Fight Erupts over Dutch Chaplain

The Dutch Defense Ministry has not quite resolved a bitter dispute in Holland’s Jewish religious community over a replacement for the former chief Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Michael Nager, who quit the Dutch armed forces to go to Israel.

Nager and all of his predecessors belonged to the Orthodox Ashkenazic Congregation, the country’s largest Jewish denomination. But the much smaller Liberal (Reform) congregation insisted on a Liberal chaplain as well.

Undersecretary of Defense Bernard Baroin van Voorst tried to settle the dispute by dividing the position three ways.

In addition to the Ashkenazic candidate for chief chaplain, Jacob Boosman, he named an Orthodox and a Liberal rabbi to alternate as army chaplain, which is a part-time position.

They are Ashkenazic Rabbi Willem van Dijk and Liberal Rabbi Menno ten Brink.

Since the Orthodox chaplain also represents the Dutch Sephardic congregation, the Jewish military chaplaincy will be three-quarters Orthodox and one quarter Liberal.

But that does not satisfy the Orthodox elders, who will not countenance cooperation with a Liberal chaplain in the military. They are planning to challenge the decision.

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