Amsterdam Mayor Lights Hanukkah Candles Against Intolerance

At a public lighting of Hanukkah candles, Amsterdam’s acting mayor urged Jews to celebrate their faith openly to counter rising levels of anti-Semitism.

“The answer to intolerance lies precisely in demonstrating freedom of worship and of expression,” Eric van der Burg said Tuesday, lighting the first candle of the holiday. Gesturing toward the three-foot menorah on display at a square in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, he added: “This is a shining example of this.”

Anti-Semitic incidents increased dramatically in the Netherlands during Israel’s summer war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The CIDI watchdog group registered 105 complaints during the two-month operation. The organization registered 147 the whole of 2013.

Yanki Jacobs, a Chabad rabbi from Amsterdam who lit the menorah with the mayor, thanked him.“The message is that you can’t fight darkness with darkness,” Jacobs said.

Public Hanukkah celebrations are a recent development in Europe. In the Netherlands, the lightings are spearheaded by pro-Israel and pro-Jewish Christians.

On Thursday, Dutch chief rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, Yanki Jacobs’ father, lit a 36-foot menorah in the small city of Urk near Amsterdam at a ceremony attended by hundreds of Christian Zionists. The menorah, built last year by the Christians for Israel organization, a is believed to be Europe’s largest.

Earlier this week, Jacobs attended another Hanukkah ceremony in the southern city of Middleburg, where Mayor Harald Bergmann presented a royal decoration to two of the local Jewish community’s pioneers who had been knighted. Aryeh and Rachel Herz, 72 and 73 respectively, were made knights in the Netherlands’ Order of Orange-Nassau for their efforts to rebuild their community’s synagogue, among other projects.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Amsterdam Mayor Lights Hanukkah Candles Against Intolerance

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close