All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).
Saturday, 30 September 2006
On Yom Kippur, we ask G-d to forgive us for all the sins of the past year, at the same time as praying for a successful, healthy, peaceful new year.
We believe that the gates of heaven are wide open to us for the duration of the day. Then again, if you're a computer techie like me...
I could get a little more radical and change the whole template, but to be honest, I've got so many additional scripts, that I don't know what a mess it would cause (and more importantly, how much time I would spend sorting it out). So the colour's changed and that's about it (aside from the Blogger's own little idiosyncrasies, like the archives thingy). A useful feature I have noticed is that I can now tag the posts, so that all the teaching posts can be bunched together, or alternatively, all the Israel ones - I just need to be consistent with the tagging!
Ok, what do you think of the "new look"?
If there are any designers out there, could you suggest a more suitable colour for the title text, background etc?
If not, royal blue it will be (until I get bored of it).
Friday, 29 September 2006
Israel will soon welcome from India descendants of a ‘lost’ Jewish tribe
By Dina Kraft, JTA
TEL AVIV, Sept. 26 (JTA) — A group of 218 people from a remote mountainous corner of northeastern India who claim descent from one of the lost biblical tribes will be immigrating to Israel as recognized Jews for the first time.
The aliyah of members from the Bnei Menashe community to Israel is a turning point, said Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Israel which assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.
“This is a major historical event, because these members of a lost tribe of Israel, after 27 centuries of wandering in exile, will at last be coming home,” he said.
News of the planned arrival in November of 218 Bnei Menashe, who have already undergone official conversion in India, was made public for the first time on Tuesday after it was leaked to the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.
The government decision to bring the 218 to Israel followed months of bureaucratic wrangling in which Israel’s Interior Ministry and Absorption Ministry balked at plans to bring them here, Freund told JTA.
Advocates have been working for years to convince Israeli authorities that the Bnei Menashe were indeed long-lost Jews who had returned to the faith. They hope this group will pave the way for others in the community to also make aliyah.
The group of immigrants went through conversion courses and were approved for conversion by rabbinical judges sent to India last year by Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Amar has declared Bnei Menashe “descendants of the Jewish people” and has been working to help facilitate the aliyah of those who want to live in Israel.
To date, many of the some 1,000 members of the community – who arrived in the country as tourists and later converted to Judaism and became citizens – live in West Bank settlements. Some also lived in settlements in the Gaza Strip until last year’s Israeli withdrawal.
The decision to place them predominately in settlements has drawn criticism. Their advocates say the move was not a political but a practical decision. They say the settlements were among the only communities in the country willing to financially help the Bnei Menashe who arrived in Israel and had to spend their first year studying for conversion, without much time to hold down jobs.
Tzvi Khaute, 32, lives in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, on the outskirts of Hebron, where the largest number of Bnei Menashe reside. He welcomes the government decision to bring more of his community to Israel as Jewish immigrants for the first time. “It really is a dream come true,” said Khaute, who studies in a yeshiva part-time and works for the Shavei offices.
The group that is scheduled to arrive in November will be living for the first year in absorption centers in the northern towns of Carmiel and Nazareth Ilit. Some 7,000 Bnei Menashe live in the northeastern Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur. They trace their descent to the tribe of Menashe, one of the 10 tribes expelled from ancient Israel by the Assyrians.
They claim their ancestors wandered eastward toward China, then eventually settled to the south in what is now northeastern India and nearby Myanmar.
Most of the community converted to Christianity at the turn of the 20th century. In recent decades, some have returned to the Judaism their ancestors have practiced for centuries, including observing Shabbat, keeping the laws of kashrut, practicing circumcision on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life and observing the laws of family purity.
The Jewish Agency will be facilitating their absorption into Israel. Freund said some $1 million in financial support for the undertaking will be provided by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a Chicago-based group that has raised tens of millions of dollars from Christian supporters of Israel.
Thursday, 28 September 2006
However (!) , although I made the movie and uploaded it to YouTube, the site is frustratingly refusing to post it to Blogger, so if you do wish to see it, please click here.
Wednesday, 27 September 2006
There must obviously be some sort of hyperactive infection going around the school because the Year 8 and 9 kids have forgotten what they are coming to school for (er, education anyone?).
They are sitting in lessons (I hasten to add that I'm not the only one experiencing this) talking as though there's no tomorrow, answering back and generally demonstrating behaviour that is so off-task, they might as well be climbing the walls.
Then again, the reason might stem in the fact that they were let out early on Monday afternoon as there was an open day for primary school kids...and came in late on Tuesday (missing registration). In other words, their regular routine has been messed up.
Whatever the reason, this school week is turning into the worst I've experienced in quite a while.
Hence my absolute need to relax with my trusty guitar by my side.
Hell, it works for me.
Monday, 25 September 2006
Sunday, 24 September 2006
I helped to run the little kiddies Rosh Hashanah service in the shul yesterday and today.
Man oh man, can those Jewish women talk. Non bloody stop!
You see them in shul three times a year (if you’re lucky) and when they get there, they sit with their kids and yap as though there’s no tomorrow.
The hapless people at the front try to run the service but we can’t hear what we’re doing because of the incessant jabbering. Well anyway, today I took the Shofar (Ram’s horn) in and did my thing. I blew it…at one point, to get the parents to shut up! At least the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.
Today’s service was infinitely better than yesterday’s (we didn’t blow the horn yesterday as it was Shabbat) and I think everyone had a good time. I even got a commendation (of sorts) from the rabbi who heard my blow-out attempts.
Then again, at least someone was listening and yes, I am exaggerating.
Friday, 22 September 2006
This thought was very much on my mind as I walked into school this morning only to be told that a local water main had burst and as a result, we were to get in touch with the childrens' parents and obtain permission to send them home, as school had to close for the day. Of course, teachers were also asked to leave.
Keeping in mind that the New Year starts this evening, I couldn't think of a more opportune moment for something like this to happen, granted that I've got quite a bit to do in advance of the holiday.
So you see, G-d answers prayers!
Thursday, 21 September 2006
He may speak in a softly spoken voice, but the words that come out of his mouth could have been also uttered by Hitler or Goebbels, so venomous they are. All the more frightening was his “rational” explanation for the Holocaust never having taken place, as well as his call for Israel to disappear.
Setting aside the question of how someone like him actually got to America, I write this, without histrionics or drama - and state categorically that this monster must be removed from his position of power.
If he isn’t, I don’t even want to contemplate the kind of catastrophe we could all be facing soon. You don’t reason with this man.
He is Hitler re-born and I am not exaggerating in any way.
The boy says: “Why are you calling me ‘that young man’ instead of using my name?”
My instant response:
“If you contributed more to my lessons, I’d probably know your name”.
Wednesday, 20 September 2006
Am I correct in surmising that the President of Iran, a man who is constantly denying the Holocaust took place whilst calling for another sovereign member country of the United Nations to be “wiped off the planet” - is allowed to enter the United States (a country he hates) and address the UN? A man who could potentially ignite the next world war?
If I am, this situation makes an absolute mockery of what the United Nations stands for.
This is not a case of someone being allowed to “present their own point of view”. By granting this monster of a man the legitimacy to go wherever he wants and stand at, what could arguably be described as the most important podium on the planet, we have, without a doubt, gone down the road of madness.
Then again, maybe this is the key decision that demonstrates once and for all that the UN really is a bloody stupid waste of time and money.
Tuesday, 19 September 2006
Monday, 18 September 2006
1:2 The earth was without form and empty, with darkness
on the face of the depths, but G-d's spirit moved on the water's surface.
1:3 G-d said, 'There shall be light,' and light came into existence.
1:4 G-d saw that the light was good, and G-d divided
between the light and the darkness.
1:5 G-d named the light 'Day,' and the darkness He named
'Night.' It was evening and it was morning, one day.
Today, according to Jewish tradition (and the Hebrew calendar) is the anniversary of the creation of the world. At the end of the sixth day, G-d created man and sure enough, this coincides with the advent of the new Jewish Year, Rosh Hashanah (which will start on Friday night).
I have made a point of reminding myself of this fact throughout the day, as if to keep in mind the direction that man has taken throughout the ages. G-d took something without form and made it into infinite galaxies. He nurtured this planet, gave it life and love and then left it to man to guard.
Judging from our actions, both towards ourselves and our planet, I think we've let G-d down.
Yet, here we are on the anniversary of this momentous happening and I think it imperative that we to try to re-ignite the special light that was only witnessed fleetingly on that day.
Whether or not you believe that the creation took one day or millions of years, please give a special thought to this anniversary.
Once again, we have the opportunity to start anew, so please, let's not make a mess of the forthcoming year.
Sunday, 17 September 2006
The girls and I went to a "fun day" at the London Jewish Cultural Centre last Sunday. In attendance was a photographer from the weekly Jewish Chronicle newspaper (one of the event sponsors) who took a snap of me, as I whiled away the afternoon hours playing the office guitar (and yes, the kids were also supervised!).
At one point, my friend D. who works there took the guitar off me and we had a good old sing-song. He's an amazing guitarist (puts me to shame).
If you do have a copy of the paper, the photo is on page 52 of the latest edition.
Thursday, 14 September 2006
Except this time, my emotions were inflamed by a feeling of great anger and frustration that, after all we endured during the Second World War, a fascist shit like Hamanejad of Iran can get up there, on the world's stage and claim that the Holocaust "was a myth".
Even worse, he wants to convene a conference to "research the topic of the Holocaust and all its dimensions in the future".
What the hell?
Why is the world standing by and letting him get away with this crap? After everything we have been through, how can a leader of a country actually make such pronouncements – and see his comments go virtually unchallenged? Why isn’t Britain doing something tangible instead of giving some lily-livered response?
Right now, my blood is boiling.
At least six million human beings, of which, one and a half million children were massacred and this moron comes out with his crap?
G-d I’m so angry.
Wednesday, 13 September 2006
at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he
attempted to board a flight while in possession of a
ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a
At a morning press conference, Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales said he believes the man is a member
of the notorious Al-gebra movement.
He did not identify the man, who has been charged by
the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.
"Al-gebra is a problem for us," Gonzales said. "They
desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes
go off on tangents in search of absolute values.
They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer
to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined
they belong to a common denominator of the axis of
medieval with coordinates in every country.
As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There
are 3 sides to every triangle'."
When asked to comment on the arrest, George W. Bush
said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of
math instruction, He would have given us more fingers
Aides told reporters they could not recall a more
intelligent or profound statement by the President.
A Frenchman, Texan and Israeli were flying in a Jet over the Pacific, when suddenly the engine fails. The plane makes an emergency landing on a distant island and the three are taken hostage by some cannibal tribe.
The three are brought to the chief, who explains that the inhabitants are civilised and thus willing to offer the men a final request before eating them.
The Texan asks for a big steak, lots of French fries and beer. The chief instructs one of his inferiors who instantly returns with the food. The Texan eats and is tossed into the pot.
The Frenchman asks for a case of champagne and a plate of escargot, cooked French-style. Once again, the chief instructs one of his little men and the food is brought before him. Once he finishes eating, the Frenchman is tossed into the pot.
The Chief turns to the Israeli and asks him what he wants. The Israeli answers "I want to be kicked really hard in the behind." The chief shrugs his shoulders in disbelief, asks the Israeli to turn around and kicks him hard. The Israeli turns around immediately, draws his gun and shoots the chief and all his tribesmen dead.
The Frenchman and Texan, amazed, climb out of the pot, turn to the Israeli and ask:
"If you had a weapon all this time, why didn't you do something sooner?"
The Israeli replies: "Really? And risk being accused by the UN, Europe and the US government of using excessive force in response to minimal provocation?"
Monday, 11 September 2006
Planes do not fly into buildings.
Did I know what was going on when the first one hit? No. I couldn’t comprehend such madness. But, when the second one went in, I just knew.
I knew that this was the beginning of something,
Something that we have to finish off right away.
Away from the banalities of life,
Because on September 11th 2001, we witnessed the very first day.
Sunday, 10 September 2006
This scenario was repeated each time they made love, for more than 30 years, with him thinking that it was a cute way for her to afford new clothes and other incidentals that she needed.
Arriving home around noon one day, she was surprised to find her husband in a very drunken state. During the next few minutes, he explained that his employer was going through a process of corporate downsizing, and he had been let go. It was unlikely that, at the age of 59, he'd be able to find another position that paid anywhere near what he'd been earning, and therefore, they were financially ruined.
Calmly, his wife handed him a bank book which showed more than thirty years of steady deposits and interest totalling nearly$1 million. Then she showed him certificates of deposits issued by the bank which were worth over $2 million, and informed him that they were one of the largest depositors in the bank.
She explained that for the more than three decades she had "charged" him for sex, these holdings had multiplied and these were the results of her savings and investments. Faced with evidence of cash and investments worth over $3 million, her husband was so astounded he could barely speak, but finally he found his voice and blurted out, "If I'd had any idea what you were doing, I would have given you all my business!"
That's when she shot him.
You know, sometimes, men just don't know when to keep their mouths shut.
On Friday, I started teaching my new Year 13 class of four. During the course of the lesson, I accidentally (and stupidly) told them that I had not yet taught the unit we’re going through over the year, which is Project Management.
Understandably, this doesn’t exactly give them a great deal of confidence in my teaching. I tried to make up for it by also revealing that, having taken a Business Studies degree, I am pretty clued up about the subject.
What would you now do in my position (although you probably wouldn’t have made the same dumb-assed mistake)?
Thursday, 7 September 2006
I guess it would have been asking too much to be able to give proper IT lessons during the first fortnight back, after a six week summer break (during which time, the building work should have been carried out and completed).
“I’d love to be eight again" she replied.
On the morning of her birthday, he arose early, made her a nice big bowl of Coco Pops, and then took off to the local theme park.
What a day! He put her on every on every ride in the park: the Death Slide, the Wall of Fear, and the Screaming Mouse Roller Coaster, everything there was. Five hours later she staggered out of the theme park. Her head was reeling and her stomach felt upside down.
Right away, they went to a MacDonald’s where her loving husband ordered her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a refreshing chocolate shake. Then it was off to the movies: the latest Star Wars epic, a hot dog, popcorn, all the Coke she could drink, her favorite ice cream, and M&M's. What a fabulous adventure!
Finally she wobbled home with her husband and collapsed into bed exhausted.
He leaned over his precious wife with a big smile and lovingly asked. Well, dear what was it like being eight again?"
Her eyes slowly opened and expression suddenly changed:
“I meant my dress size!”
The moral of the story:
Even when a man is listening, he's still going to get it wrong.
Wednesday, 6 September 2006
I find it hard to believe, (even more so, to write about) but my baby, little Shira, who is just three, started her first day in "big" school today. Suddenly, there was, resplendent in her nursery green outfit, ready to go in and charm the socks off yet even more people.
Where have the last thirty six months disappeared to? Yesterday, there she was, squinting her eyes as she came out into the world and today...
Man, I feel old!
Tuesday, 5 September 2006
"Bin laden and his terrorist's allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them…the question is `will we listen? will we pay attention to what these evil men say?.... the terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience, but they're not madmen…they kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil but not insane."
Whoever his speechwriter is, he deserves a Congressional Medal.
Bush’s message is simple:
Do not think you are dealing with madmen and women. These are rational, calculated people who have a very clear goal. However, the tragedy is, that most of the world’s leaders (in particular, the shitty Europeans) can’t see past their noses and are unwittingly furthering the terrorists’ aims by playing into their “humanitarian” trap.
And it is a trap.
Both George Bush and Tony Blair understand exactly what is going on right now. Blair will probably lose his job soon and Bush doesn’t have long to go.
George Galloway and Ken Livingstone are examples of the kind of British politicians we could get stuck with – and if that happens, we are all in deep, deep trouble.
Monday, 4 September 2006
Not content with “simply” wanting to wipe Israel off the world’s map and denying the Holocaust, Hamanejad, the moronic President of Iran now wants to organise a “Holocaust conference” to examine the evidence “supporting the Nazi genocide of Jews”.
Here’s some evidence for you, Mahmoud baby.
My grandmother lost virtually every single member of her family when Hitler came to power. She never saw them again.
Where did they go?
Children, mothers and fathers simply vanished.
Strangely enough, their names simultaneously appeared in deportation/extermination records kept by the Nazis. They were recorded as having been killed at Auschwitz, amongst other places – by the people (like you) who did the killing.
Your call to organise this conference shows evidence alright – of the justification to ensure that a power-mad moron like you needs to be dealt with severely ASAP.
Deal with it Kofi now, for all our sakes, instead of prancing around like a castrated poodle.
Sunday, 3 September 2006
I know that I’ll rue my enthusiasm and naiveté in a week or so, but, then again, I’m getting pretty tired of being “on holiday”, at home with my wonderful but demanding angels.
A new school year beckons and I really do need to justify the title I've given to this blog!
Friday, 1 September 2006
Golda Meir is reported to have said, ‘I can forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but I cannot forgive them for making us kill theirs.’ My variation of this is to say that I can forgive the apparently rational enemies of Israel for criticizing and pillorying the state beyond the bounds of logic and equity, but I cannot forgive them for pushing me further and further to the right in defence of its right to exist. When a man I admire as a film director, Ken Loach, calls for a boycott of Israel, I resent being forced, as I am, to boycott his work. I enjoyed his ‘Hidden Agenda’ despite its one-sided description of the IRA as jolly, good natured bunch of idealists. (Not a knee-capping, bank-robbing, drug-dealing gangster among them.) But I certainly will not be seeing ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley.’
So here’s my reply to those who call for Israel to be ‘disenfranchised’. You wanna play? I’ll play games too! None of the countries which belong to UN has an inalienable right to exist.
The crude hypocrisy of those who deny Israel’s right to exist is not in their criticism of Israel, but in their refusal to apply the same logic elsewhere! ‘Prejudice’ is not realizing that you are blinded by hatred. So what is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. Yes, let’s scrap all the Muslim and Christian states too for good measure. They have no more right to exist than Israel. What, because Britain and America backs one family of Bedouin camel thieves in the Arabian Peninsula they have an inalienable right to exist as a state? And because some Normans invade and displace the Saxons they have a right to a state? Or because some rejects from England go over and massacre natives the other side of the Atlantic they have a right to a state?
I genuinely believe nations and nationalism is destructive--I mean the political structures, not cultures (but even cultures and religions become tools of death when they are allied to national entities and power brokers). In principle, I believe that all nations should give up their petty selfish powers and be party to a great international common market and government.
I approve of the Marxist anthem, ‘The Internationale’, when it calls to ‘Unite the Human Race.’ Conflict between nations is both a struggle for supremacy and for markets. The nationalism of the nineteenth century that swept through Europe and then the rest of the world was regressive. It created all these competing states, preoccupied with their boundaries, their honour, their culture, their flags, their armies and weapons and lust for ‘lebensraum’. Whereas Napoleon’s vision of one continent united was the logical ideal that might have prevented terrible wars and the loss of millions of lives, sadly, his personal ambition led him to go too far too quickly and to lose what he had gained. But his idea of giving everyone a stake in a grand international community was a brilliant idea. He was the first to enfranchise the Jews. Europe was not ready for it and regressed into the petty nationalism (most states reintroduced anti-Jewish legislation) that led to two World Wars. Similarly, the great ideals of International Brotherhood that Marx preached were destroyed and made a mockery of by self serving lunatics like Lenin and Stalin.
What’s more, current nation-states often repress minorities and are imposed arbitrarily and unfairly. That is why Basques, Catalans, Welsh, Scots to name the most obvious all campaign against these unfair nationalist impositions upon them.
I know full well that no one is going to give up their state or their power. On the contrary, we are busy creating new states and divisions wherever we look. Besides, the pathetic attempts at world government at the UN or the EU have only produced corrupt bureaucracies, guided by self-interest and material gain, divided by an incompetent gaggle of pathetic and usually corrupt ‘leaders’. Humans evolve very, very slowly. Sadly, attempts at achieving change through Communism, that distortion of Marxism, have failed disastrously precisely because humans inevitably corrupt ideals in the pursuit of material and selfish goals. Ironically China may (and I stress the word ‘may’ because it is still far too early to know) actually prove that a Marxist-based form of government is more successful than current petty nationalisms. Not that you and I would choose to live there just yet.
But otherwise we humans seem prepared to destroy our universe through the abuse of our ecological system. Most powers do not seem to care a jot about destroying our natural resources—to hell with the consequences, so long as they can go on making more money. The world is mad, and we are slowly heading to disaster, and the oil-crazy rulers of the world claim that nothing’s going on--even though we ourselves are actually experiencing changes in our climate year by year.
European democracy has shown itself congenitally incapable of defending itself (and don’t give me the war against the Nazis because democracies were only hauled reluctantly screaming to battle when their own interests were threatened). The current crisis is of course the fact that in their desperate need for cheap labour they invited into their democracies those who seeks to overthrow the very nature of democracy and the delicate balance between State and Religion. Developing a democratic form of government just about works in situations where enough citizens care about it and its values. Sadly it seems 50% of Europeans don’t even bother enough to vote when given the freedom. If you then add to the mix those who positively want to undermine democracy you have a recipe for disaster of the magnitude of Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Iran where the majority clearly want a theocratic illiberal autocracy. It is only where autocrats keep the lid on democracy that secularism and some degree of freedom survives. Not as very pretty thought. And the only exception to all this in the Middle East is Israel of course.
The conclusion is that democracy is a failed system as a formula for most countries. I agree we have no clear alternative but that doesn’t mean its failings should not be recognized and nationalism is one of the major culprits. So if you want to dismantle Israel my friends, be consistent and demand the dismantling of all the rest.
Tony Blair seems to be the only current leader in power in Europe with the ability to see the danger and with the guts to try to do something about it and to ignore the siren call from mullahs, unemployed radicals and beauty queens that if Britain changes its policies and stops supporting Israel, everything will be fine in the garden. Blair has the strength to stand up to those pathetic dolts who seem to believe that if we lick the backsides of the enemies of our values and support their mewling complaints that it’s all everyone else’s fault, we will be allowed to live in peace. And look how he is excoriated within his own party.
Over two years ago I wrote it was time to get out. The French Jews are seeing it. They are ubiquitous now in Israel buying up all the property they can lay their hands on. As far as Britain is concerned, what’s the betting George Galloway gets welcomed back by the Labour Party the way Livingstone was? Churchill will be turning in his grave. Frankly, give me a land of my own, embattled as it is, with rockets in Lebanon and Gaza, rather than a state of appeasement, with extremists of different colours and creeds in its universities and its media, Ken Livingstone as a mayor and Galloway as a member of Parliament, any day of the week!
Let the left wing hypocrites declare that Israel should be dismantled. Let Ken Loach have his boycott. Before they know what hit them they’ll be banned from making films and be sitting in jail for fornication.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen received his rabbinic ordination from Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He studied philosophy at Cambridge University, and also holds a PhD in philosophy. He has worked in the rabbinate and Jewish education for more than forty years, in Europe and the US, and is currently director of the Yakar Educational Foundation, and rabbi of Yakar Kehilla, in London.