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A search from the Jewish desert in southern Netherlands

A search from the Jewish desert in southern Netherlands

Life is about making choices, so it is my choice to recommend Rabbi Daum not in one sentence only, such as: " Rabbi Daum is the best teacher and mentor if you are interested in Jewish studies!", but also to expound why.
As a young boy I was, like most people in the south of the Netherlands, raised in a primarily Christian environment with all the beliefs and practises that comes with it. For a long time a lot of things were unclear to me, the practises and beliefs were mostly not understandable or were not explained by adults. This started to disturb me later in life. There was a feast of a bunny which is hiding chocolate eggs, Christmas was an “eat-as-much-as-you-can" party, without anyone knowing its true meaning. Pentecost, isn't that the celebration with the eggs? Son of G-d, mother of G-d, are there three? Whatever, I threw it all beside me. That everything existed out of a natural phenomenon was not something that I could readily accept. None of the above did fit my way of thinking.
Some years ago I came in contact with people who simply lived their lives; life went by as it is, devoid of problems and complications. There is a special kind of energy that prevented bad influences to enter their lives. Life was good, and there was a purpose. The ancient culture and customs, the close-knit community, the strength to again and again survive the many attempts to eradicate in a span of more than 2000 years. Life, which is according to a clear age-old concept, given by the Creator himself, made me decide to want to join this religion and the Jewish people.
After investigation, how and where to start, it soon became clear that joining the Jewish people was surrounded by a virtual high wall. There is so much information that it seemed almost an impossible task to pick out the right one. And usually I do things well, or I don't do them at all. So far I ran against closed doors; no one was willing to help me. I felt like being alone in the world.

In my area I found nothing but disapproval and for no reason. In my quest, I visited several websites, including international sites. One was the site of Rabbi Daum. The information was clear to me, and fully substantiated. In another site I read about a meeting in Antwerp for people interested in Judaism. Just sign up via email with ... Rabbi Daum.
It is known that a rabbi will send you away with the words: "You need not be Jewish, with all obligations and disqualifications. Go and just be a good person and do not do things that you do not want others do to you. I wish you all the best "... With this thought I went to the meeting with Rabbi Daum. With a noncommittal, I attended the meeting organized by Rabbi Daum. Rarely do I have meetings or anniversaries, not even with my own family, where the atmosphere was as familiar as here. It was a gathering of strangers, just connected by the interest in Judaism! They were like one big family. People who I never saw before accepted me immediately as if they knew me for years. This was a special experience!
Afterwards Rabbi Daum took time to explain to me his teaching method: via the computer with Skype, the option to personally visit him and what to expect, etc. My decision to take him as a teacher and mentor became final. Within a short time the first session was done.
Unfortunately, due to an event a few years ago, my short term memory is not what it used to be. It is thereby extremely difficult for me to learn and remember new information. You can compare this with: going upstairs in your home and on the second step you have completely forgotten why you went upstairs... and if you go back, you don’t remember what you were previously doing. It becomes frustrating and very difficult when for example: you have to learn another language in a different script: Hebrew, the language of the Torah and the Jewish people. Years before, I only needed a very short time to memorize, to learn, to understand and now I regularly lose my patience and get frustrated while trying to learn new things! I even get angry at myself and all the while thinking: "Maybe, it's not for me. Maybe, I'm just a bother, wasting a rabbi's precious time. " Then, Rabbi Daum knows how to motivate me again and he points to me the already achieved results, that’s all not as bad as I may think, being able to read the text in the Siddur, the Jewish prayer book is a feat in itself.
Seldom I have seen such inexhaustible patience like his! Always with full attention and commitment he corrects my mistakes, gives instructions how to improve, without ever making a comment or let me feel dumb or being bored because it took me more time to learn. Even on my compliments of his unique quality his modest answer, with his known humorous laugh: "Then I would not be a good teacher ...". My questions are answered and illustrated with his experiences and his, known to many people, humor.
Similarly, the information provided on a question or topic is extensive. Where many people would only answer a "yes" or "no", Rabbi Daum explains why, gives information about the origin. Therefor the answers are clear and will be largely retained in memory. When this is not the case, Rabbi Daum possesses the unique ability to repeat everything all over again. I especially appreciate his hospitality. From the very first meeting I was welcomed as a good friend and immediately gained his trust. Never before have I been so close to someone's private life, this time someone important and in such a short time! This also made a deep impression on me.
It feels like he is investing in me by sharing all his knowledge and experience. Furthermore I always receive good advice on Judaica and books! That gives me a lot of strength to pursue this quite difficult path. A man makes choices that defines the rest of his life. What I definitely know is that contacting Rabbi Daum was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Due to my technical knowledge I regularly advice people and companies and afterwards they thank me for that. I always recommend others to do it right the first time, to be very close to perfectionism, and not to use inferior tools, parts, equipment and methods. Also for myself: my desire was to follow a good study. And I got the best! Rav Daum is to me equivalent to what a Rolls Royce is in car brands and a Rolex in watches: Superior, top of the line! It is completely useless to search for a similar quality Jewish study because you will not find it anywhere. Even if I am not able to finish my studies with a complete giur, I have already reached my goal anyway: receiving some of the special 'energy' in my life from HaShem.

This particular 'energy' makes me almost immune to all mundane "problems" which is envied by some other people. Besides that, thanks to Rabbi Daum, a lot of things, such as the special (remembrance) days became more clear to me and can now be understood better. Due to his efforts Rabbi Daum and his family have made all the above mentioned possible for me and for that I am very grateful.
I would like to thank everyone for reading the above. Despite the amount of text I still have the feeling that this is only too little a tribute to this unique man, with his unrivalled knowledge and exceptional characteristics.

Eindhoven, Nederland 26/11/2015
14 Kislev 5776

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