Tzedakah” - Stories of righteous ones in the Netherlands
- Saving Jews & others from the Nazis
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Elisha ben Avraham
Part One of
this book takes us on a journey, this is a journey taken by the Children of
Israel historically, from Egypt
to the “Land
and Honey,” and later in dispersion to Europe,
especially the Netherlands.
Whilst Part Two of this book covers many remarkable and heroic stories
by the wonderful people in the Netherlands
during World War II who saved Jewish and other lives, whilst putting their own
life in grave danger. The author, Reuben
ben Gershom has a close affiliation with the subject, as it is very close to
his heart, being a Dutch born Hebrew (Jewish person).
Below we see a photograph of the Dutch born Reuben
(in Hebrew it is ‘Reuven’), which was taken during his visit to the
in 1987 and 1988. His Dutch Hebrew affiliation with this land and the Holocaust
during WW2 is very close to him, for WW2 had a devastating effect on his
family’s life, as it did on him!
the famous watchmakers shop at the home of Casper ten Boom and his family who
Jews in his daughter’s (Corrie) bedroom wardrobe that had a false door in
heroic story can be found in chapter 12.
is another photograph taken eighteen years later in 2005 when Reuben
was back to the Netherlands
during a speaking engagement there, as well in Germany, and he is seen in Amsterdam’s
famous “Portuguese Synagogue”, and as you will discover he looked a
little different from his early days! Currently in 2021, Reuben is now
obviously considerably older, but our loving Father in Heaven continues to take
care of him.
is seen during his visit to the Netherlands
the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam
in April 2005
As stated, Reuben
was born in the Netherlands
and sadly his Mother Judith
being a young child suffered the turmoil’s of World War II long after its
end. Due to his Mother’s wartime experience she sadly had become a most
unsettled lady, and this continued for the rest of her life. Judith was better known to her many
friends in her later life when living in New Zealand and also Australia
by the shortened name of “Jo,” and for some reason she
never lived in one place for more than nine or ten months at the time, be it in
a city, town or a country. She tended to move from one place to another
location almost every ten months. Reuben can well
remember, back in Europe as a child they lived in Rotterdam
Holland in various houses, then it was off to Germany,
and then she returned to Amsterdam.
never knew what it was like living in one place, or what a home was!
All this had much to do due to his Mother
having a great fear of what had occurred during the war and she hid anything
regarding her life. Reuben remembers
clearly that every year around March/April his Mother would eat Matzah
(Unleavened bread), although it was later that Reuben discovered
that it was during the very time of “Pesach” (Passover). He
remembers that the Matzah was eaten heated over the gas fire, thus warm with
butter and a small sprinkle of sugar, thus it became more of a sweet, possibly
this was done as a disguise.
But she somehow she continued the eating of
Matzah but she never told Reuben why
they ate it each and every year, but he loved it and always looked forward to
It is at this point a special story needs to
be told, that when Reuben
was still young and was living in Amsterdam.
Where they lived, there were many orthodox and other Jewish folk, and as it
turned out, one of Reuben’s
friends happened to be Jewish. One day when Reuben
was invited to his friends’ home he noticed that they were also having
Matzah, as it happened to be the very time of the Passover feast. He said
“We eat this at home” and the boy’s father asked, “Reuben, you eat Matzah at your
replied, “Yes, every year around this time
we eat it for a whole week.” The father then asked, “I did not know
you where Jewish?” Reuben replied
“I do not know anything about being Jewish.” After this the Father
explained a few things to him about Passover and its meaning.
When his Mother arrived home later that day, Reuben asked her “Are we
Jewish”, her reply was nothing short from a happy one, but that is
another story. However, from that day Reuben
knew the truth, but kept it very much to himself. Thus the War had taken a huge
toll on his Mother, which meant it affected him greatly for well over 20 plus
years, but Reuben
does not wish the devastating story to be told, as obviously is was a painful
Then having spent time travelling throughout
Europe, by May 1958, his Mother decided that they would move to New
and she booked to sail on the “Rotterdam Lloyd” liner M.S. Sibajak,
which would sadly depart, on a Saturday, being the Jewish Sabbath day, Saturday
May 17, 1958. Thus on May 16, being Reuben birthday, they headed off by train
from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, and in Rotterdam they
stayed at a hotel, and departed from Rotterdam
on the ship, which sailed via the UK, Curaçao, the Panama Canal and Tahiti
bound for Wellington
New Zealand, where they arrived on Sunday June 22, 1958.
Upon arrival in Wellington, they travelled north to the city of
and his Mother would live for the next ten months. But as his Mother continued
her regular moving to another location, they moved to Auckland,
then to back
next to Wanganui, and more to Wellington
and in due course back to Auckland.
Having been in New Zealand
for five years, in 1963, Reuben’s
Mother and he became naturalised citizens of New Zealand and now having
a New Zealand Passport, his
Mother decided to move once again, but this time she headed for Melbourne,
sailing on the Orient liner S.S.
But it did not take long for Mother to decide to head back to the Netherlands
by ship in 1964, but in February 1965 they returned to Auckland New Zealand
and again by sea for his Mother loved ocean life and living in style.
Thereafter Reuben suffered a very sad and a much troubled time with his Mother
whilst they were in Auckland, it came to a
point that Reuben was forced to leave home and later he settled in Australia
in the 1960s for he had to set himself free from his Mother’s powerful
hold on him with her many problems that effected her, and his life, but he was
finally free and his only desire now was to be a good and a faithful Jew!
In Australia he became a successful business
man and some time later he met and married his one love Davina (Betty) under
the Chuppa (canopy) in his beloved Synagogue on September 5, 1971 (15 Ellul
Being a devout Jew, Reuben
gave much of himself in the service of his community and his Synagogue. He
faithfully supported the “JNF” (Jewish National Fund), and
amazingly became the very first male member of “WIZO”
(Woman’s International Zionist Organisation). His tireless duties saw him
receive a number of awards from the Australian and International Hebrew
organisations. Both “JNF” and “WIZO” honoured him for
his services and he was made the Patron of “Hauzat
being an orphanage in Haifa
His Working life.
His civil working life was mostly spent in the
travel/shipping industry, staring with “Royal Dutch Mails” (Royal
& the Netherland Line) as, what was called in those days a
“beginner” in 1960, but soon he was a travel consultant on the
passenger-shipping desk. He was then asked to join the “Union Steamship
Co” of NZ in 1961, and he became much loved and very successful there. So
much so, one day a came a call from Australia
for him to manage the General Sales Agency (GSA) of a very popular and major
passenger shipping company “Chandris Lines” which was in the
1960’s. In due course when passenger liners lost the migrant trade due to
air travel, he worked together with another company he set up a new cruise
company and operated the company, which was marketed under the name of
“Celebrity Club Cruises” in the mid 70’s. He was also
involved with setting up a number of very successful travel agencies including
“Jetset” with Marie
Julius and Tony
He was also founder and CEO of “Coronet Travel Service”, “CTS
and “FunPac Tours” and so much more.
A tragic history remembered and experienced.
By 1977, Reuben had become a young leader in
his community, and he wrote a book entitled “The Faith of the Chosen,” which included details of the many evils that the
“Christian Church” had imposed on the Jewish people over the
centuries and being an Orthodox Jew, Reuben had what could well be called a dislike
of Christians, due to the ongoing anti-Semitism, that he himself and his people
had suffered by the hands of those who called themselves
“Christians.” Tragically, throughout history there was a large
section of these supposed ‘Christians’ who opposed and hated
“THE Jews.” History has it well recorded that the Roman
and its Inquisitors, as well as the Crusaders murdered countless thousands of
Jews on their unsubstantiated belief that “the Jews murdered Christ.” Reuben
was also aware of that so-called Christian reformer, Martin
who towards the end of his life penned an evil book in 1543, entitled
“The Jews and their Lies,” outlining his absolute hatred of the
Jewish people. Later, Hitler (who by birth and baptism was a Roman Catholic)
with his hatred of the “Juden,” actually used Luther’s book
to justify his criminal actions that saw six million Jews, and many more
millions of other innocents slaughtered during Ha Shoah - the Holocaust. The
point was, Reuben can remember the many times he was himself at the receiving
hand of severe anti-Semitism, often in the most public of places, once even at
a supermarket checkout, when a man noticed Reuben, who was wearing a skullcap
under his hat that showed, and the man said, “Well Hitler hasn’t
done much of a job, has he, that (*******) Jew is still alive!” And that
was in Brisbane, Australia.
is now well aware that there are countless good people and those that are
Christians who had no hand in these evil crimes whatsoever, for if they did, it
would have negated their faith as found in the writings of the “New
Testament”. And the truth is that in “Dutch Tzedakah” you
will discover a wonderful record of many Christians who rescued Dutch Jews and
others from the “Shoah,” the Holocaust in the Netherlands!
Reuben beloved wife, Davina (Betty),
sadly passed away on 27 Tebeth 5164 (January 18, 2004).
His Mother, Judith,
passed away on 12 Kislev 5766 (December 13, 2005).
has no relatives from the Dutch side in the world, as sadly are all long gone!
Reuben had speaking engagements throughout Australia
and around the world. Although myself the author of this page came from a Greek
background, have worked closely with Reuben
since 1983 and travelled with him as his assistant and his personal secretary.
But together, we have and taught Scriptural Hebrew and Greek, which is a
blessing from our beloved Father in Heaven!
Besides having travelled all over Australia
many times from 1984 to 1988 continuously (and again later), Reuben and myself
since have travelled the world on a good number of occasions and visited:
Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Israel and
various other Middle Eastern countries, South Africa and other southern and
African northern countries. Not to forget Europe, England, The Netherlands,
Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece,
Finland, Sweden, also the United States, Mexico, Panama, Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga,
Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. Reuben has also been the official
historian of the famous book-ship the M.V. Doulos of 1914,
and has spent a great deal of time on her as well as having sailed on her as a
special (speaking) guest, teaching the volunteer crew on board. His last voyage
was in August 2008. The Doulos has now been retired.
Whilst Reuben was in the Netherlands
in 1987/88, 1998 and again in 1999, Reuben
spent considerable time researching the subject of this work, as it was of a
personal interest and being very close in his heart, and his family having been
touched and hurt by WW2. He interviewed countless people in the Netherlands,
including those who were directly involved, or those who spoke for their late
I am sure that this book will be of interest
to many as it follows a path of Abraham, from Ur,
to the Promised Land, then to Egypt
and back to the land our Father had given to him. Later, the Hebrews once again
returned to Egypt
but that time it due to a drought and because Joseph
had called for his father and family to come Egypt.
returned to the Land of “Milk and Honey” they had some good and
some terrible times, due to as the Scriptures clearly speak of those who did
great evil in worshipping pagan gods, thus they were captured and later
returned to their own land. But again, the land was finally captured once more
just as it had been prophesied, but this time it was by Rome.
Sadly after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Children of Israel were
dispersed to the four corners of the earth, including to Europe, then after the
horrors of the Holocaust thankfully many returned again to modern “State
of Israel,” but sadly Israel’s rocky road continues to this very
day and it will until a time to come!
This book was originally printed in The
Netherlands in Dutch in a hard cover and it was a great success. It
should be noted that Reuben
gave 100% of the proceeds to charity. I trust that you will find something
special in its pages! For
wrote originally in English and it was then translated into Dutch.
Elisha ben Avraham.
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