All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Tuesday, 31 May 2005

At Last

There are the rare moments in one's life when one hears a piece of news that you know is going to be historic. The unmasking of Deep Throat is indeed such an occasion to savour.

I can't count the times I've seen All The President's Men and like everyone else (except for Ben Bradlee, Bernstein and Woodward) wondered who this mysterious individual really was and now, amazingly, the mystery has been solved. It's a man called W. Mark Felt.

I'm glad to report that Mr Felt, though blessed with a Jewish sounding surname is not an MOT (Member of the Tribe). He is of Irish extraction.

As pivotal as his role was, we can safely sit back in our seats and thank the good Lord that we didn't help to bring down this particular President (even a crook like Nixon). However, we can kvell in the fact that we have our own little fully blown (and I use the term advisedly) Deep Throater called Monica who literally, ahem, brought a later President to his knees.

So there you have it. The mystery is no more.

Now, let's find out who really killed JFK (and Please G-d, let's hope that he/she too is not one of ours. Such publicity, we don't need).

Monday, 30 May 2005

Magic Moments

At the end of a sunny day, Dana decided to start a water fight. She sprinkled a bit of tap water in my direction. Then her eyes lit up and she ran out of the room.

I of course thought nothing of it, until she returned with a filled water pistol!

That was it - The race was on to remember where I'd hidden the other three unopened packets. With pistols at the ready, the kids got in on the act and what could have been a ginormous water fight was almost immediately curtailed as Shira did not appreciate being spritzed in the face.

The sheer impulsiveness of the moment was Dana all over and it's one of the things that I love so much about her.

The pistols have been seized and are ready, waiting for another day when I predict we are all seriously going to have the most amazing and floodworthy water-fight.

I can't wait (and neither can the kids).

My Baby's First Signature!



My baby is definitely growing up. I can't believe that she's aleady writing her name. It seem like yesterday when she floated to the end of the birthing pool, screaming her guts out. Granted that she still does the same thing when she's in the bath, it is hard to reconcile this with the fact that she's developing before our very eyes.

Soon, I will be sitting, listening to her stumble across her first reading words and wondering where the hell the last four-and-three-quarter years have flown to. I'm so very proud of my little Michal.

Doesn't she write beautifully?! Today, her first signature; tomorrow, her entrance exam to Cambridge...

Et Oui

I am still pinching myself at the very notion that for once - just once - the French have done something right. By rejecting a referendum to adopt the European Constitution, which would have spelled untold doom for anyone in this G-dforsaken continent, they have actually done us all a favour.

I'll come clean here in stating that I am an anabashed Eurosceptic. The sad thing is that I didn't use to be. I have, however seen no real merit in the concept of a United States of Europe. Saying that, I do know that people will argue that, having a united Europe will keep us all together and stop a war.

So let's think about that one then.

The presence of the EU really assisted in averting the atrocities that occured in Bosnia didn't it? The absence of so called borders in Europe have done everything to stop the free movement of terrorists from one country to another haven't they?

Need I go on?

Additionally, the EU has been unified in one thing - it's unending hostility towards Israel. As soon as it gets "nice" again, it launches a broadside in the UN or sides with the Palestinians (and I do know that many European countries came out against the Court's taking on the Barrier case, but that was more to do with a love of their precious Court). If we had to rely on Europe's help, the Jews would have been dumped into the Mediterranean decades ago and yes, I do want to mention the War.


Now, let's talk about the Euro and it's effect on me personally. I know that since I've started buying items on the internet from around the world (in Dollars), I have greatly benefitted from the strong Pound, in terms of getting excellent deals. How would the Euro help me?

I rest my point.

I'm not anti-Europe per se. I just don't see any benefit from it's existence. It just seems like a nice excuse to give some overstuffed, self-important beaurocrats an excuse for not doing a real job. I don't want some greasy Belgian in Brussels (oh that does sound good) to tell me how to rule my life, working hours directive or not.

Les félicitations au français. Ce matin vous avez mon respect.

Sunday, 29 May 2005

This Week's Song: To My Friends

I wrote "To My Friends (dedicated to Tzahal)" in 1989.

The premise behind it, lay in my thinking about a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (which to my eternal shame, I have never been) who finds himself entrenched in a solitary outpost, in the middle of the night, alone, frightened and depressed - thinking about his fellow soldiers, whom he wishes were there with him at that very moment. It is a song of about comradeship at the most difficult of times and how friendship can sometimes be the only source of hope when nothing else appears to exist any more.

This was written at the height of the Lebanon War when our young boys were being killed in their hundreds. Putting aside the politics of whether the Army should have been there in the first place, this was a song about young men who really should have been at University, enjoying life instead of wondering whether they would be live to see the next morning.

I entered the song into competition and although it didn't win, I gained a much greater sense of achievement as, seated in the audience were some IDF soldiers whom I am told were very moved by the piece. This song was written for them and to this day, it remains one my favourite compositions and certainly, the one I am most proud of.

To my friends,
I dedicate this song to you.
To my pals,
Who helped me get along.
For those times,
you helped me wipe away those tears,
To my friends,
This song is just for you.

For those days,
You held back all your words,
For those nights
Of counsels in the dark.

You know I sat,
So many nights alone,
Without a light,
To help me see you.
You heard the screams,
That broke the chilly air,
But yet you held your head up,
Sky high.

To those friends,
The ones who didn't say goodbye,
For those friends,
I love you for yourselves.
For those times,
You helped me wipe away the tears
To my friends,
This song is just for you...

Friday, 27 May 2005

The Final Day

I made the classic mistake of telling the kids in my first lesson that this was my last day - at the start of the lesson. Rather, I confirmed the "rumour" that was going around the school. I won't be doing that again.

People have been very sweet. I even got a chocolate cake and a card.

So, I'm happy to report that I've taught my very last lesson as a PGCE student and that does feel good. Now, the expectations will be higher, so I suppose I should really savour this feeling.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

The End Is Near.

I have now passed another milestone in my teacher training. This morning, I had the last of my twelve observations over the year and it went relatively well.

The Deputy Head sat at the back of the room and the students were so well behaved (we're talking about my year 10 class), that it literally freaked me out. I've never seen them so quiet! I got them onto the task and they worked really well. The D.H. and I had a chat and he gave me quite a positive feedback.

So there you go.

My university lecturer came in yesterday afternoon for an observation and also came out happy. Both observations, I'm delighted to report, have left my studying record virtually sparkling. In fact, my lecturer told me that I was a really strong student (don't get worried here, we're not talking physically - he's not the type) which only helped to send my already criminally overbursting ego and self-confidence to dangerous, stratospheric heights.

Today is my penultimate at the school. Although I finish official teaching tomorrow morning, I still have to come back for a week, at the end of June, to make up the days I missed last September over Rosh Hashanah etc.

I am in a reflective mood. This has been an extremely useful learning experience, despite the challenges inherent to my position as a student teacher. I'm not sorry to leave (except that I'll miss the teachers and even some kids) and it does feel like the right time to go back to being a student - albeit for just over two weeks.

Can you believe that I'm virtually at the end of my course? Where has all the time gone? I'm not through yet and there's still of lot studying to do, but for the very first time, I can see the finish line, which is getting closer each and every day. The end is definitely near and soon, I will be an NQT - Newly Qualified Teacher.

My, that does sound good.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

This is Jewlicious

I've just discovered a seriously cool blog called
Jewlicious. Have a look, I think you'll be impressed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

All About My Sister Talia

Talia can jump, thump,
play, nay,
Sing, ding,
Be annoying and ignoring.

She can dress, be impressed,
She can press, sit, admit,
Cry, lie,
Shout,doubt,
Can go like a nut.

She's brave,
As tough as a wave,
Strong, long,
Wet like a net.

But I don't care,
How she's born, I love her.


by Hadassah (aged seven and-a-half)

Monday, 23 May 2005

Funny

To-Do List - 16 Ways To Maintain A Healthy Level of Insanity:

1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.

2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice.

3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Frieswith That.

4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It "In".

5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once Everyone Has GottenOver Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch To Espresso.

6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write "For Sexual Favors"

7. Finish all Your Sentences With "In Accordance With The Prophecy."

8. dont use any punctuation

9. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.

10. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is "To Go."

11. Sing Along At The Opera.

12. Go To A Poetry Recital And Ask Why The Poems Don't Rhyme

13. Put Mosquito Netting Around Your Work Area And Play Tropical Sounds All Day.

14. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won!, I Won!"

15. When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking Lot,Yelling "Run For Your Lives, They're Loose!!"

16. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. "Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go."

Screen Life

There was a time, in the not so distant past that I had, what is commonly known as a social life. This memorable epoch in my life occurred before I met and married the lovely Dana and we decided to re-populate the Jewish gene pool with our offspring.

Please don't misunderstand me. I love my life and wouldn't want it to be different in any way. This is how things have panned out. I just miss having that "social life" I so used to enjoy.

We'd go out on a Saturday night, a whole bunch of us and enjoy the shmooze, donuts, milkshakes, movies....and conversation. The latter element was the bit I liked the most. We'd talk total nonsense, but it made sense to us at that time in our lives. Now, my friends and I have moved on, got married, been blessed with children and become the archetypal Jewish parents, which is not a bad thing.

But, oh...that social life!

I'll be honest here. I don't have much of one these days. Who has the time? During the week, Dana is out tutoring her kids and I'm at home, doing this'n'that. Our friends come home from work, tired and stressed, so weeknights are out.

Shabbat is spent with the family, trying to keep the kids occupied. Saturday night, with Shabbat going late means that there's not much going on there and Sunday is another family day. By Sunday night, the most exciting thing I can think of, is occasionally going out to the cinema, sometimes with a friend. That is my social life.

Enter the third millenium and my moribund social life has transmogrified into a two dimensional experience. This translates as me no longer meeting people in the flesh, but still managing to have conversations with them, sometimes late into the night (dependant on where they live) thereby maintaining my contact with the outside world (i.e. beyond the four walls surrounding me). I am living the social life of the 21st Century - through MSN Messenger.

I have to say that it has reinvigorated my sense of belonging. Once again I am able to talk with friends, old and new, albeit through a screen - but for someone like me, who craves sociability, its been a sort of lifesaver.

Am I the only person to be living this sort of existence or is my situation symptomatic of the way society itself is evolving? It is fascinating, yet frightening. However, for me, it is nothing short of being fantastic.

So, switch your PC on old friends and log in - I'm back.

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith

WARNING!!!

IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM YET AND ARE HOPING TO DO SO, PLEASE DON'T READ THIS BLOG!!!

Dana says that my opinion of the film is probably coloured by the expectation I've had (like everyone else, I imagine) and that six months down the line, I might change my mind.
I don't think so.

So what did I like?

Aside from the astounding special effects (which are taken as granted), it is the only one of the prequels that feels like the other Star Wars movies (i.e. the older ones). This could very well be down to the presence of a numerous beloved characters (like Chewbacca and yes, Vader) or maybe the knowledge that the events we are witnessing therein are indeed leading up to the start of Episode 4 (known to you and I as the original Star Wars movie). Without a doubt, I would say that it is the best in the series since Return of the Jedi.

What didn't I like?

I was thinking about this (sad person that I am), but I honestly believe that one element has been missing from all three prequels and that is the sense of wonder and spirituality, if you will, that I still experience when watching the other movies. You really do care what happens to Luke and his friends. You empathise with them - they are a team. I'm afraid, I can't say the same about the new lot. The whole mystical element of the Force which elevates the movies above your average sci-fi/action extravaganza is sadly missing from the prequels and this, to me, is what makes the original Star Wars movies, so, dare I say it, original?

I think the chief fault lies with the miscasting, once again, of the actor playing Anakin Skywalker. He just doesn't do it for me. Ani (we're on first name terms I'll have you know) is meant to be a tragic figure who has given himself to the Force. Sorry , but I really didn't feel too empathetic, because the actor just didn't convince me with his portrayal.
Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Ian McDiarmid (Palapatine) were great, but poor old Hayden Christensen's acting just left me cold. At the end of the movie, I'm still not sure why Anakin went over to the dark side (maybe it's just my lack of understanding) and if it's because of Padmé - that does seem like an awfully twee reason to want to rule the galaxy!
See it, enjoy, but don't expect a film that tops any of the first three movies.

FINAL RATING:
4/5 CLAUDIE'S

Sunday, 22 May 2005

Blessed Is The Match

A while back, on my previous site, I posted a blog about Hannah Szenes. This is what I wrote:

"Blessed Is The Match


Hannah Szenes was a young, Jewish Hungarian girl who emigrated to Palestine in the 1930's. During the Second World War, she volunteered to parachute back into Hungary to help rescue the Jews therein. She was captured by the Nazis and along with the complicity of the Hungarians (under Horthy), she was tortured and executed. After the establishment of the State of Israel, she was re-buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. She was only 23 years old. I so very much wish she had lived to experience the founding of the State of Israel. She would have been so proud.

A number of years ago, I read her diary. I was so moved by the content that I felt the need to set one of her poems, written in Yugoslavia, just before her capture in 1944, to music.

Blessed Is the Match

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honour's sake
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.


Hannah has been a heroine of mine for a long time.

This entry is for her."

You can now hear the song if you press the "play" button.

Friday, 20 May 2005

Typical!

I've just given a fab lesson to one of my year eight classes. Everything worked. The kids behaved well, they got on with the work; the resource sheets I used were relevant and easy to fill in and the end result was an informative lesson where learning took place. Most of all, I was in full control and only raised my voice once.

As I was being observed by another teacher at the time, you might erroneously conclude that this was a deciding factor in my raising my standard (perish the thought!!!), despite the fact that she gave me a glowing report.

So why then, should a lesson of this calibre (yes, I am showing off!) happen just as I'm about to leave? I've established a good rapport with the students, I'm fully in control of the class and I've got them working. For a teacher, it doesn't get much better than this.

I found the same thing in my last school. Just as I had raised my game and given a higher quality output, I ended my placement. I've spoken to other teachers about this and it seems to be a common problem.

It takes a long time to establish yourself in front of a class. At first, they don't know you or you them; then you need to get control AND start the students producing the work and finally you will end up seeing the fruits of your labour (well, honestly, less fruits, more seedlings). Ideally, you will mark work that demonstrates some sort of understanding of the subjects you've been teaching over a term or so.

I am at the last stage of this cycle right now. I know that when I start in my new school, I'll have to go through the process again. Fortunately though, I'll have more than three months to raise my standard of teaching.

Ah, the challenge!

Daddy/Teacher

Following on from yesterday's entry, I am continuing my journey into the weird and wonderful world of self-improvement.

It's really difficult to try and change aspects of one's character, that seem so normal, as to be frighteningly unmanageable. That's how I feel about my temper and in particular, the fact that I shout a lot when I get annoyed. The shouting leads to an outburst and then I've lost total control. What if I stopped (or least minimised) my shouting?

It's going to be a long upward challenge but as the proverb states: "Every long journey starts with the first step". Yesterday, I took that step. After ending up with a sore throat at the end of each lesson, for want of shouting, I decided to take a different strategy: talk.

So I talked to the students and the result was a calm, productive environment. I don't know if this was a one off, but I'm going to try it again with other classes. More importantly, I'm going to try it at home and see if it makes a difference in the way I deal with a situation.

I'll be honest, there is a certain selfish element to this exercise. I have found myself (unconsciously) shouting so much at my students, that my voice is starting to suffer. At times, my voice breaks as I am speaking, so that syllables are not coming through. I need to give the old voice box a rest and shouting can't be doing it any good. So, I'm going to talk - I'm going to make a concerted effort not to shout, even when angry and see if this changes the way I react to situations that frustrate me, where I feel out of control.

I don't know how successful I will be in limiting the shouting, but if I don't try, I'll never know.

Let the "speaking" match begin.

Thursday, 19 May 2005

Daddy

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt that the hardest challenge I've faced to date is that of being a father.

There's not a day that goes by when I don't wonder, at least once, whether or not I deserve to be given that responsibility. I can't even start to count the mistakes I've made in the role; whether it's about the way I talk to my kids; spend enough time with them; don't spend enough time with them; discipline them; don't discipline them...the list is endless.

My eldest and I have clashed since she was very young. Character-wise, we are pretty similar which sometimes leads to an explosive concoction of temperament and sheer bloody-mindedness . The low point was last week. After another clash, she ended up writing a "book" about how much she hated me. She subsequently felt terrible about the "publication" as did I and wanted to rip it up, but I stopped her. It was time for a téte-à-téte in which we tried to find a way to build bridges instead of destroying them. The next few days saw her showering me with numerous pretty "I love you daddy" cards. We're still on that narrow path, but I feel that I am more aware of her grievances.

Number two is also being problematic right now. She is similarly blessed with the same stubbornness (I blame their mother for that) but less easy to reason with. Her ezcema playing up also helps to provide an irritation, although it is too easy to blame this for her negative behaviour. More bridges to build I guess.

Numbers three and four are thank G-d still enjoying their daddy, without giving him too much grief. Number four in particular is rather keen on the old man...

Please don't think I completely blame my kids for the way they treat me. I am far from perfect and continuously make my life more difficult through stupid actions and responses. I wish I knew the key to getting the best out of them and showing myself as a being a model/perfect father (if there is such a person). As I said, it's so hard - yet Dana, wise as ever made the following comment:

"Don't give up on her (no 1)".

I guess I have to use that as my mantra with respect to all four. As crap a father as I think I may be, I have to ensure that I do a better job and avoid giving up on trying to get better at the job.

This year has been a tough learning curve, both professionally and personally. Let's hope I can learn the lessons and pass the results through to my wife and kids.

I can't afford to give up on either.

Wednesday, 18 May 2005

I Couldn't Wait Till Monday!

I'm sorry, I know I wrote that I would only upload my songs once a week, but I couldn't wait until Monday to share another composition with you. I wrote Show Me (How) back in 1989 and if you click the "play" button, you will hear a singer called Claudia Van Buren, blessed with a fantastic voice, who delivers a stirling performance, with yours truly providing the piano backing.

Claudia and I met when we used to attend Israeli dancing classes. Being a professional singer, she asked to hear some of my songs and liked this one enough to record it. The recording machinery was primitive (i.e. my cranky cassette deck) and so the sound quality is not the best. However, her truly amazing voice more than overcomes the technical limitations of the medium.

If only I could sing like that!

Good Joke

A Hassid is standing by a hotel bar about an hour before shabbos all
dressed up in his special Shabbos clothes.

A magnificent looking blonde air hostess, with legs that go on forever, and
breasts that are just waiting to envelop you, has just finished checking
in, and is on her way to the lifts, when she sees the Hassid. She stops
dead in her tracks and walks over to him.

"Hi" she says ; " hullo" he answers.

"I have a confession to make to you," she says he nods.

"I have a sexual fantasy". He nods.

"I want to be with a Hassidic man. I want to run my hands up and down his
white silk socks, run my hands over his tzitzis, play with his gartel, run
my fingers through his beautiful beard, and play with his payess. in fact I
want you now, and I have a room upstairs, will you join me for half an
hour."

He looks at her thoughtfully and says "AND WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?"

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

I Got It!

I'm delighted to report that at about 2 p.m. this afternoon, I passed my numeracy skill test. I kid you not, but I actually had tears in my eyes. If you sadistically feel the need to re-live my last attempt, please feel free to click on this! I guess Kiki was right when she said I'd get it next time.

In less than a week, I've managed to not only secure a job but also pass my final skills test. All I need to do is get some more successful observations under my belt, pass my other assignments, give a mini presentation to the other students in my group (and my mentor) and bob's your uncle - I'm set.

Nothing though will give me as much satisfaction as passing that damned test.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls....I got it!

Monday, 16 May 2005

The Old School

I had the pleasure of spending the day at my kids' school, observing Key Stage 2 lessons in Year 3.

At one point, the teacher even asked me to take over and teach the class about the origins of the expression "raining cats and dogs"! I really enjoyed getting up infront of the class and talking about something that didn't entail carry out a demonstration of the computer!

I made it a point of staying out of my daughters' classes although I couldn't resist looking for them during the lunch break.

All in all, a lovely and illuminating day. Dana was afraid that I might see the school in a bad light, as a result of the experience. If anything, I'm even more impressed than I was before I walked in, not as a parent...but as a teacher.

The Songwriter

The last entry really got me thinking. As you will recall, I alluded to some songs I'd written. To be precise, I wrote over sixty compositions between 1985 and 1992. I even managed to get into the finals of two song contests although I didn't win either. No matter.

I'm fortunate in that I recorded all my songs onto cassette (I can read music but never bothered to notate) and a couple of years ago, transferred these onto CD. The beauty of this means that all the compositions are downloadable to PC.

You might have noticed a new feature about the third of the way down the left hand column of this page. I thought it would be a nice idea to give you the option of hearing some of my compositions. I have to warn you that I'm not a Frank Sinatra. Far from it - but I hope that you won't find my voice too grating (or upsetting!!!) Some of my compositions are just tunes, played by me on the piano, whilst others are fully fledged songs, for which I wrote both the music and lyrics.

Please feel free to press the play button to listen. As the files (which are in the MP3 format) are quite large (up to 2mb), they may take a while to come through (particularly if you have a dial-up connection) . I will try to upload a new piece every week. Please tell me if you have trouble getting a connection.

I'm neither Lennon nor McCartney, Leonard Cohen nor Dylan but I think I've got a style that's all my own. I hope you enjoy listening to the another side of me. I really enjoyed writing those numbers. Who knows, I might come up with some more one of these days.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

This Boy

On Friday, a teacher at the school made an interesting comment to another teacher who is pregnant. He said: "Be careful which music you listen to when the baby is born, because you will never be able to listen to that music properly again. Every time you hear it, your wife will say, "switch that off!" as it reminds me too much of labour!"

This got me thinking about the influence music has had on my life to date.

It may, or may not surprise you to know that as a teenager, I was a pretty mediocre student. I suppose I had the head to study, if not the will to apply myself. 1I found being 16, pretty difficult (as anyone who's been there can attest) and as someone who didn't have the highest self-esteem, I really had no idea of what I was or where I wanted to be.

February 24th 1985 changed that.

I had spent the weekend with a youth group, B'nei Akiva, visiting Liverpool. On Sunday, February 23rd, we visited a museum about the Beatles. I'd heard their music before, knew the songs, but as I walked around the beautifully laid out halls, something clicked. I couldn't explain it but resolved, for reasons which I still can't fathom today, to go out there and buy all their records/tapes.

The next morning, I popped into the local record store and bought Please Please Me . I remember putting the tape into my Sony Walkman and listening to it as I walked to school (I had recently found a new shortcut and enjoyed the walk, which took about half-an-hour).

Slowly but surely, I built up my collection. I think the next purchase was Sgt. Pepper. I remember going to a shop in Camden Town and my parents buying me The Red Album on (1962-66) on Vinyl. I lay infront of our old JVC system and listened intently to all four sides.

And so it went on. I bought the Abbey Road and Let It Be records in Brent Cross (I'd decided to get the albums as I was afraid the pre-recorded cassettes would wear out and also because the covers on the records showed more detail - something that has been lost on CD's)

Summer came along and I was in full Beatles swing. I went to Israel, fell in love for the first time and the glue that bonded us first together was.....that's right, the Beatles. She was as much as fan as I, if not more. So now, the Beatles had brightened up both my school existence and love life! It doesn't get much better than that. I can say, without hesitation that the music got me through the rest of my teenage years. Whenever I was down (and even if I wasn't), I listened to their music and I was instantly re-energized.

My interest in the Beatles' music coincided with my own growing exploration into songwriting. My early compositions were, without a doubt, influenced by the Beatles' sound. Writing music is something that I hope to go back to, one day.

When I met Dana, she understood my passion and as a result, has been instrumental in ensuring that our kids grow up listening to Daddy's music. Hadassah loves Help! and Michal too, is a big fan of The Yellow Submarine.

I could go on writing about how the Beatles have affected my life and why they are still such an important element of the person that is me, but I'll spare you.

I'd be interested to hear from any of you, if you've had similar experiences with music. Someone said that music has the power to move nations. I don't know about that but I can swear that for me, imusicreally was my knight in shining armour.

Twenty years on inside me, my Beatles still rock.

Thursday, 12 May 2005

Blogging Conference

This is a nice piece on a recent blogging conference held in Tennessee.
Please click the link.

I guess this means that blogging is here to stay!

Four Little Words

These are the four most exciting words I've written on my site(s) to date:
I've Got The Job!


I received a phone call from the Headmaster this morning to tell me the news. Needless to say, my response to his comments was: "Fantastic!"


The other good news is that the school is happy to start my contract on 30th June, which means that:
a) I qualify to have the Government pay back my student loan - the cut-off date is 30 June and
b) I get paid over the summer.
He said that they had been "very impressed with my performance last Friday", which sent my ego into the stratosphere. Just as a measure of how ecstatic I am, I had a Year 10 class straight afterwards and they were horrible and yet, I'm still having difficulty extracating myself from the ceiling!
This is a truly joyful blog. On Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, I have landed myself a new job, a chance to pay back my student loan and the fact that everyone around me (who cares) is delighted. I too have achieved some independence.
Finally, I got that job because of the lesson I delivered, which Dana effectively created. She deserves all the credit (yet again) for helping me to reach this wonderful result. I just wanted all of you, out there in cyberspace to know that.
Thank you Dana. This one's for you - you are my rock, my inspiration and my Queen. Get ready for the best meal of your life...EVER!!!

Another day, Another $

This week sees three of my classes going off on study leave, so I'm going to be spending the last weeks at the school working on other projects (like putting up displays). I am beginning to feel the end is in sight (who are we kidding, it IS!) and just as in the other school, I have found a new confidence in my teaching abilities - right when I'm about to leave.

I have established good relationships with most of my classes, am getting some work out of them (and that is a feat) and feel quite comfortable as a teacher in the school.

Time to move on, I guess.

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

The Other Blog

I wrote an impassioned blog as to how much of a proud Zionist I am...and it got lost in the process of publishing!

I guess it was not meant to be.

Happy Birthday Israel. My heart, my soul and my mind are entwined with your very existence.

You're the best.

G-d bless you in every thing you do and to hell with anyone who attacks you. You're much better than they will ever be.

I'm a Zionist. Need more be said?

21,194

Posted by Hello


Today is Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and security personnel and 21,194 is the number of our boys and girls who have fallen defending the State of Israel since 1948. It is such a cold, unfeeling way of remembering them, because each one was a world in him/herself and we Jews don't like referring to one another as numbers.

That was for the Nazis.

So let's add some warmth to these terrible figures.

Twenty one thousand, one hundred and ninety four human beings have given up their futures, aspirations and dreams in defense of the land of Israel. These souls are no longer here to see the fruits of their labour, but their memory lives on - Not through these numbers, but within the very fibre of people they touched and enriched.

We, the living, have a duty to remember them and their sacrifice in the most appropriate manner and that is by living as Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora. May their parents, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, relatives and friends draw some comfort from the fact that today, the land of Israel is once more Jewish - sadly due to their terrible fate.

I know that G-d in Heaven is protecting these poor souls from any further harm. It is, with this in mind that we bow our heads and remember their memory in our hearts and minds.

The number is horrendous, because it is exists. Let us pray that we can indeed put a full stop to the figure from this day forward.

Tihiyena nafshotam tzurerot bitzeror hachayim - May their souls be bound in the everlasting light.

Amen.

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

It's Incredible!

We received the lovely photo of the girls (please scroll down to have a look) yesterday. A few minutes later, with the aid of a scanner, I had it displayed as my desktop wallpaper, entered onto this site, as well as being wallpaper on my cellphone screen.

We take technology these days for granted, but I have to admit that I was pretty gobsmacked at the idea of being able to use the photo in so many different ways - in so short a time. If you had told someone ten years ago, that you would soon be able to share your pictures with anyone in the world at the click of a mouse button, they would not have believed you. Who could envisage that we would not only walk around with telephones wherever we went, but also use them to take photographs?!

Sometimes, it's interesting to take a step back and look at the technology available to so many of us. We take so much for granted these days and it is so easy to become blasé, that I sometimes wonder whether we really deserve such luxuries.

I'm glad to report that over the last year, the blog, as a medium of communication has really come into it's own. In countries like Iran, blogs are being banned as they are seen as being dangerous. People are finding ways to express themselves as never before and once again, the pen (or rather mouse) is proving to be mightier than the sword.

When I started this "project", for want of a better word, people thought I was a little mad (or perhaps, a little madder!) sharing my ideas with strangers. "Why would you want to do that?" I was asked. I couldn't explain it but perhaps the explosion in blogging has helped to redefine my motives for using this sort of communication. I still can't give an adequate reason for wanting to share my thoughts with you. It just feels like the right thing to do and it is so enjoyable that I never want to stop!

Blogging is the latest form of communication. I think we've evolved a lot since those cave drawings and yet, maybe this is the constant that runs throughout the ages. Man has always needed to communicate with others. Perhaps, in our blogging, we are just carrying this intrinsic desire to spread our ideas and thoughts to other human beings. I really don't know.

The technology amazes and sometimes frustrates, but there's no denying that we have definitely entered a new age of communication. My job as an IT teacher helps me to get those inquisitive minds looking for new solutions. I guess that for me, communication can't get better than that.

The Best Thing Since....

The next four words are bound to strike fear into the hearts of every Kosher Baker:

Kingsmill bread is delicious!

Last Friday's Jewish Chronicle reported that the Sephardi Kashrut Authority has been carrying out some research into the manfucturing of bread in one of the country's biggest bakeries. It has found the whole process to be 100% kosher (well, let's say 99% because nothing in Judaism, except for the belief in one G-d, is 100%) and as a result, we are now allowed to eat the same bread that is consumed by virtually everyone else in the country (apart from the X amount of people who are gluten intolerant, but let's not spoil the mood, hey?).

This will no doubt be nightmare country for the Kosher bakers who rely on people like myself to fill their tills and pay for their mortgages. However, proud that I am, of being an Orthodox Jew, I have no qualms whatsoever about buying the other bread, now that's it is both kosher (I'm not even going to expand on how yummy their crumpets are either) and more significantly, half the price.

Well, dear bakers, I don't think you need to shut up shop quite yet. Remember, this is the Sephardi Kashrut Authority. This means that many of my more, ahem, religious compatriots will still be providing you with business as they don't recognise the "authenticity" of the supervision. Rest easy guys, you'll be fine.

As far as I'm concerned, kosher is kosher, be it through the Sephardim, Beth Din or even, dare I say it, Kedassia. I think the whole kosher thing is a racket anyway, where politics and money play a far more significant role than the Halachah (bite on that one, boys). Food should either be kosher or not in my book and so I don't buy into the whole Kedassia-Beth Din-Sephardi Authority thing. Period.

Back to the bread! Let me tell you that it's absolutely delicious and I recommend you go to the supermarkets and get yourself a loaf or two. I look forward to seeing the price of bread in the Kosher stores dropping quicker than the shares on the Stock exchange in 1929.

Let's just hope the bread companies don't start a new line in Challah....

Monday, 9 May 2005

This is great - Please read it out loud

Why Computers Sometimes Crash! by Dr. Seuss.

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort, and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash, and your data is corrupted cause the index doesn't hash, then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house, says the network is connected to the button on your mouse, but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol, that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss, so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse; then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, 'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang.

When the copy on your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk, and the macro code instructions is causing unnecessary risk, then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM, and then quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!

Our Gorgeous Girls



Sunday, 8 May 2005

Compare and Contrast

Some of you might have noticed that I've said nary a word about the UK General Election. When you think back to the US Presidential Election last year, do you remember my entries? I talked so much about it that I even ended up irritating myself!

Yet, here we are in the UK and the General Election has passed me by.

Did I vote? Damn right I did because I intrisically believe in the importance of democracy and exercising your chance to vote. We are luckier than many others in far away (and not so distant) places, who don't have that opportunity to do something. The truth is that there was never any real chance that Blair would lose, so why carp on about an election that was so very boring?

I wish I could provide you with some deep-seated meaning for my lack of interest and belief that these blogs could do without some useless politicking. Unfortunately, sheer boredom and knowledge that the inevitable would happen (and it did) drew a blank in the blogesphere of my mind (the place where blogs are born, sometimes die but seldom get forgotten).

Surprise surprise.
Blair won.

Let's continue our lives as though an election never happened - and if it did, I don't quite remember when.

Why Is This Year Different?

A sea of people.

Walking up the Mall, on the way to Buckingham Palace, I turned around to look at the mass of men, women and children following me. The air was filled with electricity and I tried to envisage what it must have felt like, all those years ago, making your way to the Palace to see the King and Queen on the balcony and sharing the occasion that was May 8th 1945.

May 8th 1995 was no doubt different, but it was memorable just the same. I didn't manage to see the Queen as she was too far away, but I heard Cliff Richard live (please don't feel too envious) and I found myself, amongst the throngs, standing behind a Hassid. I guess we guys get everywhere.

The RAF fly-by was incredible, except that my agrophobia got a little in the way. That said, it was a momentous occasion and at the time, we never cared to think that ten years on, the anniversary wouldn't merit the same sort of celebration.

I have a bit of problem with commemorations. Does the fact that the War finished sixty instead of fifty years ago today, mean that we should be celebrating any less? The people who died are now dead for an extra ten years, so does that make their death any more acceptable?
The others who risked their lives are now ten years older. Why was their courage not given the same "media spotlight" this time around?

Maybe it's a Jewish thing but for us, every single anniversary is given the same respect. We treat each Tisha B'av as though the Temple was destroyed this year. Each Yom Haatzmaut, Israel's re-birth is celebrated in the same way. The Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah) remembered the same souls in 2005 as in 2004 and the pain of the Holocaust is just as acute, if not more so, than ten years ago.

My point? Let's treat each occasion in the same way. I don't mean that we should have the Queen appearing on the balcony every single May 8th, but there is something incongruous in making such a big deal on the 50th Anniversary and yet, virtually ignoring the 60th one. Why isn't there another Bank Holiday, like there was in 1995? Why aren't people going to the Palace this year?

Why does this bother me so?

Friday, 6 May 2005

And the Successful Candidate is....

Well, it might be me and then again, it might not.

There were four of us there today including one guy who is already working at the school (so he probably got the job). We all gave lessons and had the same interview. The headmaster was due to inform us at the end of the day as to who got the post, but instead told the four of us, seated around the large table in his room that...

He was 80% certain about the successful candidate, but was still waiting on a least one reference from each and everyone of us. Upon leaving the school (and rather intelligently forgetting my coat, but let's not talk about that now), I contacted my uni and asked for my lovely lecturer to get the reference over ASAP.

So here I am on Friday afternoon and no wiser as to whether I got the job. Great isn't it?

Cliffhangers like this, I really do not need.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

Nissan

Today is the 26th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. Today is also the momentous date of our acquiring our new Nissan Serena.

So you could say we got a Nissan in Nissan.

The car drives like a dream.

Truly a Nissan to remember!

The Big Day?

I've got my interview at the school tomorrow. I've been told I have to give a 35 minute lesson titled "How to use a questionnaire to collect data". Thrilling huh?

I've put together a lesson plan and am mugging up on the Government's education policies (just in case I'm asked). I honestly don't know how it will pan out, but whatever happens, it will be a positive experience.

I will find out how I fared by the end of the day, so at least, no long waiting. If I get in, great. If not, it's eyes peeled on the job ads...

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Single Minded

I've just spent a very pleasant evening at a good friend's fortieth birthday party.

Most of the people present were single and boy, did it feel great not to be one of them. I don't want to sound smug here, but it really makes you thank G-d that you are married and in my case, to such a special person. For the first time in a while, I didn't take being married for granted. I felt privileged, blessed and so very grateful that I had made the leap. I've got a wife and four kids to show for it and that really separates me from those poor souls who haven't yet moved to "our level".

If you are single and reading this, fret not. Your partner is somewhere out there and he/she will find you. However, If you're married, you will know exactly what I'm crooning about.

Doesn't it feel great to have moved from the single life?

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Back to School (Ugh!)

Don't get me wrong. I really do enjoy what I do but I could have done without having to return to school this morning. My hay-fever has abated somewhat, but I feel totally drained and not particularly in the mood to teach.

HOWEVER, I should remember that I'm only here for another four weeks and then it's total pandemonium, as I get everything ready for handing in, to the university. I have decided to work continuously over the next seven weeks or so, to ensure that I don't get the whole panic thing in the last five days.

School hasn't started yet, so I'm enjoying a few precious minutes of calm! Come Friday and I've got an interview, so I have to ensure that I'm in tip-top shape and able to demonstrate the best teaching that I can muster. Who knows, by this time next week, I might be looking forward to starting a new teaching job in September.

Whatever happens, I must remain positive and with that attitude, I can look forward to this new term in the right frame of mind. Truth be told, the students I am teaching have serious exams facing them and so they too won't be that enamoured about coming back today.

All in all, I think I'll be quite happy when today is over!

Monday, 2 May 2005

You Give Me Fever

It seemed like such a good idea at the time. The weather was glorious and, being a Bank Holiday, we had to do something.

"Let's go to the park", I suggested. Great idea huh?

BONGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!

uh uh.

The kids loved rolling down the gently undulating hills and yours truly, settled comfortably on the soft, luscious grass looked at the sun, the kids, the other people enjoying the weather and promptly started to sneeze and sneeze....and....

That was about seven hours ago and my hay-fever has no inclination whatsoever of leaving me for the foreseeable future. Which moment of madness convinced me that the best place to visit was a wide open space and sit on grass - which I might add I am severely allergic to, at this precise time of year? Which mad thought was it?

So there you have it. The kids had a wonderful time whilst, the highlight of the afternoon for me, was finding some toilet paper which could to double up as tissues.

Yes, it was that pathetic.

The most important factor is that wife and children had a good time. As for me... well, lets just say that I won't be pushing for a another trip to the park for a good few months. I've learnt my lesson. Believe me, I've learned it well and good.

Please excuse me, but there's a new box of tissues dying to be opened.

Freedom

Passover is the Festival of Freedom and today, I know exactly what that means.

Today, I feel total freedom to eat whatever I want (kosher of course), do things I need to do (after two days yomtov)....