Loyal today, traitor tomorrow – NAV NAV

Because my children and grandchildren have to be picked up immediately from Schiphol – they are flying in from Montreal – the alarm clock has already woken me up. I wanted to go back to bed, but instead I sit at my computer and write my diary. By the way, I wonder if my diary is a diary or a therapy for me. My answer, after a quick thought: therapy. When I write my diary, I filter what I can and cannot write down, and then I reflect on the past day(s). And that filtering and thinking is a good thing for me and brings me mental peace.

And I definitely need that, because I get quite a lot to process. One of the rabbis from Ukraine, whom I know only superficially, lived in G. but is now a refugee in Berlin and cannot go back. The reason: G. had been captured by the Russians. The rabbi remained in G. and, the report says, did not want to give up his kehila. And ‘while the Russian and Ukrainian bullets flew around his ears’, he continued to help where needed with food parcels for the sick and frail elderly. In his shul came Russian-Jewish soldiers Davvenen. G. has since been recaptured by the Ukrainians and is accused of treason because he sheltered the Russian soldiers. His good friend has been arrested for hiding a Russian pilot when the Ukrainians had recaptured G. and returned him safely to the Russian troops a few streets away. He faces a life sentence.

One of my dear friends, one of the refugee rabbis from Ukraine, believes that his colleague has been too kind to the Russians. If you have been supported by Ukraine for decades and now choose the Russians and deal with them without batting an eyelid, then you were wrong. My rabbi friend also finds it unacceptable that the rabbi, who now practices his profession in Crimea, went with the Russians and did not run away immediately after the invasion.

Oops, I spontaneously thought. I was also, especially as a guest of Putin, received with great honor in Crimea after the peninsula was conquered by Russia. A monument was unveiled to commemorate the Jews who died in World War II. I saw Putin as a great friend of Jews and Israel. I have another beautiful picture of Putin with the rabbis in the Kremlin. According to my rabbi friend, I should never have gone to Putin. But yes, turning down an invitation could have its consequences back then.

Oops, I spontaneously thought. I was once, especially as a guest of Putin, received with great honor in Crimea

To be honest with myself, I was just extremely honored to be part of an EU rabbinical delegation invited to the Kremlin. Add to that the fact that I never had a top hat (hat) of Ukraine and all its mass graves and had just visited the Jewish Museum in Moscow. Because in that museum founded by Putin I had seen the most horrible pictures of the Ukrainian massacres in the Second World War, and my antipathy for that country acquired a sensitive boost. And now, just a few years later, no decent person can accept how the Russians are treating Ukraine, and the anti-Ukrainian boost is completely gone with me.

I received a shocking phone call from overseas. A father is seriously ill and has only a short time to live. His daughter, who lives in Israel, gets my help. Her brother, who has been in a psychiatric hospital in the Netherlands for decades, is threatened with deportation. Or I can help. And then I go to work. The daughter was supposed to call back at 6pm yesterday. It didn’t happen. A lawyer I wanted to hire and with whom I once had a conflict had been contacted by me. According to many, he could help in this situation. And my conflict from then has nothing to do with the present for me. Helping a fellow human being in great need surpasses everything for me. The lawyer would call me back. It didn’t happen!

Good and bad. Loyal or traitor. Proactive engagement and laziness. It is often complicated.

In the meantime, just returned from Sofia, which has been philosophizing for two days hate speech, a door was kicked into Lochem in front of the house where the pillar stone had been placed some time ago. The perpetrator must and must be found, says mayor Sebastiaan van ‘t Erve. There is no place for anti-Semitism in his congregation. We will publicly light the menorah together on Thursday 22 December. And after the ceremony a lecture from me about freedom. The essence of freedom, I will tell you, is: freedom must be limited. But where that limitation lies is difficult. Requires his purity of mind, true piety and fear of God. Should the Ukrainian rabbi have extradited the Russian pilot to Ukraine? Is it correct that because of a conflict from years and years ago, the lawyer is not responding? Could I have visited and almost worshiped Putin at that time?

My daughter just informed me that they landed at Schiphol and that the flight attendants complimented her on the behavior of her six young children. Such a thing is called a Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of G’d’s Name, or in modern terminology: good PR for Jews and Israel!

This is a personal diary of the chief rabbi and falls outside the responsibility of the editors.

Leave a Comment