Friday, June 21, 2013

Stick It To Darkness: Shine Your Light!

This week's Torah Portion is Balak, one of the most extraordinary passages in the Torah.

The Midrash says that certain things were created during Shkiah, that brief portion of the day called twilight, on the eve of the first Shabbat - amongst them, the mouth of Bilam's donkey, which spoke.

Another one of those created at the very last minute things was the soul of Moshiach, that root neshama that would manifest it's soul spark throughout human history in various incarnations - Adam haReshon, Avraham Avinu, Moshe Rabbanu, King David - until coming to it's final fruition in the End of Days as Moshiach, maker of world peace, builder of the Third and final Temple, gatherer of the Jewish People, savior of the world.

Why was "the mouth of the donkey" created while the light was waning yet before darkness actually appeared? Why was the soul of Moshiach created at that time as well? Could it be that the cosmic interplay of light and darkness in primordial Time somehow flavored the future for all of us by these mysterious last-minute preparations that G*d made right before the beginning of the 7th Day, upon which He rested for the very first time?

Shlomo Katz (whom I like to call "The Cohen Gadol of Jewish Music" has some thoughts on the Parsha that will illuminate us all.

Shabbat Shalom from the Holy Land to the World!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jerusalem Songs

   More than anything in my journey of Aliyah which began in March 2007, music has played a central and defining role in my daily life - so much so, that (as you know!) I co-founded an Internet Radio Station in Jerusalem in 2009.

Jerusalem songs - those songs which evoke such longing for the Holy City, sung by those of us who languish in the gap between Jerusalem Above and Jerusalem Belong - are part of my soul, my Jewish Neshama, and part of yours as well if you're a Jew, no matter where you are - Jerusalem, or anywhere else in the world.

Songs and compositions about Jerusalem have expressed the Jews' longing for their holy city for thousands of years. Although King David's Psalms did not mention Jerusalem often by its name, his imagery offers some of the earliest-known poetry that relates to the capitol of the Jewish nation and people.

Specific early references to Jerusalem occur in Divrei HaYamim -- Chronicles I -- which records David's purchase of Har HaBayit. Samuel 6:5 and Psalm 122 capture the majesty of the time when King David brought the Aaron -- the Ark of the Covenant -- to Jerusalem and housed it on Har HaMoriah in a tent.

David's son, King Solomon, built the first Temple in Jerusalem, referenced the city continuously in his Song of Songs. In Shir HaShirim -- Song of Songs -- he wrote "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and by the hinds of the field, that you awaken not, nor arouse love, until it pleases."

Perhaps the most famous literary reference to ancient Jerusalem is recorded in Psalm 137 "by the rivers of Babylon" . When the Babylonian captors asked the Jews to 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion' the Jews responded "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy." This quote continues to be a traditional part of all Jewish wedding ceremonies till today.

Poetry and imagery of Jerusalem continued to dominate the literature of the Jewish diaspora throughout the years of dispersion and exile. Yehuda HaLevi, in his 12th century poems, wrote of the Jewish nation's yearning to return to Jerusalem. "Beautiful land, delight of the world, city of Kings, my heart longs for you from the far-off west."

Early settlers in Ottoman and British Mandatory Palestine continued the tradition of including Jerusalem in their poetic literature. Hayim Nachman Bialik referenced Jerusalem repeatedly in his works. Naftali Imber published his poem Tikvateinu in 1877. "Our hope is not yet lost, the hope that is two-thousand years old, to be a free nation in our land, the Land of Zion, and Jerusalem." Tikvateinu became the basis for today's Israel national anthem, HaTikva.

An extensive American project, the Lowell Milken Archives, has now begun to collect many historical Jewish songs and compositions which reference Jerusalem as they trace the history and development of the region. While the majority of its work follows the progression of the American Jewish community through its music the Milken Archives also includes music of pre-State and post-State Israel, contributing, as it expands, a vast amount of knowledge and understanding of Israel and Jerusalem's history and maturity. Its founder, Jewish businessman Lowell Milken hopes to raise the spirit of American Jews through this music.

The materials that the Archive has collected examine the lives of early Jewish pioneers who settled throughout the Land of Israel. The Archive's Israel Suite includes specific compositions about Jerusalem that examine the poetry and music that has accompanied the development of the modern, multi-ethnic city.

The Milken Archive contains recordings several early composers. Two works by Julius Chajes, Adarim and Old Jerusalem are featured. These compositions reflect perceptions of early 19th century aliyah until statehood and afterward. They reflect the exotic ambiance of Jerusalem through words and musical elements. Meyer Kupferman's work The Shadows of Jerusalem doesn't mention Jerusalem by name but, in a memorial to the memory of his family that was murdered by the Germans during the Holocaust, he references the symbolism of Jerusalem as the hope for redemption and the symbol of Jewish unity.

The Six Day War inspired some of the most profound and moving pieces about Jerusalem. Naomi Shemer's 1967 Jerusalem of Gold is still recognized today as the premier composition of modern times about the joy and exhilaration that the Jewish people felt at having been reunited with their sacred sites. The Milken Archives presents an additional recording. Canticles for Jerusalem by Vivian Fine is a liturgical composition which was created for mezzo-soprano and piano using Yehuda HaLevi's "Libbi B'Mizrach" as the music's inspiration.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jerusalem - A Formula 1 City or a Formula 613 City?

Surely there is a genetic component to the madness that comes upon the male of the species whenever a racing car is in the vicinity. Old and young alike turn into little boys (regardless of age), and little boys love fast racing cars.

Hence my supposition that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat whom, up until now has received my full support for his initiatives attempting to bridge the reality gap between "Yerushalyim Lemallah" and "Yerushalyim Lemattah," has fallen into a time vortex (there are at least three of them just in my neighborhood alone!) and become, once again, an 8-year old boy.

Only an 8 year old boy would think it's a great idea to bring a bevy of Formula 1 Race Cars to Jerusalem, the Holy City, for a two-day (including Erev Shabbos!) road race reminiscent of the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Mayor Barkat - I'm FROM Long Beach, I lived there for 13 years prior to moving to Jerusalem in 2007, and let me assure you: Jerusalem is no Long Beach!

Nevertheless, the Jerusalem Formula 1 (dubbed "The Peace Road Show") has come to town, and the entire male population has lost their minds, and find themselves wandering around the Formula 1 car exhibit and the racetrack (sometimes with the sheepish excuse of "taking the kids to see the cars").

Hello - reality check!!! Are we a Formula 1 City - or are we a Formula 613 City? You KNOW the answer, folks! We're SUPPOSED to be "Ir haKodesh," the Holy City, we should be racing to perform the 613 mitzvot not racing to win a trophy.

Maybe it's a mitzvah for a grown man to act like a kid (perhaps that's covered under one of the other mitzvot, like the one commanding us to guard our health - after all, it IS healthy to think young, right?)

Oy, the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd.  Or is that the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd? Either way - it's "A Day at the Races" in Jerusalem, just another Jerusalicious adventure living in the Holy Land.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Morning in Jerusalem

The wind is blowing and the muezzins are wailing at the edge of the Judean Hills. O, Jerusalem.
Your gold and pink-tipped dawn entices mornings for a thousand thousand years.
Who are we to press ourselves against the fabric of your eternal skirts, you who clothe yourself in the dawn and throw back the windows of the sky to cry to Heaven ... 
Who are we to seek your shelter, your succor, your face? 
Day is revealed like a veil removed to kiss the face of G*d
And who can sleep while your children are stirring, crying and calling for the one who binds all beneath her wings?
The voices of your supplicants rise in the morning air
Answered only by another day
Talit and Tefillin, bells and incense, rugs and beads
A cacophony of praise echo and bounce from stone to sky, carried on the breeze...
Each morning before we renew our ancient grudge 
We sing of Your One-ness with divided hearts and double minds
Each offering imperfect by the blood it bears.
O Jerusalem, unique one
Your mornings rise upon us all, alike.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Comfortably Numb VS. Uncomfortably Frum

Some 40+ hours after breaking (and dislocating!) my left arm's Radius bone, Dr. Percoset finally arrived on the scene, thank G-d.

Now that pain management is possible I'm balancing my need to be Comfortably Numb with the necessity of being Uncomfortably Frum.

That is: I'm considering the halachic necessity of bringing a lawsuit against the owners of the bakery/cafe where this accident occurred on Friday afternoon because their illegal  (poorly  built, utterly unmarked and unrailed ) sidewalk extension is 99% the cause of my injury. I accept 1% of the blame for not having eyes in the back of my head.

So, what do I need now - an Orthopedist, a lawyer and a rabbi - and in what order???

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Humering the Radius, Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

This may be my first-ever 1-handed blog entry as I fell backwards off a porch on Friday and broke my  left Radius - displaced it as well - and after 2 trips to the Emergency Room in Tzfat sandwiched between Shabbos Parsha Vayishlach - I have to say this isn't what I meant by road TRIP, Lord!

I came to Tzvat to have adventures with my friends Andy and Nili Alpern - but instead Andy became my schlepping, sitting, translating and do-it-yourself gurney-pusher ER pal and Nili became my shower-aide. NOT what we had planned!

 Israeli doctors opinion on issuing narcotic or at least interesting pain meds "to go" differ wildly with Jewish American Princesses from Woodland Hills. "Bite the bullet" is never a comforting phrase.

"Oh you should be just fine. You don't need anything stronger than Tylenol"  

"Excuse me doctor but do I look like someone who would break their own arm just for a Vicodin?"
"You look like an intelligent woman" he said, "Here, have a Traumadex." This after 40 hours of excruciating pain and precious little pain relief.

But, B"H, I'm among friends (who else but Virgo Nili get into the shower with me to help wash my hair and under my right arm?) and I'm getting a ride back to Jerusalem this afternoon ... I've always depended on the kindness of strangers. That's how I met Andy and Nili in2006 - and that's how strangers turn into friends and friends turn into family...thank G-d! Because who else but family would get into the shower with you and help you wash your aching, bruised-up and traumatized body?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Road Goes Ever On and On...

Bat Ayin - a beautiful, natural, organic, glowy-flowy enclave of the Eco-Torah hippie lifestyle located in the beautiful Gush area southeast of Jerusalem.

Staying in the home of Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum, who is the head of the Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin, an educational program for women and the author of "Women at the Crossroads,"  a woman's perspective on the weekly Torah portions. Her home is just as glowy-flowy and beautiful as one would expect of the woman who singlehandedly defined the "Bat Ayin Woman" look, lifestyle and (if I can be so bold to say) the actual nusach of the Orthodox "Natural Woman," in her own image and the image of her vision of the modern (as in modern-day, not in modern attitudes) Orthodox (but not Haredi) woman.

When I say "glowy/flowy" I'm NOT denigrating the look OR the lifestyle, believe me! The Bat Ayin woman dresses modestly and gloriously - long flowing skirts and dresses, many light layers of cotton, wool (in Winter - that is, if we ever HAVE a winter again) and natural fabrics - colorful, feminine, lovely, and 100% Kosher - i.e. you won't see a married woman here without her hair covered (in the Bat Ayin Style which looks best on women whose hair resembles Marge Simpson's conical "do" - and if you don't have a tower of hair to wrap up in a colorful shawl or tichel you can BUILD volume with more scarves!), you won't see a young lady here in pants, you won't see (thankfully) women in dark, thick polyester suits and cable-knit stockings on a day where temperatures top 100 degrees. Simply for having solved - in a creative, beautiful way - what I've been calling "The Frum Fashion Problem" - Chana Bracha deserves a medal. For having created an entire culture of learning, growth and positive reinforcement of women, she deserves much more.

Yesterday (although I arrived late) I got to visit the Bat Ayin OUTLET store and scored on some much-needed clothing (the prices were CRIMINALLY LOW, come here for the shopping if nothing else!) and then had a leisurely & delicious dinner (home-made chicken soup, wine and sauteed vegetables with meat/pea patties ... ummmm!) with my old friend Sara Talia Webb, who LITERALLY lives in a Hobbit-Hole in Bat Ayin - a very charming machsan (storage shed) built into a hillside which is only accessible by following a narrow rocky path down, down, down until you think you're about to hit the riverbed - and then: voila! Instant coziness created by Sara Talia's warm and welcoming, loving spirit. Such nachas! After dinner she took me to visit another old friend, Shaul Judelman and his new kallah Shayna Liebe (Ashley Greenspoon), who live out literally - LITERALLY - at the edge of nowhere. A perfect place for honeymooners to create their own nest!

So I'm off to explore for a short time, then the next stage of my road trip will begin ... who knows where I'll end up? (OK, I think I know, but you know ... YOU NEVER KNOW!)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
- Bilbo Baggins

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When in Doubt, Take a Road Trip

It's time to go on Tiyule, as we say in (broken) Hebrew.

Provoked beyond mere vexation at the interminable "Endless Summer, Part 3" weather and unable to wait anymore - "Ain le ode savlanut, b'claal!"   I'm on my way to raise up holy sparks from below and liberate Heaven's blessings from above. The only way I know how to do that is to GO SOMEWHERE.

Combining (not to be confused with "The Combina", but that's another subject) expediency with necessity, or work with pleasure, or practicality with impulsiveness - whatever the alchemical mixture was, it came to me in a flash - first stop: BAT AYIN, the beautiful, secluded sort-of-hippie very frum/Baali Tshuva-ish Torah enclave to which I've NEVER (can you believe it?) been but which has produced some of the most AMAZING, holy Yidden I've ever known and loved.

I've been invited to bring RADIO FREE NACHLAOT out to Bat Ayin to do interviews, perhaps broadcast a live class in progress, and basically soak up the holy eco-Torah vibes in hopes I can transmit all that awesome natural organic Torah goodness to our world-wide listening audience. I hope to do so. I also hope to find a hammock somewhere and simply ... sway. At least for a little while.

Where will I go after Bat Ayin? Where will I be for Shabbos? Don't know yet - I only know "I'm on the road to find out..."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why Should a Perfectly Good Blog Go Untended Just Because I'm So Damn Busy?

OK, so is it a crime to let a year and a half go by without writing on this blog? Has Facebook replaced blogging for me, am I totally absorbed with Radio Free Nachlaot to the exclusion of everything else, do I cringe a little at my own wide-eyed optimism and unwavering cheerfulness when I read through the history of this blog - begun when I first made Aliyah in the Spring of 2007, when my eyes could only see what was "Jerusalicious" about life in the Holy City, before some trauma and drama (3 robberies, one horrific 11-week marriage nightmare & subsequent divorce that took another 10 weeks - 9 weeks longer than it should have!!! - plus a year in exile from my neighborhood, illness, a dramatic plunge in my socio-economic status, the shocking and unexpected deaths of several friends, two hospitalizations, just to name a very FEW things that have happened along the way) took the wind out of my sails?

Well, screw all that. I want my Jerusalicous back!

Last night I had dinner with my old friend Estelleigh Franenberg, widow of my dear childhood pal Barry ("Uncle Barry") Franenberg, who is visiting the Holy Land for the very first time. We were so delighted to spend time with each other even though it's been many years since we were together in the flesh, so to speak. Our children are grown, our husbands (who were best friends from high school until their deaths, less than a year apart - 1999 and 2000) gone, but as I said to Estelleigh as we were hugging and squealing like schoolgirls: We're not old, we're simply deliciously ripe mature women who have been through hell and come out the other side - we're soul survivors!

Yeah, that's right. Soul Survivors - our souls have endured a lot of crap but we don't smell any worse for wear - in fact, we're downright FRAGRANT with the scent of triumph - triumph over loss, grief, fear, uncertainty, and all the other things that come crashing down upon one's head when your spouse dies leaving you holding the bag - or in our mutual cases, leaving behind children who need shoes, food, a roof over their head, education, braces, and all the other "normal" things one wants to bestow upon one's offspring for their own good.

We didn't crawl into the corner and die ourselves, oh no we didn't. Last night we celebrated as two fabulous friends, women of great accomplishment and strength, and looking into each other's eyes we saw reflected there the image of our own innate deliciousness - yes, it was a very JERUSALICOUS-worthy get-together, one I will treasure for years to come.

Give Thanks and Praise to the Lord and it WILL be alright! It just might take a little longer than you'd prefer, that's all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Weeping for Tammuz


Was it my window, open to the night
Inviting dark honeysuckled air, giving breath to my dreams
That made him think he could simply
And bend his golden head
To kiss my sleeping eyes awake?

I only saw him for a moment (if I really saw him at all):
Golden green shimmering silver goodbye...
But I heard him sigh
And with his kiss my eyes were open to the night
And I took flight

And I saw
Myself, flying, east, into the sun
Hovering wingless over city streets
And I saw lovers
Kissing on sidewalks
Pressed up against rain-slicked doorways
Inhaling each others souls.
And, passing by an open window,
I saw myself
Weeping for Tammuz.

And I turned myself,
And I saw
A blind man, feeling for fruit in the open air marketplace.
Piece by piece, slow open fingers
Lingering to read the mango's sunrise color
By the smoothness of her skin,
Feather-light touches, alive with sympathy
To every demure orange-peel pucker, every jaunty ribbed find.
Empty palms restless, seeking the weight of ripeness
Cupping each perfect pear, just-so,
So easily bruised, yielding its flesh to the barest pressure of an insistent thumb:
And in the blank reflection of his empty-eyed glasses
I saw myself
Weeping for Tammuz.

And I turned myself
And I wanted to go home, back to my blanket sleep,
Return to the carefully crafted contrite comfort
Of a cool and quiet bed for one:
Uninterrupted by the abruptness of love,
Where the sounds of my own heart
Are safely kept muffled behind locked doors,
By vigilante guards with shoot-to-kill orders:
Locked and loaded, patiently patrolling the hallways of my soul, watching for
Any wrong motives
Any wrong moves
Any twitch of desire
Any signs of life...

O, you who woke me, put me back to sleep!
Help me forget kisses, the smell of fruit,
Hands that see better than eyes!
I tried to fly, back to my own sleeping self-
But the weight of my tears kept me earth-bound:
I cried out, voiceless, to the numbing deafness of the night:
Wailing, in the dust upon the ground
Weeping for Tammuz.

(C) 2000 Lorelai Kude All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Afghans Stone Women Protesting Sex Law

KABUL (April 15) -- A group of some 1,000 Afghans swarmed a demonstration of 300 women protesting against a new conservative marriage law on Wednesday. The women were pelted with small stones as police struggled to keep the two groups apart.
The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse — a clause that critics say legalizes marital rape. It also regulates when and for what reasons a wife may leave her home alone.
Women's rights activists scheduled a protest Wednesday attended by mostly young women. But the group was swamped by counter-protesters — both men and women — who shouted down the women's chants.
Some picked up gravel and stones and threw them at the women, while others shouted "Death to the slaves of the Christians!" Female police held hands around the group to create a protective barrier.
The government of President Hamid Karzai has said the Shiite family law is being reviewed by the Justice Department and will not be implemented in its current form. Governments and rights groups around the world have condemned the legislation, and President Barack Obama has labeled it "abhorrent."
Though the law would apply only to the country's Shiites — 10 to 20 percent of Afghanistan's 30 million people — it has sparked an uproar by activists who say it marks a return to Taliban-style oppression. The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, required women to wear all-covering burqas and banned them from leaving home without a male relative.
Shiite backers of the law say that foreigners are meddling in private Afghan affairs, and Wednesday's demonstrations brought some of the emotions surrounding the debate over the law to the surface.
"You are a dog! You are not a Shiite woman!" one man shouted to a young woman in a headscarf holding aloft a banner that said "We don't want Taliban law." The woman did not shout back at the man, but told him: "This is my land and my people."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nasrallah to Ahmadinejad - "If Loving You is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right!"

By far the cutest couple since Satan and Sadaam Hussain hooked up in The South Park Movie! Insider reports indicate that during their recent meeting, Iranian President Ahmadinejad serenaded Hezbollah leader Nasrallah with a heartfelt rendition of the classic tune, "If Loving You is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right!" We were unable to verify whether Ahmadinejad chose the Luther Ingram version or perhaps the Barbara Mandrell version. In either instance, the tears flowed as the lovers embraced, no longer ashamed to bear witness to the love that dare not speak its name!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Counting The (H)Omer, the Simpsons Way!

Counting the Omer has never been more fun! OK, there are lots of other, shall we say, more overtly spiritual ways to count the Omer (most notably Rabbi Simon Jacobson's "Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer" which I've used for the last 4 years) but if you want some semblance of fun and the occasional smile and laugh to intrude into your spiritual life, it doesn't get better than this. CLICK HERE to go to the Homer Omer Calendar, and don't forget during the first week of the (H)Omer, doughnuts are chametz - hands off!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The End isn't Near, It's HERE

It's obvious to anyone with eyes to see on the ground here in Jerusalem that THIS IS IT. We're in it, Geula is upon us and we should lift up our eyes because our redemption is near.
Is the shit hitting the proverbial fan in your life? In the lives of people around you? Has "crisis" become a commonplace and constant feature in your daily existence? As on Earth, so in Heaven - and conversely, even more so.
So how does this affect daily life in the Holy City, the place we call Jerusalem, Israel? We who dwell here look at each other with knowing eyes. You who dwell without can only see us on TV, read our blogs, listen to uninformed talking heads discuss us in the press. You can't see anything, and you know less than nothing. We, however, are going into this with Eyes Wide Open on one hand, and Eyes Shut Tight on the other. For you see, there's always Another Hand...especially here, especially now.
Every soul that has ever been born before is rushing back for the Final Act, we're all here and we're all now and the stage is set...
(enter Bugs Bunny with a cane, in top hat and tails)
Overture! Hit the Lights!
This is It! The Night of Nights!
No more rehearsing, rehearsing of parts ... we know every part by heart!
And oh what heights we'll hit -
On with the Show! This is IT!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pakistan & Somalia Cave to Islamic Terrorists Demand for Sharia Law - YOU'RE NEXT, EUROPE

Why is no one talking about the fact that within the last 10 days, the governments of two countries have succumbed to blackmail by terrorists and surrendered entire regions of their own lands to he rule of Islamic Fundamentalist Sharia Law.

On February 18th, CNN reported:
government officials announced Monday an agreement with the Taliban to allow strict Islamic law, or sharia, to be implemented in parts of North West Frontier Province. It marks a major concession by the Pakistani government in its attempt to hold off Taliban militants who have terrorized the region with beheadings, kidnappings, and the destruction of girls' schools...Sharia is defined as Islamic law but is interpreted with wide differences depending on the various sects of both Sunni and Shia Islam. So far, the Pakistani Taliban's interpretation of sharia has included banning girls from school, forcing women inside and outlawing forms of entertainment.

Today, CNN reports: Somali President Sharif Sheikh Hassan said Saturday he will give in to a rebel demand that he impose Islamic law, or Sharia, in the African country — an effort to halt fighting between Somali forces and Islamic insurgents. However, Hassan told a news conference he won’t agree to a strict interpretation of the law, which forbids girls from attending school, requires veils for women and beards for men, and bans music and television.

Meanwhile, on February 9th, the Daily Express reported that Sharia laws are being applied in secret in Muslim communities throughout Great Britain, "in clear defiance of the country's legal system." The Daily Express reports:

Islamic scholars sit in mosques, converted living rooms and even a former pub to issue fatwas, or rulings, and adds that they have decided thousands of cases over the last 25 years.

This fresh development assumes significance in the wake of the condemnation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, statement calling for an “accommodation” of some Islamic legal codes within the British legal system.

Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists have effectively waged war for their value system and way of "life" (if you call living under Sharia law a life) from within and from without - via war, terrorism, kidnapping, rape, violence, etc. to force governments to bow to their will, and from within by infiltrating communities and demanding the right to set up their own court systems within the sovernity of other countries - the equivalent in the U.S. of a state like Texas being allowed to completely disregard Federal law in favor of their own home-grown version of justice, but still consider themselves a part of the United States.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Boycott Sony Ericsson until they demand Dubai grants a visa to Israeli tennis player!

While the World Tennis Association (WTA) caves to Arab pressure and allows the Sony Ericcson Tour to continue to be played in Dubai, even after the UAE violated the WTA's written policy by denying a visa to Israeli tennis player Shaharr Peer, there is still something to be done.

BOYCOTT SONY ERICSSON and call their Investor Relations / PR people and tell them why!
Follow the money. Without Sony Ericsson's sponsorship dollars, there IS no tennis tour. Putting pressure on the UAE is useless, and the WTA itself has already proved to have neither morals nor balls (no pun intended).

Sony Ericsson Global Communications and PR
Aldo Liguori (London) +44 20 8762 5860
Merran Wrigley (London) +44 20 8762 5862
Simone Bresi-Ando (London) +44 20 8762 5863


North America Corporate Communications
Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications Inc.
7001 Development Drive
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709 USA
Telephone: 919/472-1400 (EST time zone)

Drew Crowell
GolinHarris for Sony Ericsson

Liz Edelbrock
GolinHarris for Sony Ericsson

Reference the following story from CNN:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates
-- The United Arab Emirates has refused to grant a visa to a female Israeli tennis player, preventing her from competing in the Sony Ericsson World Tennis Association Tour in Dubai, the WTA said in a statement Sunday.

The move runs counter to WTA policy, which says no player should be barred from competing in a tournament for which she has qualified.

"We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) denying Shahar Peer a visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships," said Larry Scott, chairman and chief executive of the tour.

"Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right.

"Following various consultations, the Tour has decided to allow the tournament to continue to be played this week, pending further review by the Tour's Board of Directors.

"Ms. Peer and her family are obviously extremely upset and disappointed by the decision of the UAE and its impact on her personally and professionally, and the Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer, and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament," Scott said.

"The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pig Candy

A Google search will yield 3,980,000 results for the phrase "Pig Candy."

This should be alarming to anyone...and yet!

What's next, candied fetal piglets?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Krembo May Save Israeli Politics After All!

A treat for every voter

Twenty-one-year-old Amotz Eyal launches campaign intended to increase voter turnout on Election Day
Daniel Edelson

As polls predict a grim turnout for Israel's Election Day and forecasters announce stormy weather is brewing, many politicians urge the public to get out of the house and vote. But one ex-soldier believes words are not enough, and he is offering additional incentive. Amotz Eyal, a 21-year old from Psagot, has launched a campaign to bolster the voter turnout all over the country, together with the Yehiam Association for values and love of Israel.

The campaign includes a half-a-million text messages that will be sent to citizens calling on them to vote, as well as hundreds of billboards to the same effect and transportation to ballot boxes.

Also, in an unprecedented move, Eyal has enlisted 30 volunteers to travel from city to city and hand each voter a Krembo: An original Israeli treat made of a biscuit covered in cream and a thin layer of chocolate.
Eyal stressed the campaign was non-political. "It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum you are on, a low voter turnout should scare you," he told Ynet.

"A government chosen by just part of the people is an illegitimate government… People need to understand the importance of voting, so we've decided to give them a symbolic treat. A person who gets a Krembo after putting his ballot in will understand that he has done a good, useful, and important deed."

Eyal said he realizes the treat will not be the sole reason people leave their homes to vote, but he believes it may persuade doubters as to the importance of voting.

"We have the power to influence not just the current elections but also future ones. A person who has performed his democratic right is worthy of respect, especially these days, it's not a trivial matter," he said.

Social activism has been Eyal's pursuit since his release from the army eight months ago. Upon returning his equipment in Tel Hashomer's Induction Base, he embarked on a march all the way to the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem in order to hand him a letter decrying corruption among politicians.

"I care a great deal about what happens in this country and I try to get involved and influence everything I can," he said. When asked why other youths aren't as gung-ho on social activism as he is he said it wasn't due to apathy, but fear.

"These things are important to 21-year olds as well," Eyal said. "I know a lot of people who want to help but are afraid to launch big and complicated projects. I have no fear, and they should stop being afraid and start doing."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tsafrir Ronen - baruch dayan emet

Today I found out my dear friend, colleague and eternal fighter for the Land of Israel, Tsafrir Ronen, had died of a heart attack during Shabbat. He was 53 and leaves behind his beloved wife Judy and three beautiful daughters.
Tsafrir was incredibly special. He's "appeared" on this very blog several times, and has been an important friend to me since making Aliyah. We worked together extensively this spring and summer on the Israel World Television project, and I was expecting him at my wedding this coming Wednesday here in Jerusalem.

No one was a more passionate defender of the Jewish People's right to the Land of Israel. I feel like Tsafrir is in Heaven arguing with HaShem right now and demanding He save His people and His land immediatly.

Here is a report from "Writing the Wrong" -

Like the light that continues to travel from a star that has died - long after it has gone. We must continue in this light.
We shall see this through - with a sense of deep loss - and carry on with the courage that Tsafrir had.

This evening - after Shabbat - a message came through that Israel and the Jewish people have lost a hero - Tsafrir Ronen- a moshavnik from the north. He was an unusual man - fiery in his defense of Israel, had made documentaries about our history and rights to the land and was working to create a TV channel directly from here in order to tell the Jewish narrative to the world. . Tsafrir was unique- a secular Israeli in his 50s -with a completely traditional attitude towards Eretz Yisrael as he always called the Land. He knew where each of the tribes had lived, the Biblical name of each city and he cherished the dream of continuity in the future because he knew from where we had come.

Tsafrir was knowledgeable in the history of the region and the promise of less than 90 years ago by the League of Nations which committed to the re-creation of a viable Jewish homeland including what is today Jordan and Palestine. It pained him to see the continuous whittling down of even the western territory - that which is called 'Palestine' and comprises only 22% of the original promise - in an effort to appease others - and the ongoing efforts in the interest of a fictitious 'peace process'.

During Sharon's 2005 'expulsion' of Gush Katif and 4 northern communities in Samaria, one of the latter in this catastrophe was Homesh and Tsafrir was involved in Homesh First - a return to that place -as a start. He also traveled to Hevron frequently to stand with those who live there. This was a long trip each time from his home up north but he did what he thought was right for the country. Surely the recent forced expulsion of Jewish families from Bet HaShalom in Hevron and the policies of some Israeli governments played a part in undermining his health; he was so completely invested in preserving the integrity of Israel.

During some conferences where Tsafrir was among the speakers, others referred to their notes; Tsafrir spoke extemporaneously - from his heart - impassioned by his deep love for Eretz Yisrael and how this is a Land to be cherished. His spirit and actions transcended all of politics.

Today, Chanukah - a holiday that commemorates heroism of our people - we have lost a modern day hero. We are in a state of shock and grief; our response must be to continue his work. Our deepest condolences to his wife, children, and the other members of his family.

Jerusalem, Israel

Doris Wise Montrose, President and Founder
All Board Members
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors

Eli E. Hertz, President
Myths and Facts, Inc.

Joel Blasberg, Filmmaker
Withdrawal From Gaza

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

b'ezrat HaShem ... Here Comes The Rain!

Israeli farmers perform rain ritual

December 22, 2008

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli farmers re-created a ritual described by a 16th century Jewish scholar in the hopes of bringing rain.

The farmers from the Upper Galilee, led by Rabbi Eliyahu Biton, on Sunday encircled the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai located on Mount Meron while shaking the Four Species that are traditionally used on Sukkot, the daily Ha'aretz reported.

Yosef Karo, a 16th century religious scholar, composed the special prayer for rain. According to Karo's book "Maggid Mesharim," much rain fell after Karo and his students completed the ritual.

Israel is experiencing an exceptionally dry winter this year, with rainfall in most areas at about 40 percent of normal.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chanukkah in the Shuk

Erev Chanukkah in Mahanae Yehuda shuk, the giant menorah being prepared to light up the night for all. You won't see a Christmas tree here nor will you hear the jingle-jangle of bells, reindeer whinnying nor yuletide caroles being sung by a choir - although you may see folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My First Vote as an Israeli Citizen

"Democracy in Action" - at least that's what it looked like in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, where I exercised my civic duty by casting my first-ever ballot as an Israeli Citizen. The Jerusalem Mayoral race has been far more pressing than the recent US Presidential Elections, and, sticking with that analogy, it looks like my boy Nir Barkat will in fact be the next Mayor of the Holy City. Nir is a successful businessman who understands running the municipality of the world's most important city is no job for criminals or saints...just a "ben-oni" with a brain, some common sense and the wherewithal to get the job done. I loved the voting experience itself, which was preceeded by campaigners lining the street leading up to the school where the polling place was located - something that is actually illegal in the U.S. Once inside I was welcomed into a little room (pictured) where I was scrutinized by a nice mix of secular and religious poll workers, who gave me my ballot envelopes and sent me behind the secret "Voting Modesty Curtain" (pictured) where I put the pieces of paper into the colored envelopes (white into white, yellow into yellow). Can I just say Thank G_d I can read enough Hebrew to know for whom I am voting!!! Actually quite a satisfying experience.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan - Slither, Sting or Soar!

Happy Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan - although "happy" isn't usually an adjective associated with either the Hebrew month of "Mar" Cheshvan ("Mar" meaning "bitter") or Scorpio (Akrav), not typically perceived as a "happy" sign. Intense, yes. Powerful, yes. Transformative, yes. Painful? Often!
The gift of Cheshvan is the gift of intensity and the accompanying insights one obtains when turning that intensity within to discover the depths of one's own soul. Scorpio has three animal symbols usually associated with it - the Gray Lizard (the one who slithers), the Scorpion (the one who stings) and the Great Eagle (the one who soars). By elevating Scorpio's propensity to investigate the darkest and wettest of places within one's own psyche (or that of others), Cheshvan's energy can be used to find the nuggets of beauty, the sparks of holiness, and elevate them from beneath the mud and slime to the most exalted heights. Don't be satisfied with slithering through the mud, nor with stinging others with defensive poisons - transform that powerful energy into the eagle-like ability to soar and transcend even the uttermost depths of the darkest nights of your soul.

The following overview of Cheshvan is from the Gal Einai Institute, a United States non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating and implementing the inner wisdom of the Torah--Kabbalah and Chassidut--as taken from the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

The Month of Cheshvan According to The Book of Formation (Sefer Yetzirah)

Each month of the Jewish year has a corresponding color, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling organ/limb of the body.

Cheshvan (or Mar-Cheshvan) is the eighth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar.

In the Bible, Cheshvan is called chodesh bul, from the word mabul, "the flood." The flood began on the 17th of Cheshvan, and ended the following year on the 27th of Cheshvan. The following day, the 28th of Cheshvan, Noah brought his sacrifice to G-d and G-d swore never again to bring a flood upon the earth to destroy all mankind, and then revealed the sign of His covenant with the world, the rainbow.

Cheshvan is the only month which has no holidays or special mitzvot. We are taught that it is "reserved" for the time of Mashiach, who will inaugurate the third Temple in Cheshvan.

In Hebrew:

Color: Violet

Letter: nun

Nun is considered to be the letter of Mashiach, as is said (with reference to Mashiach): "before the sun, is his name Ye-non [from nun]" (Psalms 72:17). As a verb-root, nun means "to reign." As a noun, it means "the heir to the throne" (from nin). The eighth month is the month of Mashiach, for eight signifies the eternal revelation of the supernatural (the consummate state of rectified nature being the secret of the number seven). Whereas the "harp" of this world possesses seven strings, the harp of Mashiach possesses eight strings. Just as 8 transcends 7, so does 50 (the numerical value of nun) transcend 49, 7 squared. In this world, the nun is bent over, confined by the boundaries of nature. With the coming of Mashiach, the nun "straightens out" (the shape of the final nun), breaks through the boundaries of nature, and descends "below the line" into the subterranean realms of reality in order to reveal there G-d's all-encompassing Infinite light.

Mazal: Akrav (Scorpio - Scorpion)

Our sages teach us that the scorpion is the most deadly member of the general category of poisonous creatures whose archetypal figure is the primordial snake of Eden. The word akrav derives from the word akev, "heel," as is said: "and you [the snake] shall bite him [man] at the heel" (Genesis 3:15). Thus the akrav symbolizes the consummate "bite" of the snake at the heel of man. While in general, the poison of the snake is "hot," the poison of the scorpion is "cold." The Mashiach is the one and only soul who can overcome, kill, and ultimately revive the primordial snake (in order to convert it to good). (The soul of Mashiach and his continuous state of consciousness manifest the ultimate rectification of "heat," "burning" solely in his love for G-d and Israel, as well as that of "cold"-absolutely "cold" to the false vanities of this world.) This is the secret of the numerical equation: Mashiach (358) = snake (nachash). Akrav (372) = Mashiach (nachash) plus David (= 14; nun is the 14th letter of the alef-beit). The root-letters of Cheshvan permute to spell nachash (in Cheshvan the nun is "straightened out;" in nachash it is "bent over").

Tribe: Menasheh

Menasheh is the firstborn of Joseph. Deriving from the word "to forget" (literally "to leap, up and away"), Menasheh implies the power of the tzadik (Joseph) to make us forget the hardships, trials and tribulations of this world, with the coming of Mashiach. By the power and sense of Menasheh, all of the pain of this world will transform and metamorphose into the pleasure of the Messianic era. The name Menasheh permutes to spell neshamah, "soul." Menasheh represents the sense to reveal the Divine soul in Israel. In the Bible, Moses is called Menasheh, for Menasheh is Moshe (Moses) with an additional nun (the letter of Cheshvan). Of Moses is said: "he is the first redeemer and he is the final redeemer" (See Shemot Rabbah 4:2; Zohar 1:253a; Sha'ar HaPesukim, Vayechi; Torah Or, beginning of Mishpatim). In his first lifetime (as "the first redeemer") he did not achieve the "50th gate of understanding" (the understanding of G-d Himself, as it were, and His deepest intention in the creation of the universe). When he returns as Mashiach, he will be given forever the "50th gate," the nun of Mashiach, the secret of Menasheh (Moshe-nun. In the Zohar we are taught that when Moses first passed from this world he received the "50th gate" and was "buried" in the Mishnah, another permutation of Menasheh, Moshe-nun. Through the study of Mishnah (in the time of exile) we reveal the neshamah of Israel and thereby merit the redemption of Moshe-Mashiach and the revelation for all on earth of the "50th gate."

Sense: smell

The sense of smell is the most spiritual of all senses. The Hebrew word for "smell," rei'ach, is cognate to that for "spirit" (ruach). Our sages teach us that smell is the one and only sense that "the soul enjoys and not the body." "Soul" (neshamah) is a permutation of Menasheh, as mentioned above. The sense of smell is the only sense (of the five common senses) that did not participate, and thereby was not blemished or polluted, in the primordial sin of man in the Garden of Eden. It is the sense which saved the Jewish people in the time of Mordechai and Esther, who are called Mor veHadas ("myrrh and myrtle," the two primary sources of fragrance). It is explicitly stated that the sense of Mashiach is the sense of smell. "And he shall smell in the awe of G-d"--"he shall judge by smell" (rather than by sight or hearing. Isaiah 11:3; Sanhedrin 93b). By his sense of smell (his ruach hakodesh, "holy spirit") the Mashiach will know how to connect each Jewish soul to its Divine root, and thereby identify its tribe (branch) in Israel.

Controller: intestines

The word for intestines (dakin) derives from the word "minute" (dakah) or "particle" (dak). It implies the power to dissect into fine, refined parts. In the process of preparing the incense for the Temple (the consummate expression of the sense of smell in the Temple service), one would say (over and over), "grind well, grind well" (hadek heitev, heiteiv hadek: hadeik from dak). All of the sacrifices in the Temple service are meant to produce a "satisfying aroma" (rei'ach nichoach) and please the Divine sense of smell, which implies the Divine "satisfaction" with the service of His children Israel in particular and with His creation in general. Our sages interpret the phrase rei'ach nichoach as "I am satisfied (nachat ruach), for I have spoken and My will has been fulfilled." This Divine satisfaction with man and creation was first expressed on the 28th of Cheshvan, when Noah offered his sacrifice to G-d. Due to His satisfaction, G-d swore to Noah never again to destroy the world by flood. As is expressed explicitly in laws of the Torah, it is the fats of the intestines that when offered on the altar produce the "satisfying" aroma for G-d. For this reason the intestines are seen to control the sense of smell.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

North American Jewish Database Created by Christians Targeting Jews for Aliyah - or Targeting Jews for "Removal?"

Tonight the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem hosted "Israeli Night," capping off their annual "Feast of Tabernacles" celebration which brought nearly 10,000 Christians from around the world to Jerusalem. Malcom Hedding (pictured), ICEJ's Executive Director, on stage with former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Ayalon( pictured), introduced a mysterious pot-bellied Russian man (not pictured, as - unbelievably! - I didn't have my camera with me!), who who presented Mr. Ayalon (now co-chairman of Nefesh b'Nefesh, which just replaced the Jewish Agency as the sole provider of Aliyah in North America) with a database said to contain "the names, addresses and phone numbers of every single Jew in North America." The database was being presented to Mr. Ayalon ostensibly because of his role with Nefesh b'Nefesh, and the idea of happy Christian telemarketers phoning Jews all over America after dinner every evening offering them free one-way tickets to Israel sent the audience of thousands of already G_d-giddy Christians into fits of cheering, clapping and hallaluyah-ing. I the only one here who thinks that Christians who have a list of every Jew in North America can be scary, even sinister? Christians who want to "help Jews make Aliyah" can quickly turn into expulsionists. Jurgen Buhler, the ICEJ's International Director, strutted around the stage of tonight's event, quoting from the Book of Ruth and warning Israelis that, just as Ruth said to Naomi "Wherever you go I shall go, Your people shall be my people, your G_d shall be my G_d," we Jews "won't be able to get rid of us (Christians)." They're sticking to us - listen chevre, we've been warned!
Wow, the Christians are going to follow us everywhere. Why don't we take them to Yeshiva? Many have such a deep and sincere love of Israel and the Jewish People, but they don't know Torah and they worship idols. So - yesh ba'aya, there's a problem.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kaparh, Chickens, Coins and pre-Yom Kippur Preparations

Feathers flew and brachot blew by all day in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda Shuk, where pre-Yom Kippur "Kaparah" was being perfomed by a variety of vendors. One might swing a chicken overhead while reading the prayers (pictured) or one might give money to a local tzaddick who will hold it over your head while praying blessings down upon you. Either way, it's all part of the preparations for the most intense day of the year - Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow night at sundown. We're loading up on carbs, giving tzadaka ("charity") to anyone who asks, hydrating like mad, learning special Torah, going to the mikvah, and generally running around like...a chicken with its head cut off!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Taliban Assasins Murder Ranking Afghan Policewoman

Just in case you forgot yet one more important reason we hate the Taliban -The Associated Press reports the following:

Two Taliban assassins on a motorbike shot and killed a senior policewoman as she left for work in Afghanistan's largest southern city Sunday and gravely wounded her son.
Malalai Kakar, 41, who led Kandahar city's department of crimes against women, was leaving home Sunday when she was killed, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor. Her 18-year-old son was wounded, he said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility.
Militants frequently attack projects, schools and businesses run by women.
The hard-line Taliban regime, which was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, did not allow women outside the home without a male escort.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the assassination, as did the European Union, which said it was "appalled by the brutal targeting" of Kakar.
"Any murder of a police officer is to be condemned, but the killing of a female officer whose service was not only to her country, but to Afghan women, to whom Ms. Kakar served as an example, is particularly abhorrent," the EU said in a statement.

May I just remind y'all that Islamic Fundamentalists - exemplified by the Taliban - have one and only one goal - ISLAMIC WORLD DOMINATION. Which means cliterectomies, burkas and not stepping outside one's home without a male relative escort/driver for all women. So, why exactly would you want to vote in the next American Presidental election for anyone who isn't willing to drive these animals back into the holes from which they crawled when we weren't looking?

You Say Goodbye, I Say...Hello!

I was lucky enough to get to see a once-in-a-lifetime event - Paul McCartney in Tel Aviv - with my (originally) British friend YERUSHALIMEY. As I have NO WORDS, his will more than suffice...Yerushalimey's review of the concert is, as follows....

It's difficult to decide where - or when - to begin an account of Sir Paul McCartney's "Friendship First" concert last night in Tel Aviv. I could describe the closest train station, a couple of hours before the event where, besides the steady flow of people of all ages wearing Beatles T-shirts there were about 20 women standing in line outside the shirutim (public toilets), presumably because they didn't expect to be able to relieve themselves comfortably at the Hayarkon Park venue. (There were, in turned out, rows of Portapotties lined up near the park's shirutim.) Or I could review the death threats from Muslim clerics; or the comments in The Guardian arguing that it is not hypocritical for someone to demand that McCartney boycott Israel yet, at the same time, enjoy Israeli cell phone and computer technology... Although I saw a security guard single out a lone male for what seemed to be careful questioning, for the most part the people at the gates seemed to be at least as intent on preventing large bottles of water from being brought in as detecting weapons. (The most lax security I've ever seen in Israel was at a reggae concert: at music events I suppose the people who don't belong are easily spotted.) I saw no weapons within the fabric wall. That's understandable, but noteworthy because so many people routinely carry guns in public in Israel.
Two hours before the show was scheduled to start, the area in front of the stage was filled. We spread our blanket a couple of hundred yards back and waited. There was a gigantic vertical screen on either side of the stage and the crowd became a little more energized when pictures form Paul's history rolled down them. No Israeli songs came over the sound system, just British and American music (and one Jimmy Cliff).
Ten minutes after the eight o'clock scheduled start, Paul began with a rousing "Hello Goodbye." Obvious opening choice, but especially canny because the audience couldn't resist joining in with the Hey La, Hey Hey Lo Ah.... Then came "Jet." This pair of songs was a taste of what was to come: 32 songs (if I counted correctly), the vast majority of which were Beatle songs, and only a handful from after 1975...
"Shalom, Tel Aviv!" Paul greeted the audience, who seemed delighted when he added, "Shana Tova!" It was the week before Rosh Hashana: maybe that was why there were so few men with yarmulkes visible - with the notable exception of the Chabad people outside, encouraging concert-goers to don tefilin...
"Baby You Can Drive My Car" was next, with an automobile sequence rolling behind him on the stage's rear wall.I confess I don't know what the next song was: I could blame the poor scrawl in my notebook, but truthfully I didn't recognize it...Next Paul addressed the audience in Hebrew again: "Zeh echad hayashanim." ("This is one of the oldies.) And it was! "All My Loving." The crowd loved it.
Next was "Flaming Pie," followed by "Let Me Roll It." This was, therefore, the second of four tracks - including the title song - from Band on the Run. Later, when he sang "Mrs Vanderbilt" the audience sang along, "Ho, hey ho!" as though we were in a jungle....
The audience listened attentively to his next number, especially since he introduced it, in Hebrew, dedicating it "L'Linda." It was a very moving "My Love." He followed it with another from his post-Beatle songbook ("Someone's knocking at the door"); then came "Long and Winding Road." He played "Dance Tonight" (from 2007's Memory Almost Full), which, apart from "Flaming Pie," I think were the only songs from after 1975! (But you can check the internet...)
Paul then talked briefly about how he and George - this was before they were Beatles - used to sit sometimes and play classical pieces on guitar. He demonstrated a piece of Bach's they used to play, and then showed how he stole a phrase and turned it into...."Blackbird"!
During one of his anecdotal reminiscences, one of Paul's spontaneous asides probably baffled the native Israelis in the audience. "A long time ago," he began, and then interrupted himself with "- this wasn't in Bethlehem." I figure he wasn't referring to his trip to the Church of the Nativity; instead he was alluding to the '50s song that began "Long time ago in Bethlehem" about Mary's Boy Child... This seemed to be the only Christian reference in the evening. (He has stated that the mother Mary in "Let It Be" was actually his own mother, Mary.) But he did make a point of saying "Ramadan Karim" twice during the evening, the second time almost asking us to be fair. (Sorry, I didn't catch his exact words.)
I watched virtually all of the concert on one of the screens. I think it was during "Let It Be" that I turned around to see the lights of a thousand cellphones held up instead of candles. At one point I went forward and stood on my toes and craned my neck and peeked and finally caught a glimpse of the tiny figure in a pink shirt, so I can say I actually saw Paul with my naked eye, albeit from a couple hundred yards away. During the show he addressed the people he could see outside in the park proper. I turned to see what he saw: thousands of people who didn't pay and who, sitting or standing on a hill, probably had a less obstructed view of the stage than many of the paying audience. He had nothing to gain by greeting them. Paul was playing for the people - not simply for the money."I'll Follow the Sun," "Mrs Vanderbilt," "Here, There and Everywhere." After "Eleanor Rigby" (with keyboard synthesized violins), Paul addressed us in Hebrew again" "Hashir hazeh l'George." And he played "Something" - on the ukelele! The band joined in after the middle eight, so it ended up sounding quite like the album version, with thousands of people singing along....Next he announced, "This is for John." I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the audience surprised - and delighted - to hear "A Day in the Life." It's just not something you'd expect at a concert (unless Phish decided to perform "Sgt. Pepper!). It was amusing to watch one of the band members on the big screen panting just before the "Woke up, fell out of bed" segment. Without the London Symphony Orchestra present, there needed to be a new ending - it was Paul singing "Give Peace a Chance." Clearly, Paul's tribute to John was, as Lennon himself would probably have wanted, a powerful political and very human declaration. Before the show I'd lamented that it's too bad that no one but Lennon could really sing the lead vocal. So I was happily impressed that Paul led about fifty-thousand Israelis in an indisputably sincere rendition of the plea for peace. I confess I felt smug, convinced that nowhere else in the Middle East could this anthem be sung by so many people. (Oddly, for me, this was not the most moving experience of the melody: the first time I heard "Oseh Shalom bimromav, etc." sung to "Give Peace a Chance," [at Kol Rina, in Jerusalem] tears came to my eyes: All we are saying...O-oseh shalom...)
"Band on the Run," "Back in the USSR" (with amusing old films of Soviet dancing in the background). Then "I Got a Feeling" with an extra hard biting extra ending...There were fireworks for "Live and Let Die." Rockets shooting up, mostly white, with some glowing red balls. Not the most expensive or elaborate pyrotechnics, but especially effective because they were unanticipated and because they emphasized the sudden violence of the title. I took it as a kind of affirmation. "Live! and (if those crazies want to go around killing each other) Let Die...""Let it Be" - more inspiration, instruction for the weary - but not, like Olmert and his gang, hopeless - Israeli. And "Hey, Jude!" Paul playfully acknowledged different sections of the audience, singing "Na, Na, Na, Nanananah". "Rak Hanashim!" (Only the women!) he called, hand on hip, mincing across the stage...He'd performed for two hours.
Now the end of the show approached. The first, faux end. Stage empty, screens blank for a minute, while they took a quick break. First encore? What would it be?"Lady Madonna." Then "Get Back." he chatted with the audience again, asked if they weren't real old rock and rollers, before he slammed into "I Saw Her Standing There." What was left? Of course: "Yesterday."He bid the audience goodbye again. Introrduced the musicians. Thanked everyone. Declared that the crew was the best in the world. (Maybe they were; but someone I was with said that the sound was off. I didn't know. I couldn't tell. I didn't care.)"Shana Tova! Ramadan Karim!"The final encore: "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (Reprise: "We're sorry but it's time to go...") And finally, "The End."Wow! From "Hello, Goodbye" to "The End." Great set. Great show.
Paul McCartney is an amazingly talented composer and performer. It was a privilege to see him live in concert. He clearly is genuinely devoted to peace and love. His tribute to Linda was an act of personal courage, exposing himself as a vulnerable human. His tributes to George and John were similarly mentschlich. The fact that he ignored threats and criticism from the Blue Meanies, exposing himself to the possibility of physical danger and censure from some of the media, show him to be a seeker of justice.Thank you, Paul.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forget Bomb Shelters, Pass the Bottle Please!

From the "Better Living Through Science" Department - at last, one of my many (unfairly categorized as "wacko") theories has been scientifically proven. I've been saying for years that red wine has magical properties, and now science has proven that red wine protects humans from the effect of radiation!
So go ahead Iran, keep developing the bomb. I'm just going to sit here on my porch in Jerusalem sipping (kosher) red wine and sticking my tongue out at you in your general direction (hey, what direction is Iran from here?)

Reuters reports:
A natural antioxidant commonly found in red wine and fruit may protect against radiation exposure, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.
Tests in mice showed that resveratrol, when altered using a compound called acetyl, could prevent some of the damage caused by radiation, the researchers told the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in Boston.
Drugs made that way might be used in a large-scale radiological or nuclear emergency, said Dr. Joel Greenberger, a radiation oncologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
"Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure," he added. "Our goal is to develop treatments for the general population that are effective and non-toxic," Greenberger said in a statement.
"Small molecules which can be easily stored, transported and administered are optimal for this, and so far acetylated resveratrol fits these requirements well."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

She's Got A Ticket To Ride...

I wouldn't say that spending 490 NIS on a standing room only ticket (no actual seat) to see Paul McCartney in Tel Aviv is a waste of money. I'd say that the fact that Isra-Card graciously divides the amount into 3 equal payments over 3 months is what turns a waste of money into a cultural and karmic necessity. Even if this is my entire entertainment budget for the next year - (comes to about $140-ish total or 3 easy payments of $46) - it's PAUL MCCARTNEY, for the love of G_d, in the Holy Land, for the first time ever (and probably the last time ever too, all things considered). I actually can't afford NOT to go. If I ever merit the great good fortune to have grandchildren and one of them asks me: "Safta, did you see Paul McCartney when he came to play in Tel Aviv in 2008?" and I said, "No, I couldn't bring myself to spend $140," I just couldn't live with myself.