The Day of Judaism (January 17) is a day dedicated to Christian-Jewish reflection. The Roman Catholic Church in Italy started this day in 1990. I am not entirely sure of the history, but I believe it is intended to be a way for Christians to better understand the Jewish roots of their faith. In 1997 the concept of this day became more prevalent throughout the churches of Europe. The Day of Judaism hasn’t been without controversy as there was a boycott of the day in 2009 led by Italian rabbis.
Controversy or not, I will be attending a ceremony on the Day of Judaism put on by the Church of Peter and Paul in Tilburg, Netherlands. On January 17, 2014 the Tilburg community will honor the death of my great uncle and his wife. They will be setting two Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones see www.struikelstenen.nl) outside the house where Bobby and Tineke once lived. I have written before in my blog about Bobby and his wife, Tineke. They tried to escape Nazi occupied Holland in December 1941. However, they were captured and killed in concentration camps.
I am honored to be able to attend this event.
Please see a translation of the press release that has gone out.
PRESS RELEASE – 2014
On January 17, 2014 (the Day of Judaism) two small memorials (Stolpersteine) will be placed in the sidewalk of a residential house in the Burg. von Meursstraat 5. Here lived the Jewish couple Bobby (Robert Franz) Spier and Tineke (Justine Leonie) Spier-Bendien that were killed during World War II. There will be a relative of Bobby from America and a cousin of Tineke present. Before and after the ceremony, there are activities planned in and around the Church of Peter and Paul.
Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones) are small square stones of 10x10x10 cm at the top with a brass plate with an inscription. The stones are placed in front of the house which ,in this case, Jewish residents of Tilburg in World War II were deported and subsequently murdered in the concentration camps. The inscription on the stone tells not only the name, date of birth and the date on which that person was killed, but also the date of arrest, jail and deportation.
These victims do not have a grave, and this “Stumbling Stone” brings the names of our fellow citizens back to their last home. The community of Saints Peter and Paul Church and The Christopher School have each adopted one of the Stolperstein. In the future, these communities will pay special attention to the stones and remember the people they represent, annually around October 27 (the day Tilburg was liberated).