Sunday, January 29, 2012

Raising children and teaching children


Raising a child or children is a demanding business. It always has been.  Some of us are not up to the task and are better off remaining single without children to hinder their lifestyle.  Many of us relish the challenges and the completeness of personal growth that the joys and challenges child rearing brings. It requires sacrifices that are often unfathomable for a single person. We want the best for our child and more than anything else we want them to turn out to be decent human beings as the end result. Teachers are also required to make sacrifices but while their goals are similar to the parents, they are coming from a more distanced perspective. Many teachers are parents too and they realize what the goals of good and involved parents are, but at the end of the day, the students are not their children. They should be able to go home at the end of the day to focus on their own families and their own children.

As both a teacher and a parent, it irks me when parents tend to blame teachers for the ills of today’s society as though it is the sole responsibility of the Education Departments  and their staff to turn out responsible and caring citizens of the next generation. Wrong. While the teachers and Education departments have a major role in the completing the education of a child, it starts at home. The home is the foundation of a child’s perspectives and values later in life.
You cannot and should not expect to live your life at home without the values and ethics that are espoused in any good educational institution. Children very quickly pick up on the hypocrisy of the family that says one thing and does another. If you want your child to be honest, hardworking and ethical - you must live those values and demonstrate them at home. The school will reinforce and support the ethos of the home or one would hope they would do so.
I have had numerous people from different walks of life at my table over the years. Only the facts that we are in a very small flat with limited space and of limited financial means, stops me from extending invitations to people for Shabbat or Yom Tovim. I am tolerant of people but intolerant of certain behaviours and dress to an extent. I do not want someone at my shabbes table who is dressed in short sleeves and short skirt or pants unless I can see that they really are ignorant of my dress code and then I am forgiving and tolerant to a point. As a teacher one is tolerant in order to teach and in fact far more tolerant than a parent should be. A parent controls the foundations of a child's psyche and life for the future. The expectations of a dress code would not and should not be relaxed for a moment in the case of a family member. Family members know what is expected of them and familiarity should not breed contempt for the rules of ones parents.
All too often in this modern world, we are too relaxed with our children and then we expect teachers to pick up the pieces and play big Mummy or Daddy. Kids have only one mum or dad and they are the ones that set the tone. Yes, teachers can and do influence for the better we hope, but the real buck stops or should stop with the parents and family.

A Leap of Faith

A leap of Faith

Getting married requires such leap of faith for both parties as to be almost unbelievable when you think about it. Two parties from different families with different mixes of personalities and often very different backgrounds; even if they are raised in the same faith as we would hope with two Jewish halves of a one neshama  finding each other, requires an enormous amount of trust in Hashem’s power and benevolence and mercy.

I want to tell a story about two people which always affects me so much that I feel almost teary whenever  I think about it. You have a holocaust where people suffered enormous harm physically, emotionally and psychologically. Whole families ripped away and slaughtered often before the horrified eyes of survivors. People who had to witness unfathomable acts of cruelty by human beings on others and often experienced them in the case of Mengele’s twins. Often there was only one survivor of extended families, let alone immediate families. 

There was a man who had lost all his family and he was in a transit camp in some part of Europe. He decided obviously to make a step in a very positive direction. He went to the section where the young women holocaust survivors were. Apparently the story goes something like this. He knocked on the door of the hut and said to the young woman who opened the door, ‘I need a wife. Will you marry me?’ She apparently did not hesitate but said ‘Yes, I will.’ They came to Australia and built a new life and raised eight wonderful children and have many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

That courageous step forward requires a leap of faith on the part of the man and the woman. Sometimes fear can rule our lives and we are afraid to move forward. Whether it is to move on from the ashes of the holocaust and darkness of destruction into the light of a new life or to move on from the warm and cosy family of our childhood into a new life with a virtual stranger but not really as we must trust Hashem that he puts us with our other half, and to create our own family and home, it requires courage and a whole new lease on life. It requires one to leap into the future trusting in Hashem and believing that all is for the best, even if it is difficult to make that transition and sometimes it is not easy for a choson to open the emotional door and say ‘I need a wife. I need my other half. Will you marry me?’ just as it is not easy for the kalla to say,’ Yes, I will.’ In other words, ‘You are my other half and I accept and trust that Hashem is putting us together for a holy purpose.’ Too often young men and women are bound or restricted by other concerns that perhaps have little to do with whether that person will be a good partner in life, a husband or wife and it requires going back to a leap of faith that calls each of them to step out of their comfort zone and to just be there at the moment and to grasp it. Despite all that has gone before, we must grasp the moment and leap into the future and understand that Hashem has put us in this time and space for a moment and all we have to do it to recognise it and take advantage of it.

To be cynical and to lack hope is to acknowledge the other side the darkness of despair and to allow it to take over our destiny and not the light of understanding given us by Hashem. We deny positive possibilities only because we have allowed the negative to take precedence in our lives. Everything we have and are is for a purpose. We just have to acknowledge it as so and to go with the flow.

Poverty - what is it?

Poverty is often relative to the situation and perspective of the people who are suffering it. People down to their last million could cry poverty. I remember an aunt of mine who actively loathed me, once remarked as we were getting into a lift. 'Poor A and C. (her younger son and his wife) they live in such poverty, such abject poverty.' Now they owned their own house and they were both working and sending their daughters to private schools. If that is poverty bring it on. I would love to be that impoverished.
Poverty for some people is not being able to afford cigarettes and drink. I don't smoke and I don't drink barely at all, so I do not feel the lack of these addictions. Poverty is for some not going to Bali this year on their yearly holidays. Poverty is staying in Australia for this long holidays.

Poverty for me is thinking about what food you need to buy and how are you going to buy, when your rent is nearly all your pension, and you have a child to keep and to educate. Poverty is not having enough petrol to get to the RTA to re register your car and the money to pay rego.Poverty is not buying new clothes ever. Poverty is having friends continually shouting you to the movies and you not being able to afford to return the favour.
Poverty is not having anyone to bounce off and tell your troubles to and do you really want to when  it is all bad.
Poverty is having to tell your child that football is not possible perhaps this year as you just can't afford it. Poverty is not being able to afford anything and to look at life as though there is now no longer a future for yourself and your son.
Once I believed I was in a job that I did well and my wage could only go up. I believed despite taking a king hit while pregnant with my son and facing discrimination at a school, I would be ok because I worked hard and did my job well. I reckoned without understanding the divisiveness of those who sought to pull me down a peg or two just because I had had a baby at an advanced age and I was a single parent (not by choice) therefore because I was not going to make myself available to men at demand, I was a 'man hater' and therefore a threat to them for reasons known only to them.
Poverty is trying to raise a child in your late fifties with little or no income and trying to give him a good start in life when you have been thrust onto a pension and the employment scrap heap.
Poverty is not even being able to see your mother for more than five years through lack of income and just plain unable to do so.
Anyone need a good copywriter? Anyone need an editor or an English teacher?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Orit - a new light in the darkness

We interviewed Leah Adler of Pe'ula Action for Israel on our Melbourne Jewish Women's Show on Lion for this week's show and had an email with good news re Puah Palmer who so tragically lost her husband and young son last year. She has given birth to a baby girl and the girl's name is Orit.  May she bring light into the darkness, nachat to her mother and family and be raised in Torah, to Chuppa and Ma'asim Tovim.
Here is the web side for Pe'ula. Leah is articulate and a very knowlegeable guest and well worth hearing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Marriage rites

Sitting at the pool yesterday watching  my son I had a flash of inspiration.  Here it is. A new poem in progress. It needs refining but we are working on it.


Boy meets girl
emotional sparks
love or lust
time will tell.
They hold hands
They kiss
then it is hit or miss
Boy will say
Girl will say
'Let's make it formal'
True blue love
Before all and G-D
We want everyone to know
What we have is holy
Let's marry and vow
To carry each other
With G-D's help
Through each day
To create a family
With a mate, to bring
Children into this world.
With love and honesty
To raise them to have
Compassion and strength
To carry on traditions
From generations past
A chain of belief
In the greater good
As a member of a wider community
we realise that
Some are different
either by choice or design
And that is ok too, but just not the norm
For the standards that we all conform
and hope that our child does too.
Because when
boy meets boy
girl meets girl
In the dark
It lacks an essential spark
Of light created
Between a man and a woman
Then when friendship
Is based on lust
And not trust,
All becomes dust
which has substance
But is sterile stuff
But lacks the holy spark
A night without day
A union recognised
It is true,
but not as right as when
Man meets woman
To continue
The work of a divine
Creator being
In the fruit of the union.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

leeds: Nobody wants to be responsible anymore

leeds: Nobody wants to be responsible anymore: B'H Today in our me orientated society; often no one wants the responsibility of another person either young or old. It is all about me...

Nobody wants to be responsible anymore


Today in our me orientated society; often no one wants the responsibility of another person either young or old. It is all about me and not about you or others.  There have been glaring examples of this failure to take responsibility. For example, in our Glen Eira Council area there are several playgrounds that have had the fences removed from around the children’s playgrounds, because the council wants the parents to ‘take responsibility’ for their children. That is not what you and I mean by responsibility.
As a result the playground at Greenmeadows Park was improved  and upgraded in some ways and totally impoverished in others. It used to be a playground that young religious mothers could bring children to play and they gain a much needed breathing space. Often these women have four or five children under five years of age (school age) and it was a welcome relief to come to the park and there was a child proof fence around the play area and they could sit and relax secure in the knowledge that their youngsters could not wander into danger. It kept kids confined and safe as well as added to the security of the mothers and fathers who would bring their children down there. Yes, fathers do bring their children to the park to give the mothers a much deserved break. Judaism is not as patriarchal biased as some would have us believe.  Men do share in the caring of children and even the housework to support wives.

When I rang the council to find out why the fence had been removed, I was told it was to force parents to take responsibility for their children. I listened to the tirade from this young woman on the other end at the council and asked the all important question – do you have children? She replied in the negative and there you have it. She knew all about parents who ‘did not take responsibility for their kids though’. It was perhaps more than just mean spirited of the council, but rather dictatorial and judgmental of some councilors connected to the town planning to make that decision and to penalize those who have large families in the Glen Eira community.

For that matter, these people do take responsibility for their children’s spiritual, material and physical welfare to a much greater extent than say those who are into alcohol and drugs or overseas holidays rather than their children’s education and welfare. These people do care what sort of adults their children will become. What a chutzpah to say they we believe you are not taking responsibility for your children and you do not deserve a break occasionally and you must watch your child every minute - you cannot have a break. Many kids are easier to manage, but some kids can suck the energy out of you like vacuum pump on full power.

I was at the pool today getting my child to release his endless reserve of energy racing around the pool for a couple of hours and we take a short walk afterwards. I was told that I should not be reading as my child was my responsibility and that lifeguards are not baby sitters. I was quite taken aback as I was catching up on some writing. I knew where my son was in the pool in front of me. There were some other mothers also reading or text messaging but I was the only one spoken to about my child who was indeed not doing anything the other kids were not doing. The comment about the baby sitter irked me. For to be honest, no one has ever imagined that a lifeguard is a baby sitter. If they were, we would all be at home or in a café having coffee or catching up on the cleaning or house work.
Then there was a young girl with cerebral palsy who was struggling up the stairs out of the  pool and the lifeguard went to help her. My son had gone over and was watching fearfully because I think he was worried that she was alright. While I watched her struggle, I was admiring of this young woman’s courage. She, with the lifeguard’s assistance, clambered into her motorized wheelchair and motored off. The lifeguard remarked, ’She should really have a carer with her.’ His remark shocked and saddened me. Here was this young girl striving for independence despite her handicap and he was going to have it curtailed. People who may not be so able to move freely as the majority of us, can cope independently so long as the rest of us are sensitive to their needs and are caring and do not make them feel like cripples or condescending when they proffer help. It might be just to offer an arm to support her out of the pool as I did later when she returned to the pool. All this girl needs is for some sensitive aware human being to reach out an arm or hand and help her stand and then be there to steady her as she makes her way to the motorised wheelchair.

Such a young girl who is a sufferer of a condition that makes life very difficult for her as a young person feels different enough already.  She cannot do the things that other young people do with the freedom of movement that they have. Why should she have to have a carer hanging around her  every minute of the day. Yes, for a few hours it might be necessary to have someone assist with things where it is needed, but this girl looked like she enjoyed being in the pool by herself and feeling halfway to normal. We, those around her can help if we can see that she needs it but she should not have to have a carer if she can manage with minimal assistance.
I watched her face as she luxuriated in the water at the shallow end of the children's pool and I could see such joy and happiness there. She was relaxing. Often people with a physical challenge like cerebral palsy just want to be like everyone else and feel free to just be. The biggest gift we can give them as one human being to another is to allow them to be free to have a little independence. It means you the other person is aware to help them just enough so they don't feel you are patronising and you acknowledge their abilities and humanity. After you, but for the grace of G-D there go you or I. Think about it because we are our brother or sister's keeper whether we like to acknowledge it or not.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Names - Do they have an effect on the person?

Names are interesting and I have always been interested in names and their meanings. My name at birth, I always loathed. I hated it even more when I asked my mother what it mean and she told me it meant 'Bubble' in German. I remember at five, thinking what sort of name is that and why would you call a daughter 'bubble'. I hated it even more when I looked it up in a book of names and its meaning was set out as 'Barbarian' or 'strange one' or 'stranger.' I hated my name for years so much so that when I went to boarding school I gave myself a nickname 'Jinx' because I felt I had been JINXED by my name. It repulsed me.
Later in 1980 I changed my names around because I much prefered my second name 'Eileen' which means 'desired' or 'light' or 'pleasant'. I was very happy with the name Eileen and only later changed my name completely by deed poll when I became formally Jewish Orthodox and took a Hebrew name Ilana which means tree. It is very similar in some ways to Eileen. So in a way, I feel Ilana is very similar to Eileen and I have always felt very comfortable with Ilana. It fitted me and my personality and who I am.
I never felt comfortable with 'Barbara'. Barbara is fine for Barbara Steinsand or other famous Barbaras like Barbara Cartland etc etc but the name Barbara never fitted me. I always felt happier when people did not refer to me as that name. Ironically, my mother took it as a personal rejection, the fact that I did not like the name. It sort of typified our relationship through out my life. You do not like the name I gave you therefore you have rejected me. I once has a young Israeli girl in a class I was teaching in Israel. She came in and announced that her name was no longer Chagit but it was now Orit ( I actually cannot remember the name she changed it to, but Orit will do for now). I was surprised and asked her after the class why she had changed from Chagit and I started to say, but Chagit is such a lovely name and then I stopped myself. When she had finished I simply said, 'I understand why. You felt for years that your name did not suit who you were?' She looked at me in surprise and said 'Yes. How did you know?' I shrugged and then told her my story about my name and we laughed. Some times parents do get it wrong. The thing is to admit it.
My mother once said to me about six months after the birth of my son,'What sort of name is Nir?' I explained the meaning and then she told me,'AHHH I bet you will scream blue murder if he wants to change his name when he grows up?'
'No,' I replied,'once he grows up and if he honestly does not like the name, I want him to be happy with a name that he feels comfortable with using and being known by.' I mean that. If my child honestly feels not comfortable with the name I gave him at his birth then he should change it to something he feels fits him.
What brought about this post? Well I was in centrelink yesterday and I was asked by one of their clerks 'what name are you using now?'
It lists on my form all my married names and my birth name. I think they think I am into alias and suspect that I have secret names and businesses everywhere.
I have been known only as Ilana Yael Leeds for many years. My birth certificate had for a while Alana Yael because the clerk who transcribed the deed poll made a mistake which I had to pay to get rectified some years afterwards.
That is another thing, there are variations of the same name with spelling. Ilana can be Elana, Alana, Alannah, Ellena, Ilanit, Ilanna, Ellanna and the variations go on and on. It is all in a name, isn't it?
I love names and their meanings. What is the story of your name?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gay Rams and more Gay Bull – roles, rites and their rights

This whole issue of same sex marriage rites is really becoming quite tiresome. For many years now, same sex couples have enjoyed rights equivocal to those afforded de facto heterosexual couples and they have had their relationships treated with respect and given the benefits that are given not only to heterosexual couples but also married couples. But is this enough for the Gay and Lesbian and other Bisexual and Transgender mob. No. They want more and more and more. They want to have their unions blessed the same as heterosexual couples, by the rite of marriage.  It is an interesting concept, this right, isn’t it? We forget that with the rite of marriage comes a responsibility to honour and respect the union of a man and a woman before G-D. So if you are an atheist, marriage rites should not really be an issue. You don’t believe in G-D and therefore should see no valid reason to have your union sanctified anyway. Apart from the fact that it is about honouring the union of a man and a woman who are made in G-D’s image and the union of a man and woman celebrates the procreativity that is only possible between a man and woman coming together , not two men and not two women. There is a feminine element needed and there is the masculine element needed. Let me give you an example from my country girl background.

Years ago I watched my father putting harnesses on rams with a blue or red raddle stick attached. Raddle is like a chalk block and the purpose for this is as follows. You are able to ascertain from the marks of the raddle the ewes that have been straddled. You can also tell from the wearing down of the raddle stick on each ram how well he has worked the flock of ewes. Woes betide the ram whose raddle stick remained intact, or if he has been seen to straddle only his fellow rams. He usually ends up minus his reproductive potential in with the wethers (castrated male sheep) whose main role is to grow wool for a few years and then off to the meat works to become lamb chops or stew.

There is some interesting material and research has been done on the brains of male gay sheep which shows some distinct similarities to gay human males.

However the fact remains that while they are afforded every respect and the rights to humane and gentle care as well as feed and water, as much as any other sheep in the flock, they are no longer put with the ewes but allowed to run with the wethers for a year or two. That is a male only environment usually. There seems little purpose in them being in with the breeding stock in the paddocks allocated for such purposes.

The same goes with gay bulls and rams. I think studs might offer replacement animals if some of their livestock turn out to be gay. I have had a bit of trouble doing the research on that one. One young lass I spoke to from a NSW stud had a thirty minute conversation with me when I had only intended it to be five minutes on the phone. ‘Do you have some stud rams that turn out to prefer their other rammy friends?’ ‘Yes. Sometimes.’  ‘What do you do? ‘‘We ring the buggers and put them out with the wethers and let them become wool growers.’ This was the sort of conversation I had expected to have. Instead I had this rather intense and quite deeply probing question and answer interview which was a megilla (long drawn out story) in and of itself. I was asked if I was angry about homosexuals and did I fear homosexuals.(????) When I answered negative to both those questions, I do not think this lass believed me. There I was informed about the ‘sensitive and caring way they deal with their sheep and livestock and how they do not cut the tails on their lambs and have stopped mulsing their sheep and because of the ‘change in attitude towards their sheep they have less flystrike. ‘  I must be honest here. I thought she was pulling my leg and I finally told her that she needed to attend to her kid and I would attend to mine.

By the way the acreage this girl was talking about was 16,000 acres of probably prime Goulburn breeding pastures which she informs me that they run up to 25,000 sheep. Quite possible that they can keep a watch on their breeding stock in such a small area and handle the stock far more intensely than in say a larger area of 60,000 plus acreage. I could see we were going nowhere with the concept of no mulsing and organic dips and leaving the tails on lambs. In some areas of Australia that is just not going to be possible or practical. Maybe I am old fashioned but I am sure no grazier is going to risk his stock to prove them wrong. There are some places with five or six paddocks or more the size of their whole NSW property. In fact I am now wondering after the conversation that I had with this lass whether she was really have a feed at my expense.

Here is an interesting article.

Now how does this relate to gay males and females of the human species? Easy, it does occur naturally but by the same token we should not call it the same as marriage between a man and a woman. It is a deviation from the norm and it involves conscious choices in behaviour. I may decide to become a Buddhist monk and go and shave my head, pray constantly and live an ascetic life of prayer and mediation. But by so doing, I am not going to have kids, I am not going to marry and other things. I can not marry or I cannot have my cake and eat it too.

Simply put if you have a bolt and a nut you can join them together and they connect in a way that only a nut and bolt can and form a union of two parts with an important function by virtue of the fact that they connect. You cannot have the same connection with two bolts and two nuts.  It just doesn’t work the same way, does it?  The same sex issue is a non issue.

I have included a sample of an imagined conversation between Michael Barnett of Aleph Australia and myself.

MB: Oh so here we have Ilana Leeds enemy of homosexuals with her war on homosexuals. How’s your f#*king kennel cough BITCH? I hope it kills you.’

He stands his hands on hips tapping his Nike shoe against the pavement.  Ilana steps back a step or two because she detects a hint of steam arising from Michael and is not sure whether he has been working out too hard in the gym or he is just about to blow a gasket being in such close proximately to the worst enemy that the world’s gay community could ever hope to have – an unrepentant supporter of heterosexuality.

IYL: Michael, I am not sure why you are such an angry young man or middle aged man. If you are secure in yourself and your relationship, surely you do not need to be married to prove your love for your male partner? After all what do you really want? Is it attention or is it just to have what others in heterosexual marriages have, without the other responsibilities that it involves?

MB: You are a homophobic moron, Leeds. Apart from your obsession with bestiality. You just don’t get it do you? There is a great spiritual lack in our relationship without a marriage ceremony. We need fulfilment and for our union to be sanctified just like any heterosexual couples do. We feel discriminated against because we can’t have what they have. Are you so insane that you do not see that?

IYL: Do you believe in G-D Michael?

MB: Answer my question first, bitch.

IYL: (Gently and speaking really softly and soothingly reassuring) Michael, it is really important that you do answer my question first which will lead us up to the most important point of all this.  Do you believe in G-D?

MB: No, not in your version of G-D. Maybe there is G-D but it is not your G-D. (Michael cannot help himself. He is intrigued, as after all he desires love and happiness and above all to be accepted and loved.)

IYL: Michael, I don’t own G-D. I don’t even have copyright on G-D. G-D is for all of us and G-D made man and woman in its image for a purpose.  Do you know what that purpose is Michael?

MB: (Looking aghast and unsure of how to answer this.) And you vicious homophobe, what is your point?  You vile hateful individual, you despoiler of young gay youth. You denier of their sexuality. What is your f**king point?

IYL: Michael I am saying is that no one is perfect and we all have to struggle with ourselves in different ways and on different levels. However marriage is for a man and a woman who want their union sanctified legally and it bestows certain rights and recognition in communities and in society. Some people believe marriage is only a piece of paper and that the real soul mate connection and union is above that physical act of signing a document before a marriage celebrant or a JP. Marriage is for a man and a woman because it blesses two people – one a man and one a woman who come together for a holy purpose or it should be holy and that is to create a house and a home based on opposites as set out in Torah. A woman is set opposite her mate, a male in order to oppose him and to help him form himself into a complete whole as he does her. When those two people come together they bring into a being a divine spark that can result in new life and a new individual being created. They become partners in the act of creation. Can you honestly say Michael that can happen with two men or with two women coming together? There Michael I rest my case. And further more I am not denying that there is real love between you and your partner or that of any same sex couple, but I am saying it is frankly and sadly a sterile union when compared to the beauty depth and passion of the union between a man and a woman who truly and honestly love one another and are married through truth and that truth is sanctified through a marriage ceremony.

MB is speechless with anger and surprise. He breaks down and cries. Ilana kindly offers him a tissue from the box she has brought along to dry her own tears at Michael’s plight and that of other gay people who are unable to unfortunately participate in marriage as a rite for it is simply put only for a man and woman to join together and not for same sex couples.

For those who want a bit of interesting reading on gay sheep it is quite well documented as is homosexuality in the animal world. You have to worry about these scientists.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Differences between a terrorist and an activist are

An activist uses all means at his or her disposal to peacefully create calm and order out of chaos. A terrorist uses fear and anger to destroy order and to create chaos in order to achieve set aims.
An activist sees those around him or her as human beings. A terrorist does not see human beings only tools and pawns in the game.A terrorist has lost the ability to mourn the dead because his or her 'high' is the power of fear and the death and destruction they have caused.
An activist for any cause should be defensive, but it is a fine line between activism and terrorism. Lastly there is a little bit of the terrorist in every activist and a lot of the activist in each terrorist. That is what can make each such individual so dangerous if lines are crossed. . However a true activist attempts to bring about quiet revolution within the individuals that they come in contact with and build them up

This is an image of anger and hatred. The face is covered with a mask. There are no humanising features and it could be anyone. a man or a woman. It is a mask and anonymous. It is the face of a terrorist.

Now by contrast look at the face of the man below. An open inquiring face, friendly and the face of someone who connects with people. A man who is a scholar and whose love of life pours out through his eyes and the lines of his face are relaxed and friendly. He is or was rather a genuine warm friendly person. This person sought to build and to create, not to destroy. Yet he and most of his family were destroyed last year nearly twelve months ago by terrorists.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Defamation and Democracy


In Australian law, in theory, we are protected by the law against people who would seek to defame or misrepresent or besmirch our reputations in the work community and in society. This can work against us as in the case of Darryn Hinch - a man I do have intense admiration for. He went to jail for naming sex offenders on public radio. Now the law is a funny business when it is all said and done.
I am investigating the possibility of a defamation lawsuit and have to contact a person who is making it their business to deal with this sort of thing. I have been advised to to to Legal Aid by a left wing Law firm which is known nationally but they are also known for their support for a certain lobby group in society.

What is defamation?
The law is now fairly uniform across Australia and whether that is to my advantage or not remains to be seen.

The publication of any false imputation concerning a person, or a member of his family, whether living or dead, by which (a) the reputation of that person is likely to be injured or (b) he is likely to be injured in his profession or trade or (c) other persons are likely to be induced to shun, avoid, ridicule or despise him.
Publication of defamatory matter can be by (a) spoken words or audible sound or (b) words intended to be read by sight or touch or (c) signs, signals, gestures or visible representations, and must be done to a person other than the person defamed.

Here is a more detailed analysis if you need it.

There is a statue of limitations but I also will have to go down the path of a certain party having incited hatred towards me and my young son of 8 years old to such an extent as certain members of a lobby group would feel justified and doing harm to us. I have had again persons drive past my flat on a certain road in Caulfield and scream out 'Bigoted slut' and other 'endearing' epithets. Interesting and extremely worrying that my son has to be subjected to that sort of rubbish and even me.  Obviously we are dealing with quite deranged and demented people. I am glad, sincerely glad that some of the people from the homosexual communities that I have met through work or study or simply in all walks of life, have been on the whole quite rational human beings and good citizens. While I will not promote or support a gay life style, I will treat gay people or homosexuals with respect deserving of any human being. I remain unequivocally on the side of promoting male female heterosexual relationships and marriage as the ideal and healthiest lifestyle as is my right in a democratic society.

To call me a homophobic or blame me for the death of young gay peoples because I do not support gay marriage rights is both absurd and in fact cyberbullying when numerous posts and blogs are written with me as the main focus and the intent is one of malice and indeed disturbing malice that could cause harm to both myself and my young son for the obvious reasons. What boundaries do these people place on their behaviour? Obviously none what so ever.
This all started well over a year ago and has continued up to a few weeks ago. All very weird that one single parent has all this focus from the GLTGB community. On would think they had bigger fish to fry than harrassing more vulnerable members of society.

The Uniform Defamation Law requires that a plaintiff must commence proceedings for defamation within a year of publication or broadcast. However, courts may extend this to up to three years if the plaintiff can demonstrate there were good reasons why they could not start the action within a year.

We have the right in a democracy to voice our opinions and our beliefs, so long as they do not incite hatred or violence against another group of people. We can express ideas so long as those ideas do not cause harm to others. When we become autocratic and dictatorial and we believe only our views and our opinions are right and only our views must be give respect and space, then we are censoring all opinions except our own and are totally unbalanced in our approach to debate.
Some people are obviously not sublte enough to see that. They think censorship is all about their opinions and not about their censoring of what others say in a reasoned and sensible manner. Only very frightened and violently inclined people with no argument to back them, resort to such techniques. I focus on the argument rather than the person. That is all. the issue is respect and the rights of the individual to freedom of speech without harm to others.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It is all about the state of Israel and our love of fellow Jews

Lately what has happened in Israel has distressed me on many levels. We have this split between - not only religious and the secular, commonly known in Israel as the Dati and the Hiloni, but between various levels of religious observance among the Haredi communities or I should say some members of the Haredi community who have sought to embarrass their more learned and civilised peers and elders by behaving in an unorthodox trashy manner, and the Modern Orthodox stream of Judaism.
It pains me deeply on a very personal level, that I should and indeed any Jew should have to see such scenes take place in Israel - the land of the Jews - our holy state. How much blood has been shed for the state by men and women in the IDF and by others who settled the land and are still settling the land today and we are tearing at the fabric of the state. This has got to stop. Israel and Israelis need to come together and bond as a family and reflect on on individual differences and opinions and agree to disagree on some matters.
I am not calling for Haredi members to forgo their high standards of modesty or tzniut or glatt kosher or anything else. BUT as a Jew I am asking them to look at their practice of Ahavat Israel and their fellow Jew. On a personal level I keep kashrut that may be more difficult to observe than many want to keep, but by the same token, others may be far more strict, on some matters. Are we to become autocratic dictators of what is Judaism and only one opinion matters and that opinion must be law? What is the Talmud based on? Mishna and gemora - and how many opinions are expressed? Are not things debated? Have Jews become stupid that we have to brawl like our cousins down the road in Aza and use their methods to intimidate and bully and cow others into submitting to what we believe it the right way to do things. To use such methods that have been used here in the following links makes me what to weep tears of blood.This sort of behaviour allows the Hitlers and our little buddy with the ratty beard and mad eyes in Iran to win media allies and the ultra orthodox (and Israel ultimately) to lose them. It does nothing to promote Torah Judaism or its values and it is the biggest hillel Hashem (desecration of G-D's name) to behave in such a manner and call yourself an observant Jew. If you do such things as depicted in the following articles, I would prefer to hear about you taking off your kapote, cutting off your peyot, eating treif, and desecrating the Shabbes and yom tovim but still treating your fellow human beings with respect than to hear about observant Yidden behaving in such a wild undisciplined and frankly despicable manner. That sort of behaviour is not the way gentlemen and scholars, especially Torah scholars should behave or are expected to behave.

You hurt every Jew in the land of Israel with your behaviour and every Jew outside of Israel and outside of Yiddishkeit with your behaviour. I wish I could write this in Yiddish and Hebrew because this sort of behaviour has to stop if we are to stand united against the biggest threat we are to face as a nation. We have to start thinking with our kophs and not let our emotional rages over turn our commonsense.

Many years, I was on a kibbutz in Israel in 1986 up in the Galil. Very difficult year and I kept putting off a decision right to the end until I decided to follow what I knew I had to do ultimately for the sake of a future generation. Now I remember being quite horrified by many of the things that went on on the kibbutz because it was a very secular kibbutz and I arrived in Israel without a clear understanding of the differences between secular or hiloni Jews and the religious Jews. I naively (and it makes me smile rather sadly and much more wisely now) believed 'I am in Israel. The land of the Jews after 2000 years and we all love each other.' Got that. We ALL LOVE EACH OTHER. Oh boy, did I need an education on that one. I got it. And I am still getting it.
The first Shabbat I was in the kibbutz these guys and I won't name them because they could become ba'ala Tzuva and I would embarass them about their past behaviour, they did a skit which was highly uncomplimentary about the Ultra Orthodox in Me'ar Sharim burning down bus shelters because of pictures of women in scanty clothing being plastered on them. My reasoning was, OK, if the pictures are immodest, we should not have them there, and frankly I agreed with the Ultra Orthodox because I for many years I had found myself being quite disturbed by the trashing of women through their sexualisation in the media and advertising. When I expressed my dismay to my then boyfriend, he shrugged and said something like its all 'shteyot' or nonsense. When I expressed an opinion later to another member of the kibbutz, I met with a quite strident tirade about 'parasites' 'not serving in the army', 'in for a free ride' and freeloading, it went on. I gave that lady who was housemate a wide berth after that. I lit Shabbes candles and she almost had a fit and wanted me out of the house. She told me that her family in Haifa made a point of never ever lighting Shabbes candles because of the holocaust and I told her that because of the holocaust you should - just to give one to Hitler in his eye and any other anti semite.
Then when they bought in a soft core porn movie for the kibbutz members to watch in the Heder Ochel I was more than shocked. I was embarrassed and more than that, some members had their children present. I walked out with a girl and I will mention her name, Anita Steiner.  Anita and I went up to her Kibbutz house and had a coffee and a chat. My ex boyfriend also did not watch and I was very proud of him over that. He was and still is probably a very decent guy. His wife is a lucky woman and should continue to be so. I had good taste in ex boyfriends when I was not frum and bad taste in husbands - that is most likely the reasons I am divorced now. I used to believe that a good woman can make a bad man good and a bad woman can make a good man go bad. But now I think that the bad man has to have a thread of decency and respect for himself as to want to be good and to try to be good. An honestly bad person will never take up fully with a good person. If a person is a criminal and loves criminal behaviour too much, they will avoid all attempts to turn them to a better more Torah true life style. They will enjoy the excitement and the cheap thrills of their wild and un G-D like behaviour and they won't want to be Torah Jews or even just plain good people. They will enjoy the duplicity of their lifestyle and deception is exciting and a way to get thrills for them. Why do people not do the right thing? Because they are being naughty and it gives them some secret childish pleasure to deceive others and to think they are getting away with something. That is the way children think. The next level which is a little more sophisticated, is for them to think that they are getting away with it and that no one knows. They then try to justify their behaviour to themselves and to others. Now these guys in Beit Shemesh are obviously thinking "Hey we are Torah observant Jews and we are in the right. We keep kosher, Shabbes, Yom Tovim, halacha and we are right, always right.' Wrong. You are not right. You have disrespected your fellow Jews and you have furthermore created a massive  HILLEL HASHEM. All your Torah learning and all your study is for nothing if you can behave in such a manner towards your fellow Jew in the Land of Israel and to children. Is this the way that Torah Jews behave? Is this what you want to show the world? How educated and civilised religious Jews behave? The names of the sages - the tanaim, the amarim, the Torah and all it stands for have been desecrated. This is what makes  me most sad. That you abuse children, young sweet innocent children who look up to you. Is this the way you educate and what will their perceptions of the ultra orthodox Jewish world be in the future if this is the way the Ultra Orthodox Jews behave in the street. Not all of them, but you know how one or two bad apples can tarnish the whole barrel's image, especially if they are on top and as observant Jews you are on top of the Jewish world or meant to be and you need to live up to that image and do not tarnish it.

I have probably gone on too much and who will read this rant, but I feel good having said my piece of peace and if one person reaches out to the other and understands and creates peace than this blog will have achieved what I want. It starts with one small move, a hand shake between men and a nod of acknowledgement between women and taking small children across the dangerous road and leading them on to the pathways of peace for the future generations. We will have to learn to tread more softly and together. We want Moishiach now. Not tomorrow but right this minute. He is needed. Now more than ever.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One of those days

It has been one of those days. We all have them. You feel like it would be better if you stayed in bed, but you do not have the luxury of such. It is a day when you feel like nothing you do is right for you or your family.  We have to get through them though. We have to focus on what needs to be done, whether it is washing a floor, cooking a meal or just helping your child with some homework and doing the right thing by them.

To make matters worse, your child complains that he cannot sleep because of the traffic noise at night. There is nothing you or I can do about that. We cannot make the traffic stop unless we move out to the country and live on the outskirts of a country town. Then there are other disadvantages of isolation but maybe we are both bits of loners. He with his cars and once he learns to read properly he will become absorbed.

The high point was our walk to the park today and finding out that the pond where we go to feed the ducks and geese has had the “Do Not Feed The Birds’ sign removed and it is chockers full of carp or yellow belly fish. I want to find out if we can fish there. There were so many fish in a huge school looking for bread crumbs in the water from the ducks and geese.

Time to say some tehillim.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Melbourne Jewish Women's Show, Weather and the versatile nature of compote concoctions


Well Melbourne weather, as usual, it is full of changes. We started yesterday with pouring rain, fined up for a short while, then storms and rain and hail in some places, then it was fine with clear skies then rain again. It is quite exciting all this change and one does a fast turnaround in the wardrobe department because one never knows what one is supposed to wear or whether one should carry an umbrella and multi dress. You have heard of multi tasking, well Melbournians have to multi dress. It pays to start light and accessorise to protect oneself from the weather and dress for all occasions. Today again has been no exception.  Rain, sunshine and cloudy. We do not have yesterday's wind yet, but let's wait and see. Good Old Melbourne never yet disappoints.
The Melbourne Jewish Women's show is back on air at 1674 AM at 7pm and we are talking with Rabbi Braun a very talented Israeli born Chazan. He sings with his two twin sons and they are great. Beautiful voices all. We are very happy to be back on air.
Now let us talk about compote. Compote is a marvellous food for people of all ages. Especially for babies and for older people who may have teeth and gum problems. It is easily digestible as soup is.. As you can see above I have been experimenting with different flavours and textures of compote. The blended variety is better. I am also thinking of vegie compotes and a line of natural baby foods and a line of tasty spiced soups for people who like taste and zing in their food.
The compote on the left has peach and papaya pieces in it and the middle one in the round container is mainly apple and pear based with some banana and mango. The one on the right is mainly strawberry, a touch of banana and some apples and pears. I had to blend it first before I cooked it - hence the subtle colours and quite delicate flavours.
Just imagine getting people weaned off Hungry Jacks and Mac Donalds and Subway fast food and into the supermarkets to buy a pot of compote for lunch. You could  have natural healthy vegie compote for first course and then  finish off with a fruit compote. I have made so far around five different varieties of compote and I have given my son some of the strawberry for breakfast after his toast.  He was a bit resistant to the idea at first but enjoyed it once he had been convinced to taste it. It has loads of vitamin C and other trace elements which ensures a good start to the day. We are going to be eating a lot of compote in the next few weeks.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A lamed vav - one of the 36 Hidden Tzaddikim

I have just listened to this pure holy neshama speak and there is so much truth here, it is as though the light has been switched on. Much of what he is saying is so true and he is a 'simple' shepherd. The thing is that someone who lives so connected  to Hashem, Hashem's creations and the creative process has much wisdom and strength it shines a holiness that people may not see with their physical eyes, but they feel it. Darkness avoids the light or draws back from it.
I once sat across a room from a man (Arab) who had spent time in an Israeli prison for terrorist activity and this man was having a relationship with the daughter of an Israeli IDF general. I saw the way this man spoke to her and I grew angry inside. Here is a Jewish woman - an Israeli girl allowing herself to be treated so disrespectfully, I thought. I wanted to find out what made this man tick. What drives these people to kill themselves and in speaking to him, I touched on the darkness of his soul - so dark it was terrifying in its negative forces. I wanted to go from the flat but something made me stay and continue to question him about himself and his life. All of a sudden, I felt why should I be afraid. I am a Jew. Hashem will protect me and help me understand this mystery but I must not be afraid. When I left the flat I still did not understand, but there was a moment when I asked a question he looked at me and answered me and I did not like his question and I stared across at him and his hand that lifted his cigarette up to his mouth shook for a moment, then I knew he was afraid of me because Hashem put that fear into his mind. Those whose hearts are false fall away, their minds are like chaff and straw and are winnowed in the wind. We Jews we are the grains of wheat, the seeds of life and light - we create and build and change and transform for the better when we are in touch with ourselves and hold Torah dear to our lives.
This is why the Arabs will never beat us. Because they are the consumers, the devourers the forces of destruction and they do not know how to plant and to nurture and to grow and replant. They do not understand what they are going to do is going to lay waste to the world. It is an age old battle between the forces of darkness and holiness. With everything there is the opposite and over 13 centuries ago when Mohammed who was a primative warlord took sections of the holy document of Torah - the document of life and love and humanity - then he twisted and perverted it into the Koran those with darkness in their souls were united and forged alliances that tried to extinguish light from the world. The funny thing about light involves its essence. You can have the blackest night and introduce a pin prick of light and it is clearly visible . Have a room of light and it is hard to introduce a spot of night.
It is important to listen to what this man has to say. His wisdom is tempered by challenges put to him through life and when his holy daughter and son in law were gathered up, he and his wife raised their grandchildren along with the rest of his other children. Truly a man of light.
His days should be long and blessed with peace.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An unusual encounter in a Park


Today I had an unusual encounter that riled my blood pressure no end. A friend and her daughter came over to visit and we took some gluten free bread that had moth infestation and some nice (sob) expensive liver cleanse cereal that is so yummy and had not been opened but was crawling with moth larvae to the geese, ducks and pigeons in the park. It is a waste to throw it in the bin and the larvae make a good bit of fresh protein that the geese, pigeons, ducks and seagulls and other water birds love.
Now there is a sign in the middle of the pond that says Don't feed the birds. People used to come down and throw their left over bread into the pond which has the effect of making the pond rather gungey with bread that is not eaten by the birds. I throw the bread onto the grass and the pigeons and other wild life including possums enjoy it and there is no waste.

When we finished throwing down some old Matza also with larvae and the bread and cereal, I sat on the bench with Evelyn and we talked about the meaning of life, exchanged woes, challenges and joys of child rearing as single parents and having to make a living and how to best balance life's necessities and deal with everything.
Presently a woman marches purposefully up to me. She is middle aged, got some sort of scarf dangling from around her neck and jewellery. In short she looks the typical aging matured hippy type.
   'I have a few things to say to you.' She points at me. I look up and think to myself, this is going to be good. I bet she is going to ask me whether I can read the sign. I was immediately beginning to reflect whether I should pretend I have a reading challenge and ask her politely and pleasant if she could read it for me as I am illiterate, for the moment.
   'My daughter is an environmental scientist.' She pauses and looks down her nose at me. 'She has studied it at university.' At this I look at her serenely and calmly smile showing teeth I wish I had filed for this occasion. 'OH, REAAALLeeee.' I say with the right amount of exaggerated surprise to show the level of my 'admiration'  for such. 'She is really concerned that you are feeding these birds and wanted to say something to you. I know it is fun for the kids and all, .. but it encourages bad behaviour among the birds and it is not good for them to be fed. Don't you see the sign in the middle of the pond?' At that I wanted to get out my white cane, and tap the ground in front of me and say, 'Oh, sign, what sign?' and peer near sightedly at the trees and benches, and then ask her to read it for me. Instead I said, 'I happen to think that sign is a load of bollocks seeing as the council animal welfare officers could not be bothered about the foxes taking these birds a few years back in the drought and leaving wounded and dying birds in the pond. Quite hypocritical if you ask me.' She held up her hand and interrupted me,'That is another issue. I think you need to know that birds like these.....' Behind her there was dumpy young woman with a short skirt and legs like overstuffed sausages barreling up her rear. She had cropped black hair that reminded me of a basin cut that was popular in the fifties among people who wanted to save money on barbers and hairdressers. She had a face that reminded me of the boiled raisin puddings that people used to tie up in cheese cloth and boil. When you unwrapped it, it was an unappetising shade of gray with creases and swollen black raisins in it. Her face looked like one of those with two big raisins strategically placed and a folded over crease for her face and a bump for a nose. I was willing to lay short odds that this was the young environmental scientist.
  'I am concerned that you are feeding these birds. Don't you see the sign. Don't you know how bad it is for these birds to be fed?'
   I decided not to mince words. 'Why don't the pair of you mind your own businesses. What is it that you have to come up and bully people about a sign in a park? I can read and anyway what I am feeding these birds does not harm them. I raised chickens, ducks and turkeys etc in the country as a child. Don't talk crap. Go and bully someone else.' Both people got rather huffy and especially the environmental scientist. They had another would be environmentalist also pulling up the rear.
  'The worst that will happen is these birds will be happier and fatter than they would normally be. Go and bully someone else somewhere else.'
   'I also grew up in the country.' stated Ms Lady of the Scarves Draped around her neck. I gave her a look. 'Yeah right in the Dandenongs or Ferntree Gully most likely or Cranbourne. That is country for some people here. Like way out in the sticks where you are at least twenty minutes from the nearest 7/11 or a good half hour from a Westfield Shopping mall.
   'Go away and bother someone else who will cow tow to your bullying. I don't want to be bothered.' I waved her away.
   The two of them huffed up. 'We shall have to report her.' stated the daughter. Mother agreed and the three of them walked off with backward scowls.
I smiled and thought about pleading illiteracy. The geese honked happily and went on eating. The seven young goslings have grown quite fat and friendly. A couple of the big white geese had waddled over to inspect the newcomers. I has hoping they would take a peck or two as they do to me sometimes to tell me to hurry up and distribute the bread or cereal goodies. Unfortunately they saw these three as unpalatable human beings
Some people need to feel the POWER. That is why they will go and stand over and attempt to abuse perfect strangers.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Conducting a war on pantry moths...

For those of you who suffer these winged beasties, has anyone out there got a sure fire method against their infestation? I have the strips in my pantry but I know my home is not the only one infected with these winged varmints and I hate them with a passion. I have just thrown out in the rubbish several packets of really yummie gluten free cereal. They have not attacked the puffed millet YET so I am putting that in the fridge.
They get into everything possible and sealed cellophane is not a deterrent. Plastic is and I am going to try gladwrapping some things but if there is the slightest crack they get in and wriggling lavae appear in all your cereal packets and any grains or pastas or flours. They are simply awful.
For those of you who do not know what these are here are some pictures.
and what they do to your foodstuffs.
And here are some defensive weapons to use against these vile little creatures. Apart from getting rid of all infested food stuffs and wiping down shelves with pepperment oil or tea tree oil you can put bay leaves in your cupboards

Or there is another remedy which is the traps that you can buy in the supermarket but the bay leaves might be cheaper.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Shabbes Ve'yechi

The twelfth parsha and the last parsha of Berishit. And he lived .. is about Ya'acov's passing and his blessings to his children and grandchildren before he passed from this existence and his burial. He made Yosef swear to bury him in Israel.
One major theme I get from this parsha is the importance of Jewish education and a Jewish lifestyle.Through our children we will live and continue our service to Hashem. If we ourselves do not live as jews and honour or respect Jewish learning and a Jewish lifestyle, then we can hardly expect it of the next generation. We must saturate our children with a love of Yiddishkeit and Torah. By the same token, we must not drown them but teach them to be fish.
We should all merit to be worthy descendants of Ya'acov and be blessed in the ways of the righteous.
Blessings and a good shabbes.
Here is a very good link to a lecture on  the blessing of 'Like Ephraim and Menashe' by Rabbi Aaron Raskin

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fasting and Finishing the Beit Hamikdash

When we start something we should finish it. There is no point in giving up half way. I am fasting for the Tenth of Tevet which is today. Here is some information about the tenth of Tevet although it is a minor fast it is observed with some stringency by many religious Jews.
An extract from wikipedia:
   "As with all minor Jewish fast days, the Tenth of Tevet begins at dawn (alos ha-shahar) and concludes at nightfall (tzeis hakochavim). In accordance with the general rules of minor fasts as set forth in the Code of Jewish Law,[6] and in contrast to Tisha B'Av, there are no additional physical constraints beyond fasting (such as the prohibitions against bathing or of wearing leather shoes). Because it is a minor fast day, Halacha exempts from fasting those who are ill, even if their illnesses are not life threatening, and pregnant and nursing women who find fasting difficult.[7]
A Torah reading, a special prayer in the Amidah (Aneinu), and (in many communities) the Avinu Malkeinu prayer are added at both Shacharis and Mincha services (unless the fast falls on Friday, when Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are not said at Mincha). At Shacharis services, the Selichos are also said, and at Mincha, in Ashkenazic congregations, the Haftarah is read.[8]
The fast can occur on a Friday resulting in the unusual event of a Torah and Haftarah reading at the Mincha service right before Shabbat. This is a fairly rare occurrence. The last three times this happened were on 20 December 1996, 5 January 2001 and 17 December 2010; the next time will be on 13 December 2013.
Although this fast is considered a minor fast, it has an additional theoretical stringency not shared by any other fast except Yom Kippur, namely that if the Tenth of Tevet were to fall out on a Shabbat, then according to some, this fast would actually be observed on Shabbat. This is because of the phrase עצם היום הזה ("the very day") that appears in Ezekiel 24:2, similar to the phrase בעצם היום הזה describing Yom Kippur in Leviticus 23:28. However under the current calendrical scheme, the Tenth of Tevet cannot fall on Shabbat.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel chose to observe the Tenth of Tevet as a "general kaddish day" for the victims of the Holocaust, many of whom lack identifiable yahrtzeits (anniversaries of their deaths).[9] To some religious Jews, this day is preferable as a remembrance day to Yom HaShoah, since the latter occurs in the month of Nisan, in which mourning was traditionally prohibited."

When we start something we need to finish it and finish it properly. We started the rebuilding of the temple. We need to finish it and we need to do this right through to the end when the temple will be rebuilt and stand a gleaming house of G-D on the site of the previous two temples. At present there are cohenim in Israel who are studying the laws of the temple service and they have even reconstructed some of the temple tools and instruments of service.
We are all the servants of Moishiach each and everyone of us, whether we are religious Jews or not religious Jews. In fact those of us who fast, are fasting not only for the destruction of the Temple and the siege of Jerusalem, we are fasting for each Jew who pretends he or she does not believe in G-D and commits averiot not worthy of a Jewish person, for the destruction of these people's soul is imminent if we did not fast and beg for their forgiveness and another chance from the Master of All Worlds.
On a personal level, I remember many years ago in 1989 not long after the fast of Tisha Be'av these two women, one of them was a convert and the other had applied to convert but had not finished for some reason known only to her. They tried to stop my conversion and it started with the one who did not finish her conversion saying the most hurtful things about me that she could dredge up from her repertoire of nastiness. I had heard from the Beth Din I was to to go the mikveh the next week. Then her sister who had finished her conversion came in on the let's rip this woman to shreds party with gusto. They went on about my unfitness to be a Jew and etc etc and how dare the Beth Din accept me when her sister was a far more worthy a candidate for conversion than I was. To top it off at one stage the sister who had finished her conversion tried to scratch my face because as she told me, she hated my 'goyishe face and I don't even look like a Jew'. I was afraid and held up my hands and grabbed her arms to stop her. They both left after I had done that stating I had no right to touch her and that she had bruises and they were going to have me charged with assault. They actually went to the Av Beth Din of the time and showed her 'bruised' arms and said that I had attacked them, I heard later.
What is my reason for bringing this up. It is all about sinat am and getting over this. Hopefully those two women have grown and understood the magnitude of what they did and for me,  Hashem was showing me something about malice. I was understandably very shaken and believed that maybe I was unworthy and nearly did not go to the Mikveh because I believed myself to be the scum of the earth and unworthy. I know today that Hashem called on me to forgive and grow and move on with my life. We are all worthy of G-D's love and we just have to believe so and grow so into it.
Those two women are Jews as I am and they deserve understanding and sympathy, even empathy. We need to allow ourselves to build and not to destroy or tear down. There will be a third beit hamikdash and we all have a part in its rebuilding. May that be with the coming of Moishiach this evening at the end of the fast or even before.

AMALYA CAFE sets a new standard in Kosher Organic food.


I remember being one of the first customers when Amalya Cafe first opened their doors under Yifat and Yohushua the original owners. It has come a long way and while under the new owners, Miri and Shaul Gurewicz the vision has expanded to include Fresh Organic Goats Milk and Goat Milk products as yoghurt and cheese, the basic philosophy of healthy good for you Kosher eating has not changed.
Yifat had made a health retreat upstairs for chinese medicine but that space is now being used for an expanded restaurant function room and I can see this little cafe going from success to success.

This is their website. If you want great coffee and tasty food, don't pass them by and I am sure they will improve and expand the restaurant menu as Amalya continues to grow and develop as an organic Kosher eatery.

With all the fresh goats' milk product in the display cabinet and one of the great staff at Amalya serving. They make the best coffee.

Monday, January 2, 2012

NEW YEAR I have created a monster for myself.... my blog it needs feeding

It has been a few days and I have not posted anything of note with regard to New Years as promised. What does New Year mean for me as  Jew? It means renewed hope as I call on G-D's mercy as a Jew and try to make the new year a better one, a more worthwhile one. I look at the previous years goals and how did I achieve them? Were they worthwhile goals or superficial ones. Was I unrealistic and tried to take on too much? That is also important, as well as not underestimating oneself. For us as Jews the New Year or Rosh Hashana (literally Head of the Year) is a very important time. It is one of spiritual repentance and remembrance of G-D and how G-D's mercy sustains us all in this world. It is not a time for getting drunk and wild revelry doing things that we would not normally do and making the excuse that we are too drunk or inebriated to know what we were doing. Not at all. It is a time when we really do pay attention to the minutest detail of our behaviour and endeavour to admit to it, face up to it and correct it, not to conceal it or cover it up.

Here are some differences that I have noted.
Jewish New Year is about family getting together at shule and later for a meal together. It is about making a tikkun or correction in our self and our behaviour. We check Mezuzot, we clean windows and it is a different sort of cleaning pesach cleaning. We clean our neshamot or souls of anger and hatred and focus on our relationships both with G-D and with others. It is a whole experience. Before Yom Kippur we go to the Mikveh (ritual bath) and on Yom Kippur we fast. In the month of the New Year Tishrei we also remember who we are and G-D mercy, we dwell in booths or succot and on Simchat Torah and Shmini Atzeret we come together as a nation to celebrate and be joyous over the Torah. Even then we should not get so intoxicated that we forget who we are. It is about remembering who we are.

So totally different really from the secular new year where getting as intoxicated as possible, locking lips with any person male or female at midnight, dancing around in mindless joy, watching fireworks, drinking again and vomiting in the gutter and staggering home on public transport or any taxi foolish enough to pick up such a person. There are people who do celebrate in a far more sober and serious fashion but they are not the main trend of celebrating. Most people are proud not to have a recollection of their new year which kind of defeats the purpose of a new year and a new start to another stage in one's life. It seems to be forgetting who we are.

Islam does not celebrate New Year or Hijri which is on 1 Muharram in the Islamic calendar and belongs to one of their three forbidden months where they are apparently not allowed to fight or have battles. It is also the date of one of Mohammed's sons being killed. It is a pity that the 'religion of peace' did not have more forbidden to fight months and do they observe this edict?

Chinese New Year is usually around the end of January or beginning of February. They see off the ghosts of the old year with lots of firecrackers and give out red envelopes with money to children and the poor some do. There are dragon dances which are highly significant and symbolic. Celebrations start on the first of the month and continue until the fifteen and the festival of lanterns. It is very much a family time and a time of getting together to work on the new. They wear red clothes to symbolise fire which burns out the old year and all the old bad spirits.

Hindu New Year is held this year in most Hindu countries around the middle of April and I will cut and paste some information on it here.
Hindu New Year time is the time of celebration. It is the time to meet and greet people. It is believed that this time of the year brings lot of hope and prosperity to the community. People celebrate the beginning of the year in different special ways. Few ways of celebration are:
  • Oil lamps are lit in front of the house
  • Rangolis are made with pink, red, purple and yellow flowers
  • New clothes are worn
  • Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped
  • Gifts and sweets are exchanged
  • They also believe it is a time to plough and turn over the soil which makes sense for an agricultural society.
It is quite interesting to see how many people celebrate a NEW YEAR. Isn't it?