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

 

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

About the Author

Introduction by Samuel Elisha ben Avraham

Introduction:

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 of Milk 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 Netherlands 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!

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

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

Their heroic story can be found in chapter 12.

Below 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.

A changed Reuben is seen during his visit to the Netherlands

and the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam in April 2005

 

As stated, Reuben was born in the Netherlands and sadly his Mother Judith and Reuben 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, Switzerland, France, and then she returned to Amsterdam. Sadly Reuben 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!

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 house?” Reuben 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 one!

Then having spent time travelling throughout Europe, by May 1958, his Mother decided that they would move to New Zealand 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 Palmerston North where Reuben 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 to Wellington, 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, Australia sailing on the Orient liner S.S. 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 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 5731).

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 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 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 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.

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 Church 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 Luther, 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.

However, Reuben 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!

Family updates.

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).

Sadly, Reuben has no relatives from the Dutch side in the world, as sadly are all long gone!

Countries Visited.

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.

This Book.

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 relatives.

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. Once Israel 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 interest; Reuben wrote originally in English and it was then translated into Dutch.

Samuel Elisha ben Avraham.

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