Monday, October 31, 2011

G-D - Who, What When, why?


For thousands of years, the question has been debated and argued over. What does G-D want of us? Again religion after religion has striven to answer that question, often to the financial and psychological advantage of a few high placed individuals in that religion. Yes, there are people who live G-Dly and holy lives in every religion. People who truly believe that their path is right and do not seek to destroy others or make them submissive to their particular brand of religion.
Religions that prolytise in my personal view are not true religions. They are man-made systems of belief that set out to convince others to become enslaved to a particular cult or religion for the benefit of a higher 'priesthood' if you like and those newer adherents are always striving to 'purify themselves or make themselves better disciples' for advantages in this existence. Those people who are caught up in organisations like scientology, the moonies and extremist brands and even the not so extremist brands of other religions like Islam and Christianty and even some of the more flawed deviant brands of what poses as authentic Judiasm are not G-Dly or holy but man-made organisations for man that has nothing to do with what G-D wants for us.
What does G-D want from us? I am still thinking through that one and have come up with many many answers but are any of them right? Who knows. On a personal level, G-D wants me personally to live a good life, one where I am honest in my dealings with others, where I am kind and compassionate when needed, strong and setting boundaries on my behaviour and that of others where and when needed. G-D wants us all to marry and have families if possible and if it is not possible, maybe we have another mission to fulful in this lifetime. Who knows, only G-D!
I had an interesting conversation with a colleague the other day. He was reading to me a newspaper extract that told of the awful massacre of Aussie soldiers in Afghanistan. A man who was 26 and the father of three children died as well as another Qlder who was 22. My nephew is serving in Afghanistan and he is 25 years old. He is my brother's only son. I gave him a book of Tehillim to take with both English Hebrew translations. I am not by any means pro war. I mean is there anyone except the crazies who are pro war? There are many of us who fight wars because we are forced into doing so. We need to defend ourselves. We do not fight wars because we love a fight. No. Most sane people are not into violence and fighting.
Anyway this man said to me, 'What is he doing over there if he is the father of three children?' 'Well,' replied,'he is a soldier. And that is what soldiers do. They defend and they fight for what they believe in.' Yet, my words sounded hollow. Maybe the other side has soldiers who do the same. They defend their families and fight for what they believe in. Yet some cultures are built on violence and anger and a destructive rage against the rest of the world. That is dangerous. We as children, all knew the danger of guns and weapons, therefore they were locked away from us and my father taught my brothers and I to shoot but only under adult supervision, because he and most sane adults know that guns are dangerous in the hands of the immature, the mentally ill and unstable.
Therefore it grieves me when I see children in one culture which shall remain unnamed for the obvious reasons, partaking in rallies with green head bandanas wrapped around their heads and carrying either real rifles or fake ones and screaming for the blood of Jews and Westerners. I think where is this culture headed? Into an abyss of violence and chaos, and they will drag the rest of us into it? G-D forbid. These people need a Ghandi figure because they are going to destroy many billions of lives if they are not stopped and taught more peaceful ways of co-existence. It is already too late for some countries though. They are going to do a lot of damage before they realise what is really going on in the world.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Tomorrow we have the holiest day in the horse racing calendar. Trainers work their horses and jockeys for months and months on end to culminate in a few minutes of intense worship every year at this time. For a few visceral minutes, man, horse and G-d connect in an act of absolute soul searing joy or pain. The latter is dependent on who wins of course, the grueling two mile or 3200 metres races.
Man or woman does his or her best to train or ride the winner in this momentous race and G-D does the rest.
The weather is dependent on a great power than man could ever hope to wield. We have had some trainers who think they are G-D like in their approach and achievement, Bart Cummings, for example, he is the closest thing we have to Royalty in the horse racing world and his laurels are more than deserved. He has taken 11 or 12 cups.
Another being worthy of the title of a Cup King is the horse that won the Caulfield Cup, the Melbourne Cup and the Cox Plate in the same Spring Racing carnival in 1954, the year of my birth. Shivers me timbers, you now know how ancient this author is.   Rising Fast's feat in the Melbourne cup carrying nearly 60 kgs (9stone 5 pounds) has been unequalled in Melbourne Cup history and until the great mare Makybe Diva won in 2005 with the number one saddle cloth and top weight, no horse has come close to the effort of this nuggety little stayer. He has a double cross to Spearmint in his sire Alonzo's blood lines and Polymelus appears on both his Dam Faster and his Sire's bloodlines. My late father used to say he was better than Phar Lap but that was not to take away from that great horse's record. It was only to indicate that Rising Fast's feat was not given the publicity that it deserved. He won on a soft or heavy track lugging a huge weight and there was interference as well. It was truly a remarkable feat of stamina and perserverance to the end. Many years ago, on our station, our station sire Yarramanbar also carried Spear Felt and Spearmint blood lines and also Carbine blood as my father and his father, my grandfather respected the progeny of that great horse very much.
Bart Cummings has two runners in the Melbourne Cup tomorrow. They are Illo and Precedence No 14 and No 11 - they are running from Barriers 1 and 2. Interesting that Bart was able to get his horses both inside barriers. May the racing angels smile on the cup king again this year.
What lesson can we learn from the Melbourne Cup and how can we relate it to Torah and Hashem? Just imagine that our life is a series of Melbourne Cup missions. We prepare with the greatest care and diligence each year for the moment of ultimate teshuva on Yom Kippur. In this case we have a whole 25 hours or so to reflect, to pray and work on improving our lives and selves and it happens once a year. It is our Melbourne Cup and we must work hard for the long slog every day of the year, knowing when to rest and when to really train. The only difference is that out of 24 runners in the Melbourne Cup there is only one winner but still it is a honour to have just been in the race. With Yom Kippur if you really do the training and hard yakka, we all come away triumphant with a Melbourne Cup to put into our mental display cabinet and we are spiritually better off and fitter human beings because of it.
Back a winner tomorrow and I not saying it is certain but I am a fan of Bart Cummings and there fore I will flutter on his two horses and put a 1 dollar each way on Shamrock for the luck of the Irish. :-)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who is the judge?


People do strange things and meddle in other people's lives and then they will justify it later as 'I only did it for his or her own good.' as if they are some authority on that person's life and have the right to control and manipulate another's life.  Having been on the receiving end of several such attempts to literally destroy my life by the well meaning 'kindness of friends' I loathe and detest people who think they can live others' lives better than the people in question can live their lives. These meddlers are always full of good advice, but if one takes a closer look at the life of the meddler, one can't help wondering what gives that person such 'insights' into the lives of others when obviously their own lives need a little more guidance and control.
I had a child at 49 years of age. My first and only child. My ex husband and I split up when I was four months pregnant with my son. We had been together at that stage for around six years and had tried for about five of those years to have children unsuccessfully until I became pregnant with my son.
A doctor in NSW looked at me, my pregnant stomach and my age and suggested that I could have a 'termination' because 'surely it is a bit inconvenient at your age to have a child.' After I had explained nicely through gritted teeth that an abortion was the last thing on my mind, in fact having a relatively trouble free pregnancy was uppermost with G-D's help even after the shock of my husband ending our marriage. I figured it was meant to be. Also the woman he left me for, their relationship did not last and he is now married to a Nigerian woman who is 22 years his junior. Let's hope it lasts. They have been married one year.
I have had my mother tell me that I should 'foster my son out' as it will be more convenient for me and I will not have to worry about him then. She also bemoans the fact that I used my ex husband's sperm and I am still not quite sure why. When she said to me,'Why on earth did you use his sperm to have a child?' I replied that I was married to my ex at the time and it is the normal thing for husband and wife to have a child TO GET HER.
It would be more abnormal for me to go in search of a person I was not married to and indicate to that person I wanted to obtain a sperm donation to have a child. I imagined the conversation would have gone something like this. Also my mother did not indicate to me that she did not like my ex when I was marrying him and she did not indicate an aversion to children fathered by him.

Me:  'Hey you over there. Come here. I want to talk to you.
The unsuspecting donor ambles on over.
Him: What can I do for you?
Me: Have you had an AIDS test recently? Are you in good health? No genetic disorders in your back ground that I should know about? All clear there, huummm?
Him: (rather astounded by the line of questioning) Hey, you are getting a bit personal here now. What is this all about? Why should my health be of interest to you?
Me: I am thinking of asking you to donate sperm so I can have a child.
Him: But aren't you married? Why aren't you having children with your husband?
Me: Well a problem has arisen here. My mother has indicated an aversion to children from my husband's seed. She is bewailing the fact that I am planning on having children with him. So looks like I might have to shop around for a suitable donor. (CUT CONVERSATION HERE)

Now that is the end and I am not going further with this imaginary conversation and very imaginary it will remain, as I would no more use the seed of a man other than the man I was married to, than fly to the moon. Halachically, (by Jewish Law) it is a big NO NO and the child would be illegitimate as well.
Truth be told my mother never liked either of my husbands. One she was convinced he was a paedophile and the other she said was only marrying me for citizenship to Australia. So for about a year or more, she was battering me with reasons to put my son in a foster home. My brother and sister in law in America entertained similar ideas as I was 'too young to be a mother'. Quite crackers,  that idea.
I have also had well meaning friends 'offer advice' as to the rearing of my son and often one gets totally fed up with the tone of the conversation because it comes across as they are in the know and 'can do it so much better than you, poor thing, you single mother you. Look you could not even keep your husband, so how on earth are you going to keep a man' sort of attitude.
Sometimes we should not judge others until we have walked a mile in their shoes, so to speak. And I try to remember before I offer advice, how does it come across to those who are receiving it? Is it wanted, is it or could it be offensive to others?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shabbat Rosh Hodesh Cheshvan


This shabbat is a rather special shabbat. It is Shabbat Rosh Hodesh Cheshvan. After the month of Tishri where our spiritual beings are renewed and invigorated by chag after chag with the high point of Yom Kippur, it is sort of strange to settle into the mundanity of the normal seven day cycle. But we need this collapse back into routine. It allows us to catch our breath until Pesach and we prepare for that by starting our cleaning around Purim.

Shabbes Comes

Shabbes comes, but once a week
We are busy bees for six days
Doing what we have to do
To fulfil our material needs
We scurry this way and that to seek
To fill the cupboards and tables true,
Some of us study Torah all day
And others do a little study as
We all work hard with our hands
Or minds and help
To build and create
Our Jewish homes to make
Them pure and to do mitzvot in many ways
But suddenly the hurry and worry starts to slow down
As the sun sinks low
It dyes the rolling full skirts of the clouds' gowns
Tinted hues galore of fiery grace
The world slows and enters another phrase
Another dimension in time and space.
'Shalom, Shalom, shabbat shalom' chitter the birds
As they settle their heads under neat wings
pressed to their sides,
'Stop WORK, STOP!' screech the galahs
Soaring above the parks and gums.
The magpies's song breaks out
Just before the sun dips down
Below the horizon
A rolling melody in celebration of
The day of rest
Testifying to the beauty of this world
Which G-D has given to us for safe keeping.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The concept of teshuva


There are many cases where people have turned their lives around in a most remarkable fashion. We have stories of former drug addicts who become prominent contributing members of society, alcoholics who remain sober and upright members of a community and people who have been in prison for whatever reason who follow a law abiding life once they are out. These people must be stronger than the negative perceptions thrown up through their former lives and associates. They succeed despite the best efforts of the media and the meddlers around them, to destroy them.

People generally do live up to expectations imposed upon them by social leaders. If the social leaders of a community are stern and judgemental, then you will find little sympathy for those weaker members of the community.If a person has a weakness, he or she should be helped to acknowledge and overcome their weaknesses but not be judged personally by their actions.
What is Teshuva? It is literally to return to a correct way of being and lifestyle. It is not about the concept of good and evil.  It is about correcting one's way of living life and dealing with others in a
G-Dly and holy way. If we look beyond into the essence of the soul, we then understand that our actions here in this world create an image in people's minds of who we are and that image is dependent on what we say, think, eat, write, act on and what we do. It is both very complex and very simple in essence.
How connected are you personally to G-D? Do you try to renew or refresh that connection every day?
As a Jew I do - in what I eat, pray, think and say (in the majority of cases, I am successful with lashon hara, but at times you err without realising it and need to make rectification quite often).
It pains me to read papers nowadays and I don't because when I do, I invariably get upset by what I read. Somethings, I think about for days afterwards.
Lately we have had a spate of media reports about someone who has not gone to trial yet and the papers have published his picture and 'convicted him' before the courts have even had a chance. That is wrong. Even if you are 100% sure this person is guilty, you are not the judge and jury of others. That is what lynch mobs are about and it is not justice.
This man has family and what is worst children of his own. How do you think they feel seeing their father's name plastered over a paper and condemned before he goes to a trial. What must go through the mind of a young teenager and what of the man's parents. I think we should at times shut up and have some respect for justice and fair play.
Innocent until proven guilty and if not, exonerated completely.

What is a 'Mentsch'?

Recently I had an experience where I was 'given a lesson in what is a mentsch.' These are words of the person who defines herself as a mentsch. Let me tell the story from the beginning and while I had known this person from 1973, nearly forty years ago, this story starts in around 1992. I was separated from my ex-husband who was wanting money for a gett. Not enough that I was ripped off blind during the two and a half years of our marriage, he was also anxious that I would pay dearly for our divorce emotionally and financially. He was that sort of person and I guess that is why I am no longer married to him. He actually predicted the event two weeks after our chuppa, when he told me that we would be lucky to last two years of marriage. I was shocked at the time and spent the night in tears, thinking 'how could he say that?' Little did I know what cruelty he was capable of. But then opinions differ as some one else told me 'How come you split from X? He has a heart of gold!'  I declined to answer as such is none of anybody else's business and bit back the retort that was springing to my lips,'Pity he does not have a warm, good heart. That is preferable to a heart of gold, which is cold and metallic.' Obviously we were not suited and he might be far warmer to a person that he likes. I realised later in the peace that he did not like me and hence his abuse - called me a stupid farm girl and much worst.
Anyway to cut a long story short, I borrowed money to pay a couple of thousand $ for my gett and this so-called 'friend' went guarantor. I had imagined that I would be teaching and it would be paid off in no time. However as events panned out, I took a package from the Victorian Teaching Service and later went to Israel. I reasoned that I could continue payments from there as there was less than two thousand to pay back at that time. My biggest mistake was not to pay out the whole amount and be done with it before I left for Israel.
In Israel I was ripped off several times. The most notable time being with an Israel Yeminite girl who was going out with this non Jewish German guy.  I paid this couple several months rent in advance and moved into this flat near Rabin Square. Two weeks later, the landlord was throwing us all out because the rent had not been paid. I was actually almost catonic with shock that someone would do something like this. Not today however. I have come to expect startling dishonesty in others and the latest event I will relate with this friend has shaken my faith in people for all time.
Thanks to Tamara of Daniel School of Foreign Languages on whose couch I slept for nearly two months and who stored my belongings in the school storeroom at Beit Jabotinsky in Rehov Melch HaGeorge, I survived without ending up on the streets. I finally was able to get into a flat and needed $1,000 bond for it as well as the two months rent in advance that I had saved up over the time. I did also give Tamara some money too, as she was also a single parent and I did not expect to stay there for nothing. I borrowed $1,000 from my brother in America and put it into a bank account to secure the flat and gave the rent to Nitzan the guy whose flat it was who was going overseas to South America for six months. Anyway after I am in the flat I ended up romantically involved with someone who paid my fare to England as we went over there to visit his ninety six year old father. We had intended to get married. All of a sudden I get rather offensive phone calls from my sister in law in America and stern calls from my brother about this $1,000. I was accused of
1. Attempting to rip them off
2. Reminded that I had ripped off my 'best friend' ( it was interesting to understand that I had never intended NOT to pay her and was very upset that I was in a situation that I could not pay her.)
3. Told that I must pay back the $1,000 IMMEDIATELY or else I was just going to rip them off and when I told them it was in a fixed deposit for six months and it is difficult to break and they would have their money at the end of February, they did not believe me and I was subject to abuse and quite vile language. I retaliated and told my sister in law if her and my brother's children had her as a role model of behaviour they would end up being pigs.
4. She also rang my then fiance and told him some things about me whether true or not I will never know but he broke off with me and we did not part on the best of terms.

I did break the fixed deposit and sent them back the money which they have never acknowledged that they received it, despite me asking several times after that if they had received the money. I even asked my mother if they had received the money and she informed me that they want a suitable apology from me before they would ever speak to me again. We have not spoken since 1996 and are unlikely to do so ever again in keeping I guess with family traditions in our family where feuds run deep and bitter for the lifetimes of the people involved. I refuse to apologise to them because I need to know what I have to apologise for and as far as I can see, I do not have to apologise for anything.
My mother had informed me that my sister in law has the memory of an elephant and that I should never have called her children 'pigs'. I actually am not sorry for what I said. She actually said a lot worst to me about me and my family. If anything I am the one owed the apology.  Now the type of people they have proved themselves to be, I really do not want one and think my life is enriched by having nothing to do with such people.
I was told that this 'old friend' rang my mother in Queensland with some story and if my biological family did not have enough grievances against me, they now had another grievance to add to the many real or imagined ones that they could add to the case they have built up against me to justify their opinion of me as this criminal drug addict, prostitute, religious fanatic etc, etc etc. It is nice to know that one is loved dearly by one's own family to the extent that they will even make up stories to endeavour to get one into as much trouble as possible. Excuse me for breathing at times. It upsets people that I am even alive at times, I feel.
Anyway to cut this long story shorter, when I eventually did get back to Australia I endeavoured to pay this woman back the money plus interest. It was one of the things that I told my ex husband, the second one, that I owed money to an old 'friend' and I was honour bound to repay it. I ended up paying her $1,600 cash and cheques which she never receipted and I do know the reason why because she had been telling people that I owed her $10,000 then $20,000 and before I know it the debt could be blown out into tghe $100,000's. Once when I asked her why are you telling people I owe you this massive amount of money and her reply was weird. 'Oh, she replied quite casually, 'When a sand fly bites you, you always say it is far worst than it really is.'
She rang me out of the blue one day a few months back and asked me to do some editing work for her. She is a barrister and a nautropath. I kid you not. She is shrewd and very dishonest, but considers herself a real mentsch. I would love to publish some of her emails to me in light of what she said to me and what she did and how she considers herself much more of a mentsch than 'any religious person.'
We agreed on a price and I was to edit 80 pages of a text for her. She had 'had trouble with another editor' I was told. In light of the way she behaved with me, I am not surprised. The price was cheap and the pages were single spaced and in eleven point font, but in view of the fact that it was a long overdue debt and she was supposed to be a friend, I overlooked those details. I was just glad of a way to pay her back the money and yes the original amount was doubled but what is a few thousand between friends. Anyway she had time constraints and I agreed to work within those to the best of my ability considering I had just started back working four days a week at a school. I was to pay $1500 off the old debt and to receive a $500 cash payment plus, now get this, a $250 bonus. She must have been laughing and smirking all the way up her sleeve at me when she wrote this to me in an email. I was also glad of the money that I was going to put aside for rent and use some money to get some things for Rosh Hashana. What I did learn from this is to always invoice in advance and never trust anyone in business, even old friends, just as I learnt never to trust husbands as well. Love never reaches to the hip pocket.
During the time I worked for her, I had sometimes up to six or seven emails a day and some of them, plus the phone calls were quite abusive. I thought the better of it and thought oh, poor thing, she is so stressed because of the deadlines and the book and  made excuses for her.  She spoke to me as if I was quite stupid frequently and in light of what she later did, I should have been warned.
For example, 'Oh, Ilana, you JUST don't get it do you? I am dyslexic. I just can't do this.' 'Oh, Ilana, you just don't get it, do you? You know I have a deadline for this and you are taking too long on this. I want chapters 1, 2 and 3 by Friday... because, you just don't get it, do you, I aaammm dyslexic!' Now her spelling was off and don't ask me about her expression. I found myself wondering how did she manage to pass her law assignments, let alone the bar exams. We went from doing a full structural edit with grammar and expression to just a skim through without mark up on the bare basics of the text. Frankly I was feeling really annoyed and thought to myself, if you do not want a proper job find someone else, but for the reasons mentioned above, I persevered and thought ok, it will soon be over and I will have paid back most of the debt and good riddance to her. I almost feel now that she was trying to set me up so she could slag off about me afterwards.
I did get the work in on the Tuesday before Rosh Hashana and it was done despite her bad language and BS that I had to deal with. Being busy with yom tov arrangements I did not hassle for the money but I did tell her that I had to pay rent in early October and could I have the money then. You have guessed it. She did not pay me a cent and she was quite gleeful about what she did. Who cares that a single mother and a child are turfed out of their flat because they are late with rent. Not this woman who is both a nautropath and a Barrister. She is actually quite proud of what she did, because as she told me, she is a mentsch.
This is her text to me unedited.

Dear Ilana

you odviously did not understand a word

you are outrageously abusive and have few morals or ethics

to say that you are jewish and religous is an insult to

the majority of us you can never be one because

you don't have the heart head or morals

and you are being such a bitch because you owe me money

and want to make sure we are not in touch to escape your responsibility


ruined my business reputation and financial record by going

bank-rupt  and fleeing to Isreal without even saying good-bye or sorry

you have no remore for all the problems you have caused me

and you have little or no undertanding of the 10 commandmentes

nor of shabas or anything - it is all an out of control performance

Religon it really an excuse to bludge of and take your problems out on others

your abuse and approach disgusts me

how could you even think that a barrister would post stuff about you on the net

you really think you are so important - but you have obviosly unspet someone

to have them unpleasant stuff about you

And the bit about me fleeing to Israel is rich. I did not flee to Israel. I did say goodbye and after this email, plus another, where she bangs on about religion and how 'I am supposed to not see her as a good person and I am supposed to believe myself too good for her,' I then received an email about a show on narcissistic personalities. I started to laugh. This is not for real. The only one trying to escape her responsibilities or commitments is yours truly.
I did go to Israel quite heartbroken about my failed marriage and other reasons, but I did not go to escape any responsibilities. What does she think?  I would go to Israel to avoid paying just under two thousand $. She has got to be kidding. She is the narcissist thinking that my making aliyah to Israel was all about her and my debt of just under two thousand to her. It had more to do with an abusive ex husband who was spreading a lot of loshon Hara about me and making my life impossible here.
So if she is what is a mentsch, then I am a monkey's uncle. She had also sent pictures of a certain part of her private anatomy to a Jewish guy who shall remain nameless, and his non Jewish girl friend who was converting, just before I left for Israel in 1994. A mutual friend tried to ask me to talk to her about it. I declined because I know her too well and so I tried to defend her as being the only daughter of two holocaust survivors and telling this person to go easy on her because she has issues and just try and see her good side and literally defended her. I am not sorry I did, but after her latest attack on me, I shall not do it again.
Considering the way she has behaved at times towards her parents, it is hardly kivod av ve im.
I also feel her book will not do well, as when you thieve from someone in order to get what you want, the score is evened up elsewhere. They say you do have to come back in another reincarnation if someone owes you money and deal with that person again. I believe my debt to her is pretty well paid up now. If she owes me anything, I guess I would say that it is paid in full. I absolve her of the debt and say good riddance. I know I would not want her handling my legal work when you look at the spelling and the grammar, plus the prejudice and hatred expressed in that letter.
I did one thing I am ashamed of and I am doing teshuva for. I rang her and left one abusive message because I had had a gutful of her games. I am sorry I lost it, but you know what, I am glad I did because I will never have to talk to her again. On that score, I feel really free and light.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes we are all needy, but where do you draw the line?

My world view is very different from many peoples. I will be the first to admit that and there are some surprising kinks or knots in it, but then I like normality and order. Chaos never pleases me over much and one of the hardest things to come to terms with when I was bullied out of teaching in NSW and pronounced unfit to teach by a principal who was both a bully and an illiterate English teacher ( I kid you not and you only have to go to the website of a certain High School in southern NSW where he is now ensconced - it is a different school to the one where he was principal when I was transferred there, compliments of his old mate a principal at another high school who I had complained about - hence the transfer,  you will understand the impoverished level of his English and you will understand why he is a principal and not in a classroom). was the lack of order in my life. It was a stark contrast to the ordered and routine existence I had as a teacher to be thrust into the never-never land of the mentally ill and chronically unemployed dropouts from society on the say so of a malicious principal.
I see a teacher's role in the classroom in communication is to help kids make sense of a rather weird and changing world, but to be tolerant of differences. We must be. The problem is where does the dividing line lie. I have never espoused all the views of the lefty bleeding heart brigade. I am after all a fairly straight forward right wing liberal. I can see or sense some people will want to shut down this blog now. I do not believe in climate change a la Al Gore. However I have compassion for all people and empathise with their social and financial conditions especially if they have had a rough time because of certain conditions that they cannot help or it is beyond their control to change. Some people go out of their way to attract trouble and violence to themselves and others are less then cautious about who they associate with socially.

There are certain people I will not associate with because of the implications for my family (my young son) if they happened to go off the rails and it does happen. No one can give 100% guarantee about the future behaviour of any individual. People who have abused children either their own or someone else's - can you be sure that they will not do it again? No, not really. But by the same token do we ostracise them and risk further alienating them from the mainstream of society?  Again that certainly seems the safest path to follow at first glance and certainly they have to be watched 100% of the time that they are around children. Furthermore they should not be employed in a capacity where they come into contact with children. That is putting a stumbling block before the blind. These people have a weakness and nothing will change that. An alcoholic is always an alcoholic. A drug addict is always a drug addict.  Child molestation is a bit the same with some more serious implications for the person and those around him or her.
Sometimes it is best to bring your enemy closer to you. The reasons why are two fold.
1. You will find it easier to keep an eye on him/her.
2. You may be able to influence him /her for the better
Think about it. You alienate them, they end up becoming more and more enmeshed in a me and the rest of the world mentality and lose that sense of social boundaries that they presently have.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

in Praise of Open Learning Spaces, NOT!

The idea that the open learning space is a new idea and that it is innovative and unique, is erroneous. The third adjective I can agree with in that it is uniquely stupid. Whoever designed these 'open learning spaces' was not a student or a teacher. Speaking to a teacher who was teaching in the seventies, I was told it was touted as the way to go in that era, but it did not work as well as it was supposed to then. so everyone gradually went back to smaller rooms that allowed the teacher and the students to focus on what they were doing and not what others were doing.
The trouble is we forget and then some 'bright bureaucrat' comes along and thinks this is a wonderful idea. Trouble is they do not do their research or really look at the practicalities of it all. They are probably people who have never spent much time in a classroom teaching, if ever, themselves.
When  you have new innovations they need to be trialed before you foist a whole building on a school because you as in some government department, thinks it is what the school needs. Each school's needs are different as are the needs of the student population.
Open learning spaces can be good in some environments, but the planning of one needs to be done in conjunction with those teachers, principals and staff who are actually going to have to use it. We still need classrooms and private space for teachers and students of individual classes to learn in them.
It can be a destraction to have another class working along side your class if you want your students to work quietly, especially if that class is doing plays and performance or something that requires a bit of verbalisation and noise. Open learning spaces can work very well in some settings and with the appropriate circumstances, but we still need classrooms and a room that students of a class can call their own. Students and teachers need a sense of belonging or an anchor. We all do. We all need a home or home room. don't we?

Most memorable moments

It has always bothered me that ordinary people would write an autobiography and even some famous or infamous people. We could often do without reading their biography and it becomes an exercise in self congratulations or self justification for having taken a certain path in life or over come something that really was not that wonderful or mind blowing anyway.
I really do not think that I have any new insights to impart, except for the fact that what I share may or may not help someone who has faced similar challenges because they will see the mistakes and pitfalls I have come across and made errors of judgement and avoid them. Other people are far more interesting and of great worth than I am. Hopefully I will write something more worth while one day.

My earliest memories are of receiving radiation treatment for a birth mark on my left eye lid. I can remember the iron cot and the discomfort of the bandage that I felt I had to take off. It annoyed me and I struggled to get it off as much the nurse struggled to put it back on. The cot was cast iron and painted white. My mother was no where around and I was hungry but I did not want to eat. I wanted my mother who was absent. Later I know that she was looking after my brother who had had an infection in his nose that destroyed the cartilage in his nose. My mother would describe how the doctor took a scalpel and pressed against his poor little nose and a sausage of pus and blood burst out from under the blade. She would describe the smell and how terrible it was for her, but not a word of sympathy for the boy. How she never realised what was going on, I do not know. When she took him to the doctor he had been screaming for some days and his nose and face were swollen. The infection ran right through his sinuses and when he healed he had a stub of a nose that had no cartilage and he needed plastic surgery later in life to repair the damage. He was only around six to seven months old.
Later when she had our younger brother, we were left at the property with an American woman Elisabeth who took to me with a broom and beat and beat me with it. Then she threatened to kill me if I told my parents what had happened. Oh. for the day when you could have CCTV. I was four years old and my brother was just two and a half. She was a big brute of a chunky well fed amazon.
It raised some quite interesting complexes in me later and I am not sure what my brother thought of the whole affair but it was he who told my parents. Surprisingly you would have expected them to make her pack her suitcase and walk the 32 kilometers into Wyandra, given the fact that my ribs, backside and legs were black and blue with bruises. I would have if some one had done that to my son or any child for that matter.
There was only two trains a week and a mail truck that came from that train twice a week to bring groceries and mail from Wyandra. We could go six months with only several trips to Wyandra and one trip to Charleville which was 100 miles away and three hours on the dirt track one way. The name of the property we lived on was Elverston and it had been in the family since the late 19th Century. When I say it had been in the family, it had belonged to my father's mother's family - the Kirbys. Wyandra is a rail stop between Cunnamulla and Charleville in Queensland. When I was a child it consisted of a railway siding, three pubs I think and two general stores and around twenty houses of railway fettlers or people who worked on the railway lines between the two country towns. There was also an orchard and a police station and a fuel depot. The police station had one policeman and his family. There was also the state school which only went to primary school and there was a church building which I only ever saw from the outside once and that was when my youngest brother had to be baptised because the bush brother made a visit to the property and asked about whether we had been. I think Christopher had been done on a trip to Brisbane when my grandmother broke her hip and I was done at an early age and shocked everyone by taking the priest's keys and throwing them into the font of holy water. Apparently it was quite a struggle to get me to hold still and they did not do a very good job of it. Water went every where and my father later joked that everything was 'holy' once they finished with me as water was splashed everywhere and the priest was glad to see the back of me and my parents. Considering I later converted to Orthodox Judaism and still am an observant Jewess it was probably a harbinger of things to come.  I never had a great affection for Christianity and later when sent to a High Anglican Church St Margaret's boarding school in Albion Brisbane that antipathy deepened noticeably.  My parents' friends the Smiths from Elmina Station told them that it was an excellent school and turned out young ladies of the finest degree. Elsa Smith was something of a snob. She had two daughters who both graduated with flying colours from this school and both were prefects. My father's family had had only boys and therefore they did not have much experience in choosing a school for a girl. My mother being Austrian had not the slightest clue what was required in the education of a grazier's daughter and my grandmother did try to help but my mother and her did not really see eye to eye on many things. Neither my mother or grandmother was very attached to any religion. My father and his brothers had to be baptised before they were married because Gran had forgotten about it. There were more important things in the bush to deal with and it may also have been deliberate.
Apart from a German bible of my mother's, there was not one copy of a bible, christian or otherwise on the well laden bookshelves at my parent's house or my Grandmother's house.  When I went to St Margaret's High Church of England Girl's Grammar, having a St James version of the Old and New Testament was part of the school equipment and texts. Although I made heavy use of it because when one had detentions, it was considered good for the soul to write out sections of the bible. I had a lot of detention in those two years and if I had stayed on there, I would not have been eligible for a weekend until the beginning of year 10. I left at the end of year 8.
The good thing was that they let you choose between the new and old testament and I always chose the old testament and had a particular liking for psalm 23. I still do and it used to annoy the nuns no end. When one of them asked me why I should not sometimes delve into the New Testament, I replied it was confusing and disjointed. She told me that was because I was too young to understand it. So I said good, I am obviously not ready for the New and I will stick with the old, tried and true. The stories in the Tanach spoke volumes more and I remember reading proverbs or Perkai Avot and enjoying them immensely.
Anyway I am jumping. I want to explore memories of my childhood, the relationship between my mother and myself, my father and grandmother and our governesses. We did tend to get rid of them rather quickly which was why my mother found a retired school teacher Mr Vaughan who was very handy with the cane to teach and civilise us the year before I went to boarding school. I turned eleven that year 1965 and my brother Christopher nine. Christopher was such a 'problem' for my mother that they sent him to Churchie, the Church of England Grammar School for boys in Brisbane at ten years of age rather than at eleven when he was supposed to go. Stephen my mother's favourite child did not go away until year 8 aged 12 and a half - later than either of us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A child's grief

Grief tears a hole

In the wholeness

Of our being’s fabric

As we, numbed

With pain, clutch at threads

And attempt to attach them

One to the other,

To recreate the garment

Once so finely woven

Of flesh and blood,

From the time we first draw breath

Our voyage is our own.

The umbilical cord once cut

Seals off one to the other.

The vessel of the mother

Expels the evidence,
But the child is left with a reminder

Of what once joined it

To another’s warm flesh and fed it blood.

We gather the moments

Together treasured

And move on through

The tunnels of time

Endeavouring to recreate

Our closeness to kin

Through our own child

But yet join with the others

In reaching beyond flesh

To understand the great plan

Of old creation


An Afterthought

One of the things that I decided to do on Rosh Hashana over the next few weeks was to detail my spiritual journey in a number of posts (with changed names of course, in some areas as I do not want to get sued and somethings is not about who or what but the lessons inherent). It may even take more than a few posts but I have decided to write out my journey on a lot of aspects from the time of my earliest memories which began when I was around two and a half years old and had a birth mark on my left eye burnt out by radiation.
What decided me was a meeting with an old friend who happened to meet with me while I was talking with a newer friend who was walking her two dogs over the chaggim. It was quite fascinating and freaky as this new friend is the daughter of two holocaust survivors and her mother is from Vienna, Austria. The three of us were standing smoozing on the corner of Kooyong and Balaclava Roads. It came out that all three of us had Austrian mothers. Now what is the chances of that happening? Three women of similar ages within say ten years of each other meet on a street corner at a given time and start to talk and in the course of the conversation we suddenly realise all three of us have Austrian mothers. The other two have Polish fathers. My father's linage is Australian of Irish and German Jewish extraction. Now I had always been told that Rachel Aaron who was my father's father's grandmother was Danish or Dutch. I researched and found that she was actually of German Jewish extraction and her grandparents and great grand parents were originally from Hamburg and Berlin. So it becomes more interesting. I still have not had time to go into the background of my mother's mother but it will be interesting to do so one day.
I have always wondered about my mother. You see I know almost nothing about her family except the little she told me and she kept hidden the fact for many years that she and her twin sister were illegitimate. I was twenty six years old before I knew those details about her birth and her parents. She was always mysterious and very vague about her parents. I knew that there was something quite funny but I really did not have the worldly knowledge or know how to inquire. In the days when she was born in a very Catholic country like Austria, children born out of wedlock had a raw deal to say the least. Their birth certificate testified to the fact of their illegitimacy and it was known to all who viewed it as the German word for illegitimacy was stamped in red block letters across the document, so there was a lot of shame attached to the fact. Hence it probably contributed to my mother's quite neurotic and anxious behaviour in dealing with us and in her parenting of myself and my brothers. During my childhood, I remember one of her favourite refrains was and I quote with her accent,'I never did swear till I had dese children. Dis is not me. Dey make me swear. Before I was a calm.' She also used to tell me later that she would take my youngest brother back to Austria with her and leave Christopher and I with Dad and his family. I was about seven when she first told me that and I think I started wetting the bed for a few months as I was quite nervous about who was going to look after us and what we would do if she went and why would she take one of us and leave the other two.
On one hand I wanted to be very good so she would not go and on the other hand anxiety would make me very nervous and wild. I think that sometimes I wanted to show her that we could not manage without her and that Dad and the three of us needed her too. She compensated by sending me to my grandmother's at the neighbouring property for a week or more at a time and my anxiety would lesson in my grandmother's house but was instead replaced by a feeling that I was the source of all the tzorus or sorrows and trouble in the family and that things were ok when I was not there but when I was, it was chaotic and that the family was better off without me.

Parting from the High Holy Days is Bitter Sweet...


A new year has dawned. 5772 in the Jewish calendar. I thought just the other day that it will be 228 years before we reach the 6000 th year, but caught myself in time, thinking Moishiah will have to be here by then and we will be enjoying a era of peace and Israel will be as it should be and the Jewish people will have success and happiness in all things. I will be 285 years old and my son should have been happily married for many years with numerous children, great great grand children and so on.... :- D  Such is the stuff of dreams. Reality can differ a little, but we do make our own luck and reality in this life and we need to work at doing it and not sitting back and expecting it all to come falling into our laps without any real effort on our part. The above is tongue in cheek now as my original post and maths was a little in error by about 200 years or so.
I have been slack as far as writing goes. Glen Eira's My Brother Jack Literary competition has come and gone this year, as has The Age Short Story Competition and the E J Brady Competition and I have been too busy with numerous other things to do and the Yom Tovim to enter any of them.
I have learnt a valuable lesson this year. I have listened to too many other people and been distracted and not followed my own path but allowed myself to be buffetted by this or that person into doing something else.
One needs to keep to one's own course of action and not allow oneself to be sidetracked. For example, my son's education is very important to me and it is very important that he get a Jewish Education and that he will end up as a frum or observant Jew. I come from a very mixed background and I want to ensure that my son has seder and a good life. I want him to have the right lifestyle and example in living. I fail to see how he is going to get it in a Non Jewish government school surrounded by Non Jews who while very worth while people, they will be un equiped to instill in him the right values and knowledge of Israel and Jewish lifestyle. It is just not possible. The number of people trying to tell me that it is enough that my son has a state school education and that I should not bring him up Jewish is unbelievable. Most of them are secular Jews who do not value Jewish education in Jewish schools and quite possibly do not value Jewish Education that much anyway. What I cannot understand is the number of people who think I should leave my son in the state school system throughout the whole of his schooling. That I feel is detrimental to him and will ensure that he marries out. A boy without a father needs the relevant role models around him to model himself on and he will not get it from non Jews in the state school system.
I have started working again and I am very happy to say that I want to teach and edit and above all make money to support myself and my son and to put him through school. I will move house and I do not care much about where I move eventually so long as we can walk to Mizrachi or Hamayan. Probably Mizrachi because I want my son to have an education that is Jewish and he will evenutally go to Israel on a program and if he ends up living in Israel, I shall be very happy. He will eventually serve in the Israeli Army. Of course, I would prefer that Israel did not need an army by the time he is 18 and eligible to serve but if he needs to serve, he needs to serve. If we want a strong state and one that will exist for all time, we must work to ensure that it does and be prepared to make sacrifices in the right way and for the right reasons.
Our children are never fully ours. They are gifts entrusted to us for safekeeping. We are merely the caretakers of precious objects that we treasure but we do not own them.
On that note, I am so glad that Gilad Shalit is finally home with his family. Yes, the price paid was tremendous, but we value each life. How fitting that people who do value life, have given another chance to mass murderers to change their ways and to begin a path of social recovery and for them to discover the real essence of living for the life of one beautiful human being that their Hamas mates have so viciously damaged in body and I believe, they have also tried to damage his neshama or soul. But a Yiddishe neshama is protected by the Abishter throughout all time. Gilad Shalit looks frail and as if he has been through absolute hell, but he is also by all acounts a most remarkable young man, as are his parents and family.
Finally, a note on this week's parsha Berishis. This I heard at lunch today from a very learned woman, young mother of two children. The question is why does the first parsha of the Torah start with the two first very pure beings created by Hashem, Adam and Hava being given these instructions about the the tree of knowledge and they are told not to eat of this tree for four hours. Hashem's command is detailed and very specific. 'Do not eat of this tree for the next four hours until Shabbes. If you do this, your lives will be eternally good. Forever.Literally you will be in Gan Eden forever and ever.'He tells Adam and Adam relates the message to Hava. Yes, it is the snake who is instrumental in making Hava think about this, but Hava takes it one step further. The snake by the way serves his purpose and when Hashem questions Adam and Hava as to why, he does not do so to the snake but punishes the snake outright with the utmost severity and from that we learn that one who tries to mislead us from a true path, should be cut off without explanations or even questionings. You see the snake has knowledge and misuses it to mislead and to deceive, to manipulate, whereas Adam and Hava were in a state of innocence and still to a certain extent are. They are capable of tzuva. The snake will never make true tzuva as he tries to pervert the true course of Hashem.
Anyway the explanation went something like this and I am still pondering it and deciding whether I agree or disagree with it and why.
Hava realises that there is a purpose behind what Hashem has told Adam because his instructions are so detailed and inherent in them is a choice. If they do not eat of the tree of Knowledge, their lives will be eternally good for all time. They will be on a high spiritual plane and all life will be good forever. However, Adam and Hava are created in the image of Hashem and in that there is a power capable of changing for the better all things around them and the mundane world. There is the power to raise sparks and to create light in the darkness. If they are do eat of the fruit, then they understand that their lives and their role in the world will change. They as holy beings will be brought down to a level where they can effect real change in world that is of base material. A world that is craving holiness and spirituality. That is their role in the scheme of things to raise the mundane to a spiritual level. Hashem has given them a choice and the power to choose to use their power of creativity and ability to effect change in a base world by an act of seeming disobedience, when really it is not so but a part of the greater scheme of things.
Think about it. It is a very interesting and inspiring thought. Gut Voch and may the last week of the month of Tisheri inspire us as much as the chaggim did and we should all have a wonderful year of challenges and changes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back to School


My son woke up with a cough and I was half inclined to want to keep him home, but decided that he could go to school. He had a similar croupy bark on Sunday but it went away within an hour of waking up and running around.
I decided that it was not too serious and packed him off to school and his Hebrew class.I went to work, as I must to pay rent and keep a roof over our heads, no matter how meagre.
Classes, staff meeting afterwards and some are concerned that the Melbourne Cup is three weeks away. come to think of it, do I get paid for a public holiday? I must ask.
Still seething over the website and the viciousness of the trick played on me by a so-called 'old friend'. It hurts and I never do want anything to do with her again. Definitely a person to avoid being too entangled with.
I look at my gorgous son and I think how he has grown and how he has matured despite the bullying and all the other stuff that was done to him. How he endured my breakdown and depression after my bullying and I look and see a real little champion guy. He has never once wavered in his loyalty to me. That makes me strong as if he can be strong  so can I. I must be his support in all ways too.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mikeybear has continued his insidous ranting rampage against me and my views on same sex marriage


However he has taken it to new heights and frankly dangerous ones. I am seeking legal advice next week on how to get his more than defamatory and quite vicious comments off the internet.  It appears that he might even have joined forces with an old 'friend' who I did some editing for two weeks before the Rosh Hashanah. This person revealed a deep seated hatred of me for goodness knows what reason. Sometimes people do not need a reason to hate and wish to destroy. They just do. They get pleasure and their jollies off destroying and denigrating another person for no good reason except they enjoy it. It gives them a sense of power. It makes them feel good and they love to kick the vulnerable and the weak. It is called being psychotic or people with a personality disorder and they are quite crazy.
Yes I did owe her money for some time and had made several attempts to pay her back money and had perceived this editing job as one where I would be able to pay off the debt which she had inflated no end anyway. It is nice to know that your life and the life of your child is worth less than two thousand dollars.
As of when this person collects my car, I will have nothing to do with her and indeed I had little to do with Mikeybear except to express my views disagreeing with same sex marriage and explained why. He and this witch have conspired to hurt me in a most insideous way, through my parnossa and through destroying my ability to earn a decent living.

What is so laughable is that this person presents himself as the champion of the oppressed gay and lesbian community, yet is so committed to destroying the norm of Dad and Mum society that it is beyond belief. We are no longer allowed to be a male and a female in a relationship if you read his posts. There is only one valid lifestyle and that is of course, two mums and two dads. The rest of us can just go to hell if we read between the lines. So much for respect and tolerance.

The other person, I feel an enormous amount of hurt and still cannot see the way clear to forgive or forget what she has done because I can still see her smirking nastiness in the email she sent me and frankly I no longer care to be friends with someone who would do such a thing to even another person, let alone me. I actually do not want that sort of person in my circle of friends. I want people who do care for others and who would not go out of their way to hurt another person. I think one has to chose friends who have similar values to ones own. People who enjoy to hurt others are definitely not my friends. People who do not care for other's welfare, are definitely not my friends. People who bully and provoke others in a nasty teasing way, are the sorts of people I want to give a wide berth.
I was so upset by the webpage put up by this pair that I rang the woman and left a message absolutely ballistic and I swore. Something that I don't usually do. I hate bad language and the loss of self control just after Yom Kippur hurts me more because all that davening and self control used in not eating and just getting through is wasted.
One who loses one's temper is like an idol worshipper. It is going to take a lot of avoda and tehillim to get back to where I was. Also that fact that I was crying and angry, my son came into the kitchen halfway through my angry message and saw that I was crying and started to cry.  It pulled me back to my senses and I have decided to let this woman have my car so she cannot say I owe her any more money. She will leave me alone hopefully.
I just want to look after my son well and raise him to be a good Jew and a mensch.I am not into games played to cause distress to others and to make fun or mock others' beliefs, unless they are politicians and they are doing something really silly. Then they are fair game.
We should strive for peace and hope in the world. I have named Mikeybear because he has named me repeatedly and in a vulgar and vicious way. He deserves to be named. The only reason I will not name the other person is because I want to be totally indifferent to her. I want to forget her name and the fact that I knew her. There are some who hurt you to the core and they explode the friendship in a nuclear reaction that completely obliterates it. She literally threatened my life and that of my child. That is what upset me more than anything. It is as if we were pawns that she could play with our lives like we were no more than chess pieces on a board game. It takes a certain type of personality to do that. One better not to have too close to you.
There are some people others should not go between or try to interfere with, as it will have catastrophic results for the person who does such a thing, both in this world and the next.  Never interfere between parents and a child, never come between a husband and wife or support one or the other in an argument. You can listen and be supportive on ethical grounds, but do not try to interfere.
Strive for peace and unity (achdut) in all things. When people are not interested in achdut, forget them and do not acknowledge their existance if they can do such things.Be at peace in one self but be aware of the weakness in others and do not get sucked in.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coming through Yom Kippur is an emotional experience


I always get to thinking of Rabbi Akiva and how they ripped the flesh off his bones and he died with the Shema on his lips thanking G-D for the opportunity to reach the point of where he had total understanding of the Shema. He gave thanks for having the opportunity to really reach up to G-D through this phrase that we say twice a day - morning and night. The Shema literally translated in English proclaims,'Hear O'Israel, the L-rd our G-D, the L-rd is ONE.' It is a complete denial of the false gods and those who do not understand G-dliness and the holiness of G-D.It reminds us that we are before the complete and perfect master of the universe. We cry out to the Creator of the cosmos and that is a frightening and awe inspiring thing when you think about it. We are but grains of sand, yet each of us is an individual creation that is unique in the scheme of things and important.
My journey to Judaism began many years ago as a child and my first full awareness of G-D was when I was only seven years of age. I was sitting on the verandah of the house where I grew up. I was quite depressed for a seven year old. I had two main things that worried me. I was struggling with the concept of my mother hating me - the child - maybe because I was female and a threat in her mind to her position in the home and in fact I think she despised me from early infanthood because I somehow challenged her importance as the only bride of  three brothers in a large country grazing concern. I was not the only person she despised in the family. She hated my father's older brother and was not fond of my grandmother. My grandfather who died when I was three weeks old, she depicted as an angel and that my father was the image of him. I think back on how she spoke about them and especially my Uncle and it so wrong. This feud has carried on until today from the fifties and she is nearly ninety(in December).
The second was the holocaust and the murder of millions of Jews by German Nazis. My uncles as did my father had lots of literature and books about this and I was a quite voracious reader and read quite a few of them until my grandmother realised I was getting nightmares from these books and locked them away. I was also reading about the Japanese treatment of POWs and the Burma rail. The cruelty of some human adults bothered me greatly. I did not know we had Jewish ancestory until much later on in life. When I tried to question my mother about what she did to try and save Jews in Austria, she brushed my questions aside and told me not to read nonsense. We never talked except that she was always criticising me or belittling. So different to my grandmother, my father and my Uncle Dick. They actually talked with you and treated you like a person whose views mattered. With my mother, I always felt I was some sort of absolute nuisance and a pest.
Anyway as I was sitting on the verandah quite close to tears after yet another belittling and session of criticism by my mother, I received a most remarkable insight into the condition of humans. I literally felt an amazing presence of light and power that instinctively I knew no one else was aware of it.  I felt enclosed in this light and power and protected by an invisible force. It was beyond comprehension of human mind to actually form a picture of what it was.  It was as if nothing else mattered in the world but to have complete trust in that power.  I have had that feeling several times since in my life and also it has warned me of things but not in words.
Once many years ago in 1979 I was at a point of deep despair and was working as a house matron in a Church of England Grammar School in Toowoomba in Queensland. One of my duties was to take the girls to  a Church down not far from the school. They were walked down by myself and a teacher. I felt incredibly depressed by my family situation. I had wanted to spend some time at home but was not allowed to as my mother hated having me at home in the house. That emotion I have felt since early childhood and only after my father died did that feeling change to some degree, but only because I was of some use to her or had potential for us by her.
Anyway I entered this church and was immediately overcome by a feeling of how wrong this place was and how wrong what it represented was. It was not the first time I had had this feeling. In fact the first time I entered a church or chapel, I was overcome by a wave of absolute revulsion. There behind what was an altar was a man nailed on a wooden cross with a head of thorns and bleeding from his hands and feet where he was nailed. It was gruesome. It was a perversion. Unfortunately the Christian church has as its object of worship a man who was an Orthodox Jew several thousand years ago and they have perverted what this man taught which was in essence Jewish Orthodox belief and they have persecuted and reviled his family and his co-religionists in a most insane manner throughout the centuries. Both Islam and Christianity take their basic doctrines from Judaism but they have perverted and added to them. Once I was out of this church I vowed then and there that I should never ever go back inside a church for any reason what so ever. I would prefer death to that.
My dislike of Christianity has been further enhanced by my experiences of being bullied by a fundamentalist Christian principal at a school in Country NSW and also the librarian who I believe was quite insane in her desire to try and get me to give up my son so she could 'save his soul' and 'have him baptised and brought up in a christian home with christian values.'  She and he both felt that as a single mother I was just another slut with a personality disorder and therefore unsuitable to bring up a child. Also I was older.

Anyway where is this leading to? Despite the fact that they tried to destroy my career and me as a person because of my Jewishness, I feel blessed that G-D gave me such a test of faith. How much easier it would have been to let them have their way and to just give in and commit suicide like they were suggesting and driving me towards such an act by their treatment of me. But I believe in G-D and there is more ways to torture a person than through the physical mistreatment. To belt someone is not half as bad as emotional maltreatment.  Getting a belting, you recover from, but getting emotional batterings it is much harder to recover from unless you have faith in a Divine Power that drives the Universe.
Where is this all leading to? On Yom Kippur we are called on to access that Divine Power and ask for forgiveness for our failings and shortcomings and to reach up to G-D to cry out and to crave to the depths of our souls for a connection with the unknowable, the divine that goes beyond our limited comprehension. G-D asks of us to go beyond our limits and to have perfect and utter trust in all that He gives us in the year. The tests depend on us. He will take us beyond what we previously perceived our limits to be, if we allow it and if we strive. We pray and pray and reflect on how to be a better person and because 'SHEMA O'ISRAEL, HASHEM our G-D,  HASHEM is ONE' we should have no fear of anyone or anything, except for G-D!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Day of Reckoning is upon us once again in less than an hour

G'mar Chatima Tova! Tzum kal le coollum! A year of blessings, health, wealth and simchot to you all out there fasting and davening. The others well you work out with Hashem how you do and remember there is a price on every thing. Mitzvot or aveirot! It depends on whether you are paying or being paid and on what you have done or achieved or tried to achieve during the year. Have a good Yom Kippur and Shabbat shalom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Close Friends and enemies

There is a knife edge

Between holy and unholy

In some instances,        

In some situations.

When one who desires something

You have, they cannot ever have,

Then they would harm you

By drawing ever closer to you

They kiss you ever so cleverly and gently

On your cheek

With loving hatred

They begin to destroy you little by little.

She asks you for a favour

Paid, of course,

You think like the fool, and

Turn yourself upside down.

Believing you are valued,

You do her bidding

Only to find

They have slipped the knife

Neatly and cleanly between your ribs,

Inside your guts.

Then, they have enjoyed the sensation

Of twisting it several times,

Between organs

Feeling a delicious joy at each turn of the blade,

They leave you bleeding

On the pavement

Waiting perhaps a few seconds

To watch you gasp for breath.

She does not have time to see

You die because she has other scores

To even out in the scheme of things.

She is fearless, completely

Because she is her own G-D

In the scheme of things

You realise she has hated you for forty years

Or more and indeed, never was a friend

In the true sense of the word.

Because she understood how

To manipulate a situation

To kill your unborn child

And you too, she would have killed,

But the time was not ripe.

She learnt her craft well

Bidding her time,

She maimed and hurt

 In so many other ways

Secure in the secret knowledge

Of Hatred held deep inside.

You who are afraid to believe

That someone could hide so much

That someone could hate so much


Because there are some who hold to nothing.

No love will assist them

Out of the pit they are in

They are at one with the snakes

They are at one with the scorpions

And other poisonous things
that slither and twist down there

Because they pretend to care.

For a few coins they will kill you

Whether you are spouse, brother

Sister, mother or father and for some

Even a child is their victim

For they do not differentiate

Between acts of holiness

Between the acts of unholy sources

They can twist and deceive

More effectively

Then any unknown person

Because they do know you

And what hurts you.

Be they friend or family.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

lessons in Living and TRUST G-D and try to live well.

During the past ten years or so in my life, even the last twenty years, I have had some steep learning curves. The past year and this present New Year have been no exception.

My latest lesson in life concerns not putting one’s own life in danger and thus one’s family in order to pay an old debt and it is also about honour and respect for others and knowing that everything happens for reasons known only to the power that guides us all. We should not trust in our fellow humans, but be guided by what is right and what should be.

It starts with an old debt that I owed someone, because I had to borrow money to pay for a get. This person went guarantor and I was working at the time. It was around $2,500 I think in 1992. I borrowed from a Credit Union at a fairly good rate of interest and there was no problem with the repayments for several years until I was overseas in Israel and not working. I should have paid it off before I left. That was my first mistake. Anyway to cut a long story short, I defaulted and my friend had to pay out money and received a bad credit rating. I never intended to happen.  I felt horrified. Also around the late nineties a parent died who the friend was very close to this parent and friend blamed me for the parent’s death as the parent and friend had argued about the debt and later then the parent died of a heart attack.

I felt very bad about this and when I was back in Australia I attempted to pay back some of the money and it was close to $5,000 because there was interest and legal fees.  I was also dealing with some difficult situations with my now ex-husband at the time. I was also pregnant and dealing with a very anti Semitic principal in Narrandera and my own father had died, I was dealing with disputes in my family and petty jealousies and a very anti Semitic sister in law whom I was really glad lives in America, not Australia.

Later when I was bullied out of teaching after a transfer to a school run by a Principal who was an old colleague and a good mate of the Narrandera principal, I came down to Melbourne in an effort to try and heal, get work and get on with my life. I had very little to do with the friend except for a rather abusive phone call 15 minutes before the Jewish Shabbat came in and when the friend would not listen to me that we should continue this conversation at another time, I wished this person ‘Shabbat Shalom’ and said ‘We have to discuss this, but not now.’ and then hung up. I did not blame the person who had every right to feel hurt. I also heard back through mutual acquaintances and friends that it was being put about that I owed this person $10,000 and then it was $20,000. I spoke to the person recently about this and the comment I received was that when a Sandfly bites you, you often say it is worst than it is.

Anyway just recently, I had a phone call and this person asked me to do some editing. We agreed on a price and the bulk of the money $1,500 was to go towards the old debt. I was to receive $500 in cash and there was an offer of a bonus of $250 as it was quite pressured. I even put some of my work at school aside to do this. I saw it as a sign from Hashem that I could kill two birds with one stone. Pay back an old debt and to earn some money towards rent before the New Year. There is an hourly rate for editing and there is a page rate. We agreed on a page rate, rather than an hourly rate.  I now know over the last few days that this friend had no intention of paying me money.

I worked for around 25 to 30 hours on this text and did grammatical editing, as well as editing for meaning and clarity on sentences that were awkward or lacked specific meaning. Often the author knows what it means, but the meaning is obscure or hidden from other readers. Also the document was single spaced and I was told to leave the mark ups as “I have paid heaps for that mark-up” and to do mine in different colour. I did so and then was told it was too difficult as the person was dyslexic and to do it simply as a word document and so it went on. My big mistake was not to set out a formal contract which I am sure this person may not have agreed to because then the person would have been bound by the contract. Instructions changed from day to day and I re-edited and kept my cool when said person was obviously not cool and I focussed on getting the work done. I did work to the dead line which was originally my deadline as given. I had the whole text done on the Tuesday before Rosh Hashana as my original deadline was 30th of September. That would have been impossible as Rosh Hashana started on the 28th of September.  However the person wanted this much done on the weekend before school broke up and I was trying to juggle school, child and this editing commitment at the same time. So I did what I could.

The person was happy that I had finished the work with a few hitches before hand and finally we got it all in on the Tuesday, well before the original deadline. I was not worried about the money coming in because I thought this person is a friend and she must understand how difficult it is to be a single parent and that I have been in very severe financial straits since I was bullied out of teaching.  Anyway I trusted rather too quickly. When I asked for the money I was ignored and when I asked again I was wished a Gamar  Chatima Tova and at my latest request when I outlined the difficulties I will face without money like homelessness and possible eviction from my flat, but by the same token I do not have hard feelings against the person whether they pay or not, I was thanked for my wisdom and I could feel the smirk behind the email. When you are confronted with someone who is acting in an intensely evil way despite what they should be doing, you have to be calm and trust that G-D will help you. It is a lesson in patience and faith.  Even if I am to end up on the street with my son and nothing in my pocket it is a true lesson in faith ultimately. In order to really understand G-D one must have no attachment to material possessions except for the connivances that they present in order to fulfil the will of G-D. Torah is the ultimate guide and I remember one day at this Christian boarding School St Margarets in Brisbane when I was twelve and they constantly got me to write out whole tracts of bible, the King James Version and I refused to believe in JC thus refused to write out New Testament. Instead, I wrote out psalms and tracts of the Old Testament because that was far more interesting and had deeper wisdom than some repetitive ramblings by a bunch of confused and disorientated followers of a Jew who was crucified by Roman soldiers. I also identified strongly with the book of Job.  The Old Testament remained with me to the extent that at my new boarding School in Warwick I was the only senior student who did not read the Bible to the school in my Year. I think they knew I was not a Christian even though I went to a Christian School. I was considered to have strange ideas and to dabble in blasphemy. How that came about is another story not relevant to this one.

To end off – in my haste to pay off my debt to this person, I have jeopardised my home with my son and I know that I know have the tricky task of trying to placate a real estate agent knowing I will be nearly ten days late with all my rent.  I must make everything formal and invoices. Even then it will not protect me against such a person as this.  I think this person has some long standing jealousy or issues with me that go back years. I do not understand why. This person has always been financially stable and never had to worry about money. I, on the other hand, have had ups and downs financially and trouble managing finances for the past five years while being unemployed and even before, I have never been a good money manager. I hate dealing with money and prefer to earn it and let others manage it.

We live and we learn.