Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs (R), first chief rabbi in Holland since 1986, with Dutch Queen Beatrix.
AMSTERDAM (EJP)---Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs, recently appointed chief rabbi of Holland, said that one of the major tasks in his new position will be to seek out Jews who were adopted by Christians during WWII.
Rabbi Jacobs, who is one of the veteran rabbis in Holland and a member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), the most prominent rabbinical body I n Europe, was nominated as chief rabbi of the 11 provinces of Holland at a recent general assembly of representatives from the Jewish communities in the country.
The last time a rabbi served in this position was in 1986 when Rabbi Eliezer Berlinger, who passed away that year, was not replaced.
As chief rabbi of Holland, Rabbi Jacobs is determined to locate thousands of individuals residing in Holland whose parents perished in the Holocaust and who were adopted and raised as non-Jews.
Some 100,000 on a total of 140,000 Dutch Jews were killed by the Nazis between 1940 and 1945.
"It's quite shocking for me as a rabbi, to realize that people were born, raised and even passed away, without knowing that they were Jews", he said.
During WWII many Dutch citizens came to the assistance of Jews persecuted by the Nazis.
One of the means of assistance was to adopt the children of Holocaust victims.
Since the war, this has lead to a series of court cases between adoptive families and the relatives of the children who were adopted. The latter returned to the country after the war to reclaim and return the children to their surviving relatives. In most cases the judges ruled in favor of the adopting families.
Rabbi Jacobs reported that he had information about his own relatives who had remained under the auspices of their adoptive families until quite an advanced age.
He added: "There are many archives and documents that may lead to the whereabouts of those children who are now quite elderly people."
"As a rabbi with a significant degree of authority, I may access this sensitive data smoothly and I shall demand that this material is made available to me".
Another issue Rabbi Jacobs wants to raise is the restoration and maintenance of Jewish cemeteries dispersed throughout Holland.
These cemeteries were first created as early as in the 17th century when Jews settled in Holland, mostly escaping oppression and inquisition from the Iberian Peninsula.
The rabbi believes that the Dutch government ought to participate in the funding of the preservation and maintenance of these cemeteries because of their special historical value.