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MY OVER 20 YEARS LONGING TO BE PART OF THE JEWISH FAITH AND PEOPLE

Amsterdam, 7 Adar II 5776. B. H.

"להוציא יקר מזולל" (ירמיהו טו יט)

MY OVER 20 YEARS LONGING TO BE PART OF THE JEWISH FAITH AND PEOPLE

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Peter Nugter, I am 65 years old, my children are grown, and I live on my own. I am of Dutch nationality. I used to live in Groningen, and today I live in Amsterdam, where I attend the Orthodox synagogue of “AMOS”.

I have worked in healthcare for a big part of my life, in hospitals and in people’s homes, and with people with reduced intelligence. I am currently retired.

My interest in Judaism goes back over 20 years. There is not one specific reason for this interest. It was probably initially triggered by the stories of my late mother, who used to work in Jewish homes prior to World War II. She told me about the manner in which the Shabbos was observed and about how the Pesach Seder was celebrated. I also learned quite a few Yiddish words from her, which I used as a child without knowing their origin, such as Mokum (the name for Amsterdam) and medine (province).

Later, in high school, I had a Jewish friend whom I visited often. His mother was the only of her family to survive the Shoa, and she used to tell a lot about that period.

For a few years, my interest in Judaism receded into the background, but approx. 20 years ago, more or less by coincidence, I visited the beautiful synagogue of Groningen (one of the most beautiful ones in the Netherlands after the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam), and I was touched by the solemnity of the service. I started attending more frequently and acquired a siddur, of which I obviously did not understand much - at least in the beginning.

I wanted to take classes with a rabbi for the purpose of giyur, and initially ended up with Rabbi Moshe Stiefel (שליט”א) of Almere. He was (and still is) a member of the Chabad movement, and I studied with him at his home, once every two weeks.
I had already understood that completing the conversion process might take a long time, and only after 2 or 3 years I noticed that the giyur procedure that I had requested via Rabbi Moshe Stiefel (שליט”א) was not moving forward. It gradually became clear to me that Rabbi Moshe Stiefel had no authority to rule on such matters, although his father-in-law, Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (שליט”א), was, as rabbi responsible for the provincial parts of the Netherlands.

From information that reached me from a variety of sources, I also came to the understanding that in the Netherlands, there were almost no cases of people completing the conversion process, or rather, given the opportunity to complete it.
In the course of the following years, I was invited several times for a conversation with a rabbi of the Jewish Orthodox Community in the Netherlands, but this never led to anything. Upon requesting such a meeting, I often had to wait for a year, or even longer. It was never made clear whether completing the conversion process was even possible. My direct questions in that regard were never answered.

At a certain point (which by now is some 7 years ago), I started attending the shul of Rabbi Raphael Evers (שליט”א) in Amsterdam, who is very well known in the Netherlands. This was a small shul in which I was welcome (to the extent that this was possible according to the Halacha). It was Rabbi Evers who, after a while, pointed me to the possibility of studying with Rabbi Ahron Daum (שליט”א), which is how I got in touch with him. I soon found out that students of his, provided that they were serious and persisting, were indeed able to complete the conversion process, for instance at the European Beth Din (Rav Chanoch Ehrentreu, שליט”א), the Beth Din of Paris (Rav Michel Gugenheim שליט”א), the Beth Din of Lyon (Rav Massoud Toubul, שליט”א), the Beth Din of Amsterdam (Rav Areyh Ralbag, שליט”א en Rav Shmuel Katz שליט”א) and various orthodox Beth Din (like e.g. Bnei Brak) in Israel.

I can add to this story that I was already fully circumcised 55 years ago, and that a hatafat dam should therefore be sufficient, provided that a doctor trusted by an Orthodox Beth Din will confirm that my circumcision was done properly.
I am making a choice for the Jewish belief and the Jewish people because I know that I was created by G-d, who is the source of my life and of all life. I must serve Him by observing His mishpatim, and thereby become part of Dat Am Yisrael, and a proud member of this people. I have no intent of remarrying, I live in Amsterdam on my own, and I regularly attend the “AMOS” synagogue in Amsterdam, led by Rabbi Menachem Sebbag (שליט”א). This synagogue is the most-attended synagogue in the Netherlands, it offers an extensive program of evening classes, as well as a daily Daf Yomi before Shaharit. There are many options in the vicinity of this synagogue for purchasing kosher products, and there is an extensive eruv.
During the period in which I am preparing myself for the giyur I am continuing to take weekly classes with Rabbi Ahron Daum (שליט”א). With his guidance, I have purchased tefillin from a trusted Jewish Sofer, and I have learned how to put them on.
Upon completing my giyur, I intend to work in the kehille of Amsterdam for my fellow Jews, and study the Daf Yomi with a haver.

Peter (Shaul Ahron) Nugter.

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