By A. Gold
Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi of the Dutch Interprovinciaal Upper Rabbinate and member of the Rabbinical Council of the RCE, said that Dutch society is becoming too progressive. He asserted that the permissive attitude permeating through Holland and beyond is dangerous
Rabbi Jacobs was speaking in reaction to the protests and demonstrations that are surrounding the Fifth World Congress of Families in Amsterdam where he is a keynote speaker.
During the conference he discussed the issue of family as the cornerstone of society. The Congress is an international interreligious and interracial conference on family issues.
Rabbi Jacobs was one of a series of speakers at the event which was also addressed by the Dutch Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Youth and Family, André Rouvoet.
Rouvoet’s participation in the conference has become one of the main focal points of the protests.
Many of the speakers addressed the criticism from outside groups. “The family unit is under constant attack,” said Rabbi Jacobs.
The conference discussed many issues, including legislation regarding abortion. Rabbi Jacobs was adamant that issues such as abortion should not be regulated and legalized according to reason.
“Mankind and society, is able, and must, make laws concerning speed limits, fraud, child abuse and many other issues. But to make laws based on reason concerning ethical questions is far from easy, if not completely impossible. Our ethical views and feelings are formed by the media and by our own neighbours,” Rabbi Jacobs stated.
“And just like the question whether abortion has to be looked upon as murder or as a blessing all depends on the opinion of my surroundings.”
Rabbi Jacobs gave examples of how people of different backgrounds arrive at very different conclusions concerning ethical issues, particularly those involving family matters. He also spoke about his experiences as an employee of the Sinai Center, the only Jewish psychiatric institution in Western Europe.
Many of those who attended the event came from different backgrounds, but they all had in common the idea that the traditional view of a family is vital for the future.
“I believe that family is the cornerstone of society,” said Rabbi Jacobs. He said this view was formed by the Bible, but claimed that even those who did not accept the Bible accepted the similar concept of family.
Scores of participants from more than 50 countries participated in the event. Delegates came from 11 African states, and from as far away as Venezuela, South Africa, Moldova, Pakistan and Australia. Many of the speakers are politicians, experts, religious and lay leaders. Organisers say the response to the Congress was “overwhelming”.
Rabbi Jacobs referred to the selfish mentality that is prevalent in parts of modern society which is leading it to danger. He also compared those who love their own ego to idolatry. “Jewish philosophy tells us that at the moment that I believe in G-d, the Almighty, and I believe at the same time in Myself, it is considered serving an idol,” Rabbi Jacobs continued.
Rabbi Jacobs became the chief rabbi of the 11 provinces of Holland in December last year at the general assembly of representatives from the Jewish communities in the country. He is an authority on Jewish marriage and divorce. Rabbi Jacobs is also a prominent member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.
The Rabbinical Centre of Europe is an organization dedicated to meeting the religious and spiritual needs of communities in Europe.