“Dutch Tzedakah” - Stories of righteous ones in the Netherlands - Saving Jews from the Nazis

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Dutch Tzedakah - "The Fruit of Righteous is a Tree of Life" Prov 11:19


About the Author

By Kosta Specis

Part One of this book takes us on a journey, a journey taken by the Children of Israel historically, from Egypt to the “Land of Milk and Honey,” and later in dispersion to Europe. Whilst in Part Two of this book covers many remarkable and heroic stories by the people of the Netherlands during World War II who saved Jewish lives. The author, Reuven ben Gershom-Goossens has an obvious affiliation with the subject, as it is very close to his heart, being a Dutch born Jew.

Below we see a photograph of Reuven ben Gershom taken during our very first visit to the Netherlands in 1987 when his Hebrew roots were still rather obvious! Down the page is another photograph taken some eighteen years later, and as you will discover he looks very different from his early days!

This is the famous watchmakers shop and home of Casper ten Boom and his family

hid so many Jews in his daughter’s Corrie’s bedroom wardrobe that had a special false door in the rear

Their heroic story is found in chapter 12!

Reuben (Reuven) was born in the Netherlands and sadly his mother and Reuven still very young suffered the turmoil’s of World War II until its conclusion. However, due to his mother’s wartime experiences she had become an unsettled lady and for the rest of her life, Judith, who was known to her many friends in her later life in New Zealand and Australia simply as “Jo,” never lived in one place for very long at any time, be it in a city, town or even a country for she tended to move from one place to another around every ten months. Reuven can well remember living in Rotterdam, Germany, Switzerland, France and back in Rotterdam with the final address being in Amsterdam, thus he never came to know what it was like living in the one place, or what home was! All this had much to do because Judith had a great fear of being discovered as being that hated “Jude” - Jewish, for she had hidden it as much as possible ever since the Holocaust. The only thing that she continued to uphold as a symbol of Judaism every year, was the eating of Matzah (Unleavened bread) at the time of Passover, but it was eaten warm with butter and sugar, thus more as a sweet as if it was done as a disguise and she never told Reuven why they were eating it!

However, it is at this point a story needs to be told, that when Reuven was still young, he lived in Amsterdam and there were Jewish folk are everywhere and one of his friends was Jewish. One day as Reuven was at their home he saw that they ate Matzoth is for obviously it was Passover. He said that he ate it at home and the father asked, “You eat this at your house?” Reuven replied, “Yes, every year around April we eat it for a whole week.” The father then asked, “So you are Jewish?” “I do not know!” When his mother arrived home later that day, he asked her if they were really Jewish, her reply was fierce and extremely painful as she went on a full physical attack and told him that “He would get much worse if he ever mentioned the word Jewish in the house ever again. And don’t you dare tell anyone!” Thus from that day Reuven knew that he was indeed Jewish, but kept it very much to himself. But the war would take its toll on his family, yet Reuven does not wish this to be fully told, for the story is just too painful!

Then having spent time travelling throughout Europe, by May 1958, His mother had decided six months earlier that they would move to New Zealand and she booked on a Dutch ship that would sail of on all days a Sabbath, Saturday May 17, 1958. Thus they travelled by train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam on the 16th.where they stayed at a hotel, and they departed from Rotterdam and the MS Sibajak and sailed for Wellington arriving on Sunday June 22. Upon arrival, they travelled north, for they would live for the next ten months in Palmerston North. Thereafter they moved to Auckland, then to Wellington, next to Wanganui and back to Wellington and in due course once again to Auckland.

Having been in New Zealand for five years, in 1963 both Reuven’s Mother and he were naturalised at the Cit of Lower Hutt, near Wellington and having a New Zealand Passport, she decided to head for Australia and they sailed on the Orient liner SS Oriana. 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 by sea. But after a very sad and troubled time with his mother whilst they were in Auckland, Reuven finally left home and in due course he settled in Australia in the mid 1960s for he had to set himself free from his mother’s powerful hold on him with her domineering ways and he was finally free!

In Australia he became very successful business man and some time later he met and married his one love Bashi Davina (Betty) under the Chuppa (canopy) in his beloved Synagogue on September 5, 1971 (15 Ellul 5731).

Being a devout Jew, Reuven 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 then only and the first male member of “WIZO” (Woman’s International Zionist Organisation). His tireless duties afforded him to receive countless awards from the Australian and International Hebrew organisations. Both “JNF” and “WIZO” honoured him for his services. He is Patron of “Hauzat Zeldadi” being an orphanage in Haifa Israel.

His Working life.

His civil working life was mostly spent in the travel/shipping industry, staring with “Royal Dutch Mails” (Royal Rotterdam Lloyd & the Netherland Line) as, what was called in those days an “office boy” in 1960, but soon he was a travel consultant on the passenger-shipping desk. He was asked to join the “Union Steamship Co” of NZ in 1961, and he became rather loved and successful there. So much so, there came a call from Australia for him to Manage the General Sales Agents (GSA) of the popular and large company “Chandris Lines” which he finally did in the early 1970’s. In due course when passenger liners lost their trade due to air travel, he set up a new cruise company and operated a Cruise Line, 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 Watson-Blake, John Julius and Tony Newton. He was also founder and CEO of “Coronet Travel Service”, “CTS Tours” and “FunPac Tours” and so much more.

A tragic history remembered and experienced.

In 1977, Reuven wrote a relatively small book entitled “The Faith of the Chosen,” which included details of the many evils that the “Christian Church” had imposed on the Jew people over the centuries and being an Orthodox Jew, Reuven had an intense 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 many of these ‘Christians’ opposed and hated “THE Jews.” History has it well recorded that the Roman Church and its Inquisitors, as well as the Crusaders murdered countless thousands of Jews on their unsubstantiated belief that “the Jews murdered Christ.” Reuven was also aware of that so-called Christian reformer, Martin Luther, who towards the end of his life penned an evil little 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,” used Luther’s book to justify his criminal actions, actions that saw six million Jews, and many more millions of other innocents slaughtered during HaShoah – the Holocaust. The point was, Reuven can remember the many times he was at the receiving hand of severe anti-Semitism, sometimes in the most public places, once even at a supermarket checkout, when a man noticing Reuven, obviously looking like a Jew in those days, said, “Well Hitler hasn’t done much of a job, has he, that xxxxx Jew is still alive!” And that was in Australia.

However, Reuven is now well aware that there are countless Christians who have no hand whatsoever in these evil crimes whatsoever, for had they, it would have negated their faith as found in the Brit Chadashah, Hebrew for the New Covenant. And the truth is that in “Dutch Tzedakah” you will discover his words, and a record of so many of faithful believers who rescued Dutch Jews and so many more others from the “Shoah,” the Holocaust in the Netherlands!

Family updates.

Reuven wife, Bashi (Betty), sadly passed away on 27 Tebeth 5164 (January 18, 2004).

His Mother, Judith, passed away on 12 Kislev 5766 (December 13, 2005).

Sadly, Reuven has no further living relatives as they have all been lost!

Countries Visited.

Reuven spoke and taught from the Scriptures throughout Australia and around the world. Although myself the author of this page, came from a Greek background and I have been in the ministry with brother Reuven since 1983 and travelled with him as an assistant teacher and his personal secretary. But together, we have Scriptural Hebrew and Greek, with is a blessing from our Father in Heaven!

Besides having ministered all over Australia many times from 1984 to 1988 continuously, Reuven and myself since have travelled the world on a good number of occasions and visited: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, various 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. Reuven was also the official historian of the ministry ship the MV Doulos, and has spent a great deal of time on her as well as having sailed on her giving as a Ministry guest, teaching and giving Scriptural studies whilst on board. His last voyage was in August 2008. The Doulos has been retired and sold to become a Hotel named “Doulos Phos” in Indonesia.

This Book.

Whilst in the Netherlands in 1987/98 and again in 1999, Reuven spent considerable time researching this book. He interviewed countless people, especially those who were directly involved, and/or their relatives.

A changed Reuven is seen during his final visit to the Netherlands

and the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam in April 2005

I am sure that this book will be of interest to many as it follows a path from Ur, to the Promised Land, then to Egypt and back to the land. Later, the Hebrews once again returned to Egypt but this time due to the drought and because Yoseyf - Joseph had called for his father and family to come. Once Israel returned to the Land of “Milk and Honey” they had some good and some terrible times due to their 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 as had been prophesied but this time it was Rome. Due to the unfaithful in Judea and Israel who rejected their Messiah as had been written, they were dispersed to the four corners of the earth, including to Europe, then after the horrors of the Holocaust they returned again to modern “State of Israel,” but their rocky road continues to this very day and it will until Yahushua (Yeshua) the messiah returns again!

This book was printed in The Netherlands in Dutch in a hard cover and it was a great success. Reuven gave 100% of the proceeds to charity. I trust that you will find something special in its pages! For interest; Reuven wrote it in English and it was translated into Dutch.

Kosta G. Specis.

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