“It’s hard being a Jew” goes the old Yiddish saying. That’s always been true and, with a few important exceptions, no period has been more difficult than our own. Especially because we had a temporary respite from anti-Semitism as usual after the end of WWII, I was among the many Jews who mistakenly thought things had changed for good, substantially if not completely. Edmund Fleg, the French-Jewish poet, famously wrote, “Everywhere suffering weeps, the Jew hopes.” Hope like that is indispensable but dangerous because it can obscure an ugly sub rosa reality.
It might be easy to make too much of the decision of the citizens of Amsterdam to give reparations to the Holocaust survivors who were required to pay taxes and special fees when they tried to return to their homes at the end of WWII. The current city administration is doing the right thing for the right reasons, and we ought to be happy and thankful for this.
That this recognition and payment come after a gap of more than 70 years is troubling. The background of this decision includes the rise of extreme right wing nationalist groups which encourage discrimination against Dutch minority citizens and even the murder of their supporters.
There are times when it’s had to find a blessing that is unmixed, and this is one of those times. —Rabbi Kerry Baker