In the Spotlight #4 – Gideon

Community means people and stories. The dynamics of diversity are an essential part. Chabad on Campus spotlights every week another member of the community with each their own story and vision.

Education is one of the foundations on which our society is built. I see education as a pile under a house. You can live in a home without anchoring to the ground on which it stands, but if there is a storm, there is a chance that your house will no longer be there. The anchorage to the ground ensures that the house withstands wind and weather.

I am a Social Studies teacher at a VMBO level, and I am also involved in advising politicians, governments and educational institutions about Citizenship. Before I worked in education, I worked in the media. After a sabbatical, I decided to see if education was for me and decided to teach for a year. Now, more than 20 years later, I still work in education.

Keep thinking critically, make your own decisions, and try to contribute if you hold an opinion.
spotlight - Gideon - Onderwijs - education

Much of what I notice about social developments stems from many people’s unease since the corona pandemic. Due to the internet and social media, every person wants to display and share their right without critically looking at whether that is correct. What I think is perhaps even worse than spreading disinformation or withholding information is that people no longer think about the consequences of their actions. I suspect this will become an even bigger problem in our society in the future.

Until I was 15, I lived in Twente and went to Jewish lessons in Enschede every week and regularly to shul. When I moved to Amstelveen/Amsterdam at the age of 15, I was continuously involved in all kinds of organizations. From BBYO, Sjoeche and EUJS in my student days to CIA, NIHS, NIK and Maccabi later in life.

In my opinion, the NIW is one of the leading institutions of the Jewish Netherlands. I am proud that I got asked four years ago to become chairman of the NIW Foundation, which publishes the magazine every week. The NIW is the oldest (since 1865) and only Jewish weekly magazine in the Netherlands. As I jokingly say, my job is to make sure the NIW is on the doormat of the reader every Friday.

I am not so religiously involved in the Jewish community. We celebrate the Jewish holidays and Friday evenings, but I am more connected to my Jewish identity through relations and history. I love it when wherever in the world I am, I meet other Jews. Because I have been active in all kinds of international Jewish organizations for a long time, I have a network of people in the world that I can call on for anything.

Chabad on Campus fills a gap in the Jewish community. Due to internationalization and rapidly changing society, Chabad on Campus is a centre for people who visit Amsterdam for a short or more extended period and feel comfortable in an international environment. This was not yet available in the Netherlands.

There is a demand for a different type of Jewish ‘community’. A certain sense of community, such as my parent’s generation, is much less present in my generation and the generations below me. Individualism and the ‘what’s in it for me’ play an essential role in implementing the current Judaism experience. Correspondingly, Chabad on Campus sets a range of activities for different groups so that everyone feels welcome.

Our daughter Ella has been going for 2 years to the Sunday morning Jewish lessons with Esty. We think it is important that she learns the Jewish traditions in a playful and fun way. The personal attention in small groups is also very appealing to me. Often, I take Ella to class on Sunday mornings and stay and chat with other dads and Yanki. Hence, Chabad on Campus teaches the children and includes the parents.

One of the most beautiful sayings I know and often use is: Whoever saves a person saves humanity.

Other blogs

Benny in the Spotlight – Amsterdam Municipality, Jewish Student House and Family #25

In this Spotlight, Benny recounts growing up in Amstelveen and near Breda, his job at the Amsterdam Municipality and growing up with a big family. 

Support and Change: Humanitarian Aid and Ukraine

In this blog, David writes about his experiences supporting Ukraine in Hungary and Poland.

Trip Tip #1: Neglected Beauty in the Negev Desert

In this week’s blog, Jonathan shares his first Trip Tip for the summer: visit the Negev Desert! He elaborates on the beauty of Mitzpe Ramon, Ein Gedi, riding camels and diving in Eilat.


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