Section: Avodah Category: Ahavas Yisroel
|Antwerp, Belgium: Streets Paved With Diamonds|
|As a child
growing up in America we always laughed at the idea that in Europe they
used to think the streets of America were paved with gold. What a
naive and silly thought. Yet when I grew older and became acquainted
with people from Antwerp, Belgium, it didn't stop me from forming the
belief that the streets of Antwerp were paved with diamonds. Everyone
I met came from extremely comfortable families who were all in the
The reality always was quite different, but especially today as large foreign companies have taken over the diamond trade. In Antwerp like everywhere else there are wealthy Jews and Jews who struggle to make ends meet. But there is something very unique about Antwerp that although I can't say I have seen it first hand, but it definitely is consistent with the little I have seen in my visit there. I want to share with you the following letter that was sent by a reader.
He writes, "I liked your article. As someone who lived in a number of places around the world, I'll tell you something I find unique to Antwerp. In a small geographical area, Antwerp is home to about 20.000 Jews. About half are not Shomer Shabbos, a quarter are Chassidim, from Satmar to Lubavitch and from Vizhnitz to Belz. The rest are a mix of Litvaks, Mizrachi, and regular heimish - yes it still exists here. Yet it is very common to see Vizhnitz, Belz, and Bobov Chassidim sitting together in Chabad house for a farbrengen, and a Satmar speaking in Yiddish to a non frum man (many here speak Yiddish) as friends, and everyone will come together to a hall to cry for 8 dead children from Merkaz Harav in Israel, or 6 dead in Mumbai. Antwerp's 'achdus' is very unique."
So as it turns out, I was right in my assessment after all. The streets of Antwerp are paved with diamonds. Real diamonds, that is, Yidden whose achdus makes them shine like a perfectly cut stone in a beautiful setting. Diamonds that Hashem is proud to wear in his crown.