The Dutch Christians in the Netherlands and their effects on Jewish Identity

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1 The Dutch Christians in the Netherlands and their effects on Jewish Identity by Dr. Benjamin H. Cassutto Yad Vashem Holocaust Educators Conference August 8-12, 2004

2 Introduction Lightbeacon Ministries Mission Statement To be a bridge between the mainline denominational Church and Judaism through: Articles and presentations concerning Jewish culture, holidays, and history Books- Buried Treasure, The Last Jew of Rotterdam - more in the works Sharing with the Church how to relate to and understand the importance of their Jewish Roots and Judeo-Christian culture Being an information resource to Jewish people on alternate forms of Judaism such as Biblical and Messianic Judaism

3 Family History Introduction (continued) Parents were Holocaust Survivors in Holland Ernest and Elisabeth survived the Holocaust Both families - Sephardic Jewish Many members (Grandparents, Uncles, Cousins) suffered or died in Shoa Many family members still remain in the Netherlands

4 History of Dutch Jewry Spain expelled Jewish Population Queen Isabella, King Ferdinand The Alhambra Decree Quuen (and many other Christians) thought the Jews killed Christ They fled to Portugal- forcibly baptized Over next 100 years they fled to Holland Wanted to live as Jews Holland at war with Spain Called themselves Portuguese Jews Also came from other countries such as Italy

5 History of Dutch Jewry 17th Century- Ashkenazi Jews come to Holland Actually larger than Sephardic community Three synagogues- Beth Jacob, Neve Shalom, Beth Israel Combine in 1639 to form Talmud Torah Portuguese Jewish Community in Amsterdam which still exists today It is the synagogue which both families worshiped

6 Elly and Ernest after the Holocaust

7 The Stories of Ernest and Elly Cassutto Family - Very liberal non-practicing Jewish family Isaac Cassutto- called to Indonesia Max and Ernest- Born in Indonesia NO synagogue or Rabbi in Indonesia Ernest not circumcised Family back in Holland Was practicing Ernest s grandfather- president of Jewish Community in The Hague Family moves back to Holland

8 The Stories of Ernest and Elly Rodrigues Family Very religious practicing Jews worshipped in Portuguese synagogue Lived in Jewish section of Amsterdam Elly and older brother Henri went to same schools as Anne Frank Her Grandfather was Rabbi or Moil Abraham Rodrigues was a textile merchant

9 Elly (Elisabeth) and Henri after the Holocaust

10 Jewish Life in Holland Jews were merchants They had full religious freedom As in other European countries they were fully integrated into society Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews intermarried Cassutto (Sephardic) married Winkel (Ashkenazi) Rodigues married Coopman Amsterdam- largest community Other communities in The Hague, other cities

11 The street where the Rodrigues family lived from in the Jewish section of Amsterdam.

12 The street where Anne Frank actually lived. This is not the place where she was hidden. It is just six blocks away from the Rodrigues residence in southern Amsterdam.

13 The Holocaust in Holland May 10th, 1940 Hitler invades Holland Holland was neutral in World War I Nazi government promises little changes Dutch soldiers immediately released November 1941 All Jews must register- how many Jewish grandparents Nuremberg and other laws passed in Holland Jews had curfew, no Jews in public places, separate schools, separate shops, no radios

14 June 1942 The Holocaust in Holland Jews (Elly, Ernest) must wear Jewish Star Nazis call men such as Ernest to labor Service in Germany Jewish Raad or board formed to work with Nazis After Jewish Star- Deportations begin in Amsterdam Many families go into hiding Stories of Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place

15 The Hiding of Jews in Holland Many Dutch citizens hid Jews during the Holocaust Reasons- Ethical (moral) - the humane treatment of others National - to work against the Nazi regime Cultural - Jews had lived among other Hollanders for centuries Religious - The Jewish people are part of G-d s plan, cannot be destroyed

16 Ernest and His first fiancee- Hetty Ernest Cassutto and his fiancee Hetty were hidden by Dutch Christians,starting in Hetty died in Auschwitz, but Ernest was hidden in 44 hiding places by the Dutch underground and survived the holocaust.

17 Bert Bochove hid Elly Rodrigues and her family for eleven months not so much for religious reasons, but because it was the right thing to do. According to Bert- I didn t grow up with the idea you needed Christ to make it.

18 Corrie Ten Boom and her family on the other hand, had a strong Christian faith and understanding of the importance of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel in G-d s plan of salvation.

19 Elly and Henri s First Hiding Place The Rodrigues family was hidden in this pharmacy for eleven months until the Nazis found them out. They escaped from here just in time.

20 Miep Gies, now 91 years old is still speaking about how she hid the Frank family. According to her, My decision to help Otto was because I saw no alternative.

21 According to Anne Frank, her hiding place was in the Prinsegracht was relatively spacious. According to Elly, her hiding place was not.

22 After the pharmacy, Elly and Henri were taken in by the Bogaarts sisters, Henri, by Annie Bogaarts Ketel, and Elly, by Grietje Bogaarts, pictured here.

23 The Hiding of Jews in Holland Elly and Henri s Jewish dilemma They must blend in with the non-jewish populationno longer in hiding They retain new names (Elly van Toll), new identities They must learn about Christianity to survive. Go to a Christian school They must learn Christian worship, go to church Their father tells them to do so to survive They will forget about this and retain their Judaism after the war

24 The Hiding of Jews in Holland Ernest Cassutto s Jewish dilemma Ernest knew practically nothing about Judaism or Christianity He couldn t understand why he was being persecuted as Jew He couldn t understand why these Christians were risking their lives for him He had to rely on them for everything in order to survive

25 The Hiding of Jews in Holland Why did these Christians hide Jewish people? They believed the Jews are G-d s chosen people- Elly and Ernest are brothers and sisters of the Messiah, in the flesh They believed it would bring them blessing - Genesis 12:3 They believed it was commanded - Matthew 25:31-46 They believed that the Jews and Israel are critical to G-d s plan for the World The Jewish nation should not be destroyed

26 The Hiding of Jews in Holland What did Elly and Ernest learn from this situation? The people who helped them did so out of love, not pressure to change their beliefs The reasons for Jewish persecution over the ages are not held by true Christians The faith and beliefs of their rescuers allowed them to risk their lives The Jewish faith has a greater purpose than just a rich tradition and history. The Jews and Israel are a part of G-d s plan for this World

27 The Hiding of Jews in Holland Epilogue Elly s parents die in Auschwitz Elly is adopted by Grietje, and becomes a Christian According to Elly, she could not have survived without Grietje, who adopts her. Henri does not become a Christian, actually he becomes an atheist for many years, then becomes a practicing Jew Ernest Cassutto becomes a Christian He leads his family to Christianity Ernest attributes his survival to the love and deeds of the Dutch Christians Ernest and Elly meet in 1948 and are married on 22 April 1949

28 Elly and Tante Grie after the Holocaust

29 Tante Grie Enshrined at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

30 Discussion How do we as Jews come to terms with Elly, Ernest, and Henri s Jewish identity crisis? Were the Nazis who professed so during the Holocaust, truly Christians? Did the Christians who hid Ernest and Elly pressure them to change their belief systems? What is the fate of someone whose religious beliefs are challenged by dire circumstances? Change and increase in faith in G-d Decrease in faith, and belief in G-d

31 Questions? Thank you for your attention!

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