Rabbi Chil Slostovsky admonished his students to abhor Jesus. Yet when he started to read the New Testament, he felt like a thirsty man who drinks greedily when he has found a spring of fresh, cool water.
Terrible stories in the Talmud
As a descendant of a number of orthodox rabbis, I received a strict rabbinical education. I thank God that I was able to obtain the highest diplomas of two rabbinical seminaries at the age of seventeen. These distinctions, however, did not satisfy me and I continued earnestly to study the Talmud and other rabbinical works. I became a rabbi and professor at a rabbinical seminary. In my lectures I admonished the students to abhor Christianity and Jesus Himself. I believed all the terrible stories about Jesus as contained in the Talmud.
A ‘great danger’
Through God’s wise foresight however, I became acquainted at that time with a well-educated missionary. What he told me was very interesting so much so that I paid him frequent visits. Very soon my relatives got to know about this and became very perturbed. They decided to write to the chief rabbi of Palestine. He was told of “the great danger, which threatened my soul.” They implored him to have pity on my soul and to save me from ‘the great danger’ by extending to me a call to Palestine. The chief rabbi sent me a letter in which he mentioned quite casually that he could get me a permit to enter Palestine should I wish to come there. I was delighted at the prospect of going to the land of my forefathers and accepted his suggestion joyfully. Shortly after my arrival the chief rabbi appointed me as secretary to the chief rabbinate of Jerusalem. Moreover he continually showed me his special favour. His interest in me became so obvious that one day I frankly asked him about this. Then he told me of the correspondence with my relatives and tried to convince me of the ‘falseness’ of the missionary’s teachings. I began to think that he might be right.
The Russian born Joseph Zalman fled to the west and waited in Amsterdam for a ship to America. He ended up in a meeting where the Name of Jesus was mentioned. He was outraged, but also fascinated. In time he discovered, in a miraculous way, that He also is his personal Saviour.
Joseph Zalman was born in 1860 in Turkey into a strict Chassidic family. Shortly after his birth his mother died, so he was raised by his grandmother. When he was twelve, his father remarried and they moved to Odessa in Russia. While they were there, ‘Christian’ Cossacks killed his younger brother in a pogrom and from then on he hated the Christians intensely. After some time they overcame this strike and they even prospered a little. His Father made name as a builder and architect and Joseph followed in his footsteps and co-operated with him as a building architect.
Joseph married in 1883, but the young couple had a hard time. There were building orders, but the anti-Semitism was rising more and more. In addition, the government charged extra high taxes on Jews so many Jewish traders were forced to leave. Joseph planned to immigrate with his wife to America, so with little money in their pocket they took leave of their parents and family.
Belgian born Louis Kinsbergen was one of the few members of his family that survived the Second World War. As a child he went into hiding in different places. Finally he ended up in a loving God-fearing family, where he was apprehended by the Gospel.
In remembrance and as a warning
It is 16 September 1992. I write this in remembrance of my foster parents Heit and Mem Wijbenga, so that this story will not be forgotten and so what they have done will not be placed in an unfavourable light.
I also write this as a warning against the rise of fascism, as takes place in Somalia, Yugoslavia and also again in Germany. Just as in 1940, the masses in this world stand around watching in silence. I hope many young people may read this and be alert for the increasing fascism.
A Yiddish mama
My grandfather was a well-known diamond merchant in Antwerp. Several family members earned their living at his business. In the depression of the 1930s he went bankrupt and the whole family lost their jobs, including my father. Around 1933 he left, with his wife and three children for Amsterdam, where he hoped to find work in the diamond industry. Unfortunately the crisis had struck there too, so that soon he was on welfare.
When the war broke out in 1940 my parents had divorced and my mother had to take care of the family alone. With a large family, now four children and in financial straits, my mother had a difficult life. Soon the persecution of the Jews started and my oldest brother, who was eighteen years old by then, was deported with the first Jews to Germany. We never heard from him again.
My mother was a good and loving woman, who would do anything for her children. As we Jews say, “a real Yiddish mama.” Due to the misery of the growing fascism, she became overstrained and had to be hospitalised. Finally she became extremely exhausted and was transferred to Apeldoorn. From there she was deported with other patients as animals to the concentration camps, where she was killed.