabbi 23 February 2022

I am only just awake because I got home very late from a chassene (wedding party) in Antwerp. There were hundreds of guests and really a big Jewish party. I was sitting at the head table on a stage and received kind words, lots of kowed (honour) and recognition from all sides. My sense of pride blossomed! At 3 o'clock in the morning, I finally saw my bed after I had just not fallen asleep at the wheel. And now I am left with a hangover. Not from the alcohol, because we hardly ever drink in Orthodox Jewish circles, but because of my concern about Ukraine and the strongly growing anti-Semitism in our country and in the rest of Europe. Every day I am in contact with our courageous rabbis in Ukraine. Ukraine is, of course, not a problem that only affects Jews, but if anarchy were to arise unexpectedly in the so-called liberated areas, the Jewish community par excellence would be at the mercy of extremist gangs, many of whom are anti-Semitic. Yesterday, one of the Ukrainian rabbis thanked me extensively for my mediating role between his community and Christians for Israel. Because I have been the liaison between him and CoI, hundreds of poverty-stricken Jewish Ukrainians have been provided with medicine and food for years. His dramatically displayed gratitude reminded me of the notes thrown from the train from Westerbork to Auschwitz that often contained words of "thanks for the friendship and help and don't worry about us. See you soon!"

And then the second reason for my hangover: unfortunately, I was proven right. The postponement of the Universities' umbrella for the WOB investigation is nothing more than a postponement. Someone from Erasmus University (by the way, Erasmus was no friend of the Jewish people long before the existence of the State of Israel in 1948) has slyly seized upon the postponement to explain what noble intentions lie within Van Agt's little club. This was, of course, to be expected and I had already reacted to the postponement of the universities in the Jewish media and expressed my reservations. Unfortunately, I was right. A good friend of mine had told me that it is un-Jewish to think negatively and that I should see the letter from the umbrella organisation of universities as positive. Of course I see the letter as positive, but it has not eliminated anti-Semitism in universities.

Anyway, this is a diary, not a lament! My Blouma and I were visiting one of the directors of Jewish Netherlands. We are both the same age and therefore have the same experience of Jewish Holland. It was great to hear how many fronts this couple, as they both sat and are sitting on many boards, is and was active in. People who fought extremely hard in the shadow of the war to get the Jewish Netherlands back on its feet again. They have done a great deal for Israel, received a lot of honour, but almost as much criticism and envy. But it is precisely that envy and opposition that prove that they are and were really doing the right thing. I had thought that only rabbis could face opposition!

An administrator of one of my congregations told me the day before yesterday about the tremendous help they received as a Jewish Congregation from non-Jewish volunteers who for free restored the shul and did all the necessary maintenance on the cemetery so that shul and cemetery look like new again. To show their gratitude I have been asked by the board to give a lecture to this group on a subject of their choosing. I am happy to do so! We really do have friends, friends of Israel, friends who stand for and behind us and who fight to preserve the Jewish Community in the Netherlands.

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/.