Monday, 31 March 2014

Darth Vader to stand to Ukraine elections...

Hi All,

This is somewhat of an amusing  distraction  in the ongoing troubles in Ukraine, via the Guardian, it seems that Darth Vader is standing in the elections there:

The Ukrainian Internet party’s Darth Vader addresses a party congress in Kiev

But could it be any worse than the sith lord of Great Britain, the ever so kind and nice :

The 6 Principles of Atheism

Below are what I call the '6 statements and Mantras of atheism', which are 9 times out of 10 banded around by atheists online and offline : 

  1. Religion is homophobic, sexist and racist 
  2. You pick and choose what you want from your religion
  3. The religious are always seeking "special treatment" in respect of their faith;The religious should just go away into a locked room
  4. Religion is unscientific and not appropriate for the modern day world 
  5. The Bible is an evil book about god- endorsed genocide and has nothing to offer the world
  6. Kosher slaughter is barbaric and male circumcision is child abuse

Is it just me or can one see the irony here, that atheists have a creed or statement of belief themselves, even as they bash other religions ?  I do, of course, have my own replies about these statements, but I'd be intrigued to see what the readers think of these.

Feel free to discuss the 'holy six', whether you agree or not  and to add to the list ,in the comments section.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

On Blogging

To me there seems to be 3 types of blogger : 

1. Those who enjoy posting on other people's sites but don't have a blog themselves.
2. Those who enjoy writing on their own site and no-one else's 
3. Those who try and combine 1 &2

I'll be honest and say that I set up this blog for various reasons, not least because I've got things to say about the world etc. Therefore I'm going to endevour to be more like number 2 on my list .It is not that I don't enjoy posting on other sites or discussing comments on them,  but I simply cannot afford the time to really give each site I enjoy reading my full attention and do this blog  (even with fellow contributors) any justice. So whilst I will continue to read various other blogs, my comments & time spent on them will reduce drastically. I will say what I have to say here. And I think it is fair to say that both Esther and Hannah feel the same way. 


Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tzeit ha- kokhavim in Somerset

Hello all,

We're current on 'manvers' in the wilds of the West Country, England ! We've had a great Shabbat stay with my sister, Esther,in Somerset and tomorrow, we are going to see my sister in Cornwall. Now there are very few Jews in Somerset, a beautiful part of Great Britain, btw, (see picture below), so aside from seeing my sister, this was also a 'pastoral' visit to encourage and support a fellow child of Israel. 

I noted in my post below family is a key clue of the Jewish tradition. And boy was I NOT disappointed! We had a wonderful Friday Shabbat meal, the effects of the floods notwithstanding, thanks to my sister's culinary skill, with many moving songs and erudite Torah discussion. To me this reminds me of the story of Daniel, a  young Jew who was part of the exile in Babylon. He had no Shul, he had no prayer group, no Jewish society and heaven forbid no! But through G-d and Torah he grew and grew and grew! Such is how I have found my sister's family. 

 I usually  have the time to check up the dates of the end of Shabbat beforehand. As I have had busy week, I have not been able to check this out and according to Talmudic tradition, we had to rely on Tzeit Ha-Kokhavim; that is the when the Sages said Shabbat ends (roughly 1 hour after sunset or when you can see 3 stars shining in the night). As my sister lives in a rural area, we all ventured out in the late evening to look at the sunset and to see if we could spot the stars in the night's sky. What a wonderful experience! To rely on the traditions, rather than a website, to see for ourselves the wonder of G-d's creation in the stars! In addition, this family experience has helped me become closer to my wayward teenage Gentile stepdaughter (although my wife is a convert, children of converts do not 'automatically' become Jews and therefore it is their choice of what to be), who for the first time called me 'dad', (:  After a long and heartfelt conversations over the Friday night Shabbat table. We are both better off for these conversations and perhaps, just perhaps, she is going to explore G-d, Judaism and religion in general. I  feel that I wish to end with the prayers of the evening, as is per our faith : 

'Help us lie down O L-rd our G-d , in peace, and rise up, O our King, to life. Spread over us your Shalom. Shelter us in the shadow of your wings , for you, G-d, are a gracious and compassionate King. Guard our going out and our coming in, for life and peace, for now and forever. Blessed are you  L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who makes the bonds of sleep fall on my eyes and slumber on my eyelids. May it be Your will, L-rd my G-d and G-d of my fathers, that you make me lie down in peace and arise in peace. Let not my imagination, bad dreams or troubling thoughts disturb me. May my bed be flawless before You. Enlighten  my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death, for it is You who illuminate the pupil of the eye. Blessed are You, L-rd , who gives light to the whole world in his glory'.
Ahmen and  halleluyah

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Family Influences

I was reflecting the other day about the influences on my life, after reflection I thought of the following :

  • My late  mother, for teaching me Torah and a love of Sephardic culture and the world of Jewry all told 
  • My late father, for teaching and encouraging me in my secular studies, alongside religious ones .For instilling in me a sense of understanding about my host country Great Britain
  • My late paternal uncle, for teaching me that one can respect and appreciate different faiths, without being untrue to your own
  • My late first wife, who as she was  from a Chabad-Lubavitch background, helped me realise that not all mysticism is wrong or not worth studying, who gave me a joy & companionship, that I'd never  thought would ever be possible and a love of humanity that endured until she died.
  • My twin brother Sholmo, who has always stood by me in a fight
  • My sister Esther, whose knowledge of the Torah is complimented by her compassion toward others
  • My sister Ruth,whose patience and ability to listen without judgement has keep me going 
  • My brother Samuel, who provides much needed levity and brings me to earth with a crash
  • My sister Rachel, whose sharp tonge and fierece loyality will be appreciated by a future husband
  • My sister Hannah, who for her kindness during my darkest hours of depression and loneliness, I might not be here today.
  • My children, who remind me of the miracle of life, the miracle of love, that family can be an exhausting proposition, but a deeply rewarding one.
  • My second wife, who filled a void in my heart that I never thought would ever be filled again. Who provides nothing other than, love, attention and beauty in my life. Who helped me understand that rationalism and mystical belief can be reconciled and that even as she was an atheist before her conversion to Judaism. she was not far oft from The Almighty.
And last, but never least, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh,- The One Who Was, The One Who Is-without whom I would not be here and the above be possible. As a Jew I have wrestled with Hashem, as did Jacob, all of my life. But he has been with me, even if I not with him, bring this lost sheep of Israel back to his fold, as he has done with my brother Samuel and sister Hannah.

Halleluyah, Ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu, Halleluyah

Monday, 24 March 2014


Hi All,

It is a nice sunny day here in the UK, so to keep the mood light and happy, here is jolly tune from my favorite Israeli band, the Fountainheads (us Jews know how to sing, dance and have fun!) :

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A note on Kosher slaughter

One of the challenges that the Orthodox community faces is the current campaign against Jewish ritual slaughter which, along with male circumcision, is one of the targets of the so-called enlightened liberal brigade, especially bodies such as the national secular society. Indeed a couple of weeks ago one of Britain's leading vets also got into the act as well, thus forcing David Cameron to publicly confirm that he would not be seeking to legislation to ban Kosher slaughter in the UK (to the Israeli Knesset).

What absolutely and utterly gets on my wick, is that we have a bunch of people (the National Secular Society)  who go around and say religion shouldn't interfere with society or politics, and yet here we have a group that wishes to poke its nose into a religious practise and belief. Secondly, it seems to me that  when discussing ritual slaughter, people portray our religion as being anti-animal welfare, which is the biggest load of cock ever .The  is a Jewish concept of 'Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim', that is regarding cruelty to animals which is prohibited under Jewish law, this says a great deal about looking after animals, as various Biblical quotes indicate. I'd say that this is one thing opponents of Kosher slaughter in the the National Secular Society and other lobby groups, don't quite grasp, that Judaism has always taken animal welfare seriously, long, long before the west started to legislated against animal cruelty (Jews are even forbidden to hunt for sport), so I spot the rich irony here of animal rights activists jumping up and down about the 'barbarity' of Kosher slaughter. 

In terms of why we do not 'stun' animals, the most straightforward & blunt approach is to say that for us these methods of slaughter were divinely given teachings to us, from G-d via Moses, to follow for all time and as understood and explained in our Oral Torah and the vast bulk of Jewish legal opinion throughout the centuries. But OK if you are not Jewish then this argument means nothing, but there is also a secular argument to put forward a well, which I will now discuss.

In respect of stunning, the difficulty for us here is that we cannot eat an animal that has been injured before slaughter and stunning is seen as injuring an animal. In respect of stunning itself, I’d say that there is no guarantee that the animal is being rendered insensible to pain, the animal could in fact be only part paralysed, so all you are seeing is the animal being unable to express its pain .Furthermore sometimes stunning fails and means the animal has to be re-stunned which doubtless increases the animal’s suffering and this in what will be an extremely stressing ‘mechanical’ environment for the animal; whereas in Jewish Kosher slaughter, this is less mechanical as it is done by hand, by a trained professional called a shochet (who has to follow various rules of the method of slaughter). Shechita avoids these problems, as there are no mechanical or electrical appliances that can go wrong. The Schechita produces an effective and irreversible stun as well as being humane and efficient slaughter method.

Of course, I suspect most of this will fall of deaf ears.Most of the time, people don't bother with facts, but leap on the anti-religious bandwagon, which is a pity, given that the claim to authority by secularists is one of rationality, fact checking and erudite logic...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Day Dreaming...

Performed by Shani Lachmish

Lyrics by Shani Lachmish

Music composed and arranged by Amit Ben Atar

עוד תהיות על עתיד רחוק

לקרבו אל מעבר לפינה

מפחד של בדידות אל בטחון בקיומך

עוד רגע אנוח בחיקך

כמעט מוחש...

בתמונת שלמות אני איתך, איתך

תחבקני עד בלי די

הישאר בזרועותיי

וביחד הלוואי נאבד

כבשת את מחשבותיי

והרגשת בוודאי

אתה ואני, אולי, אחד

התלחש לי באזניי?

בשדה רוץ אחרי

ונחלום חלום מדי מתוק

אהובי תבוא אלי

כי חיכיתי כל חיי

עד כלות הכוחות

זיכרונות, ריח עבר רחוק

פחד בדידות עמוק

אבל... הספקות שבי כבו

בליבי הוודאות איתך, איתך

התעוררות להווה פשוט

ועם כל זאת אני מחכה לך

תחושת נוכחותך היא במרחק של נגיעה

עוד רגע אני אפגוש בך

עדיף לבד

עד היחד שנועד איתך, איתך

More questions about the distant future
Into him around the corner
Afraid of loneliness to the security of your existence
A minute rest in your lap
Almost imperceptible ...

Picture of perfection I'm with you , with you
We embraced indefinitely
Stay in my arms
And together wish we lose
I've Captured my thoughts
And feeling must

You and I , perhaps, one
I whispered headphone ?
After the race field
And dreaming a dream too sweet

My love come to me
Been waiting all my life
Fingers to the bone
Memories , the smell went away from
Fear of loneliness deep

But ... the doubts in me Turn
Certainty in my heart with you, with you

Awakening the present simple
And yet I'm waiting for you
Sense your presence is just touching
Another moment I'll meet you
Better Alone
To Rule designed with you, with you

Friday, 21 March 2014

Israel- small but outstanding

A tiny country, which seems to attract so much attention, both good and bad. A beautiful country, with a great people. That is Israel :

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Jewish refugees

Hi All, 

Whilst yesterday's political attention was mostly on the budget, in committee room 10 at 7pm, there was a briefing organised by Harif/We believe in Israel/Henry Jackson society, on Jewish refugees [from the middle east and north africa]. There was contributions from Dr Stanley A Urman (chief executive of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries),Edwin Shuker of the Board of Deputies as well first hand testimonies from people who had been forced to become refugees.  

For the casual reader might not know this, but the Jews of Arab lands ,who had settled there since the Spanish expelled Jews from Spain  five hundred years before and other communities who had been in the region   for thousands of years, long before Christianity and well before Islam, were from 1948 subject to ethnic cleansing, pogroms, arrests, torture, forced expulsions and seizure of property. Why? Because of Arab ethnic hate toward Jews and because they had been thoroughly beaten in 1948 when the combined might of the Arab world failed to crush the newly formed & tiny state of Israel.  Whilst you will hear much about the plight of Palestinian refugees in the media, you hardly ever hear of the plight of Middle Eastern Jewry, even though 850,000 plus Jews were made refugees, as against 730,000 Arab Palestinians (who left voluntarily as it happens, because they were expecting Arab armies to slaughter every Jew in Palestine so they would return victorious). 

As our mother's side of the family were Sephardic/ Mizrahi Jews, our family were one of those caught up in this; some came to Israel, others America and for my immediate family the safe and welcoming shores of the  UK. What gets me so angry is that our family was religious, Orthodox, but also modern. We were educated ,middle class,  reasonably well off & were able to speak English, among other languages[this included our mum,as in the Sephardi world women have been able to learn as much as men] we had been settled in the wider region for centuries. And yet because of mindless bigotry they lost everything.  It reminds and reinforces to my mind as to why Israel needs to be strong and not weak; it also reminds me that Britain has given our family much & we in return, that immigration can be positive for all concerned .

But that is there past. Today  if there is going to be any peace voted through in an Israeli referendum,  if there is demand for compensation from these Arabs who lived in Palestine (many of whom arrived there from Syria and Egypt precisely because of Jewish businesses), then one of the key clauses must be an apology by Arab governments on behalf of their fascist policies and compensation for the Jews of the middle east. I won't, however, hold my breath on that.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Budget day

Well it's budget day today in the UK, so I'm holed up with various business partners and colleagues, having spent the morning zooming around and raiding Sainsbury's for cigars,cigarettes, alcohol and stocking up on as much fuel as I could. Because whatever bull the politicians come up with two things are constant in life- death & taxes. And in the UK tax rises on petrol, alcohol and tobacco.Now hopefully my PA will have set up the TV so we can all watch the    Chutzpah that is the UK budget day, especially as I'm now well stocked on the most crucial of items (ahem!) :

"DK" (I'm warming to that as a nickname).

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

I'm back to blogging !

Hi All!

It's me Hannah here, David's youngest sister (by 4 minutes!), I know, I know, I've been away for soooo long!I have been away for such a long time and haven't really blogged properly for what seems like yonks! After the experience of blogging trolls last winter, me and my twin sister Rachel went on a month long trip to Israel - I got bitten by a bloody Camel (!)- but Israel is such a fab and fantastic country, going there made me more Jewish and pro-Zionist than ever before! I'm now back and course and have bee shying away from the blogsphere, but I hope to make another go of this blogging effort, this time as a contributor to this site! I am not sure whether I will be able to post every day, but I will give it-that is blogging- a second go! I hope that this simpler and more straightforward template and format will allow me to focus on the writing rather than the gimmicks -the substance, rather than the style. Or perhaps not. Who knows, but I hope that it will be fun Frum experience! [ I'm also in the process of 'cheering up' this blog, with a new template].

Now one of the things I want to do is to write about Jewish cooking! Sephardi Jewish cooking is based on Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African foods, but clearly centred around Jewish food laws. Cooking and food are a big part of the Jewish culture and religion, so I will from time to time provide you all with recipes which you can try out yourself. This one is a Tagine, a cooking form which Jews from Morocco do and also Jews from what is called the Maghreb region also use. A Tagine is basically an earthenware stew pot, as you can see :

This is a form of cooking which is a really good method for the Friday night Shabbat (Sabbath) evening meal, as once Shabbat starts, in Orthodox circles we are not supposed to be cooking and making fires.
I hope you enjoy this one .

Serves: 6-8


  • Sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1.5kg of lamb shoulder, cubed (Kosher of course)
  • 1 x 450g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp harissa
  • Paprika
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 500g cracked green olives, rinsed (I prefer Suri)
  • 2 large courgettes, thickly sliced
  • 250g of cherry tomatoes
  • 5-6 tbsp honey

Method :

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or Tagine and fry the onions and garlic until golden.
  2. Add the lamb and sear for a few minutes.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, harissa, a generous shake of paprika and a pinch of salt.
  4. Pop the lemon halves into the pan. Put cover on and cook on low heat for at least two, possibly three hours, stirring regularly.
  5. Half an hour before the end of the cooking time add the courgettes.
  6. Fifteen minutes before the end of the cooking time add the olives.
  7. Place the tomatoes in the Tagine and drizzle with honey.
  8. When the lamb is tender, check the seasoning and serve topped with the honey roasted tomatoes.
  9. Serve with saffron or turmeric rice or couscous.

Purim: Anti-Women?

The straightforward answer is a laughable "no".

Via a comment on this blog , the blog call 'BBC watch' and from the BBC itself, it seems that The BBC education on Purim wants to tell the world that  :

"There are a number of negative messages for women in the Book of Esther:

  1. Women are property: King Xerxes believes he has the right to parade his wife before the diners at an all-male feast that he has organised.
  2. Male authority must be preserved: when Queen Vashti disobeys the King, who wants her to display her beauty before his male guests, this is seen as an attack on male authority in every sphere.
  3. The Queen is deposed (and probably done away with) to ensure that the tradition of male superiority is not damaged, and that wives are reminded that they must obey their husbands.
  4. Women are no more than animals: the search for a new queen to replace Vashti is conducted with as much humanity as might have gone into selecting a new mare for the King's stables. Character, intellect and wisdom count for nothing, only the physical matters.
  5. What the King wants is a beautiful virgin. The whole search is conducted like a beauty contest; even down to the contestants having to spend a year in a beauty parlour first.
  6. The chosen women then each have to spend a night with the King, to see if he enjoys them.
  7. Women's wishes are secondary: nor are the wishes of the women given any respect - taking part in the selection process is compulsory for the women concerned.
  8. Women are unimportant: even as Queen it's clear that Esther lives entirely on the King's terms.
  9. She goes to him when he calls her - but if she goes uninvited, he can have her put to death.
  10. The King ignores her needs: he doesn't want her all that often, perhaps once a month; her own needs are unconsidered.
  11. On a political level women are downgraded since at the end of the Book of Esther, the author ignores the Queen's achievements, and concentrates on praising Xerxes and Mordecai."
6 thoughts here : 

1 OK it is sexist and awful ....Except the story of Esther is set within the Persian Empire and Royal Court. some 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, should any really be surprised that there are such 'negative' views toward women???!  

2. The book itself isn't reflecting Judaism's attitude toward women, the context is the Persian Empire's attitude toward women. The story is merely being historically accurate, the author here could have providing clarification on that point, noting that Judaism has always given women 3 minimum (not a maximum) 'basic rights', such as owning property in her own right, the right to demand of her husband frequent and quality sex (oh don't I know!) and the right to provision of  food & shelter .

3. Points 8 & 9. If you look again at my earlier note, when Esther confronts the King, we will note that Esther approached the King, not the other way around, ergo, it was Esther who showed the courage to defy the culture and customs of ancient Persia , in order to save her people, so quite why this makes the book of Esther 'negative' toward women is beyond me.
3. Should therefore the Book of Esther be redacted to appease modern day feminism ? No is the simple answer here. 

4. Today Esther is held as one of the Biblical role models for Jewish women (along with Rachel, Hannah, Rebbecca, Leah, Deborah), so to use the book as a way of weaving feminism into the dialogue, is frankly laughable , but typical of the BBC. 

5. If  Purim is so anti-women,  I do wonder why my 10 daughters, 4 sisters and numerous nieces, to name but a few, actually enjoy the festival and use it as an example of what they call 'Jewish girl power'.

6. The BBC article concludes :

"Women - the positives    

Women are brave: both Vashti and Esther display considerable courage in difficult and oppressive situations         
Women can exercise power: in Chapter 9 of the Book of Esther, the Queen is referred to as 'writing with full authority' to confirm a decree, and it also says 'Esther's decree confirmed these regulations about Purim', thus indicating that she had considerable authority."

Yes Purim certainly shows Esther as a woman of courage and a woman of power. But that contrasts the important place of women in Jewish society- which has always existed- as opposed to pagan setups like the Persian Empire. It is a pity that this isn't drawn out of these points & in any case these 'positives' clearly contradiction the author's point 11 about the downgrading of Esther as a political force (you can't have it both ways, even in BBC land).

So to conclude don't always rely on the BBC for the 'full facts' and a non biased interpretation of religion.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Post Purim Hangover Cure?

Well for those who are less able to take their alcohol than myself, I wonder if readers would like to help out and or share their various hangover cures. Of course for some people, it is Patrick's Day today, so if your Orish or want to be for the day because everyone's negative about being English, and that involves lots of drinking. So those of you who are doing to drink later, can hopefully already have a hangover cure before you go out .

Sunday, 16 March 2014

David Cameron's Speech to the Knesset

This is the text of the Speech British Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave to the Israel Knesset (Parliament) last week. I've added my 'marginal notes at in a different colour to the usual 'white' text :

"Shalom lekulam. Prime Minister, Mr Netanyahu, Mr Speaker, Mr Chairman of the Opposition, Members of the Knesset, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for that welcome.Well, if I was thinking of missing Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons, and finding somewhere to spend a quiet Wednesday afternoon, clearly I’ve come to the wrong place. But it is a great honour to address this historic parliament, for 65 years at the heart of the state of Israel, and a beacon of democracy to the region and the world.

My ambassador did warn me about what may happen today. He said, ‘People may shout. Some people might leave. Fights may break out.’ He said you may learn the meaning of a new Hebrew word: balagan. I don’t think we’ve even got close to that this afternoon. And let me say this: we should think of all of those who don’t have a parliament, who don’t have a democracy, who don’t have a voice, and we should be proud of our democracies, our parliaments and our disputes.

When I was last here in Jerusalem I came as leader of the opposition, and I remember being quite bemused as I sat listening to Israeli politicians telling me all about the challenges of coalition politics. They told me about building a coalition, keeping it together, balancing the demands of different parties. Sorting out all the disputes. And I just didn’t understand this strange system of government. But after nearly 4 years as Prime Minister of my own coalition, all I can say is, achshav ani mevin

A good opening by Cameron; as usual he manages to use a bit of humour in over the recent Knesset rows re Ultra Orthodox conscription and boycott of the speech by several MK's  as a result and puts this down to Parliamentary democracy, which is based on the 'Westminster Model' of government  - and a lively one at that- which is completely true of Israel. Unlike other governments in the middle east, which are anything but Parliamentary models of government. 

Purim reflections

At present we are celebrating Purim and a few non- Jewish people have asked me (in basics) what Purim is and what we do. So this is my little potted version : 

1. What is Purim?
Purim comes from what we call Megillah ('Scroll') Esther or as it is called by others  'The book of Esther' and remembers the story contained therein (and of course shows us, so the female members of my family Biblical 'Jewish girl power' ).

2. What was the story?

"On the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries." Esther Chapter 9 vs 1

The story in brief : This was a time when Jews were ruled by the mighty Persian Empire, the super power of the ancient world. Esther, an orphaned Jew, but raised up by her relative Mordecai was chosen to be the new Queen of Persia (she was as my under brother says 'a hot babe') . However the Emperor did not know that Esther was a Jew and his Prime Minister, Haman hated the Jews and planned to exterminate them throughout the empire. Thankfully, after fasting, Esther plucked up the courage to see the King (she was only allowed to approach him if he had summoned her) and revealed her identity as a Jew and spoke on behalf of her people. And the King reversed Haman's orders for the extermination and Haman was executed instead.

Hence why we celebrate Purim, to recall a time when G-d was faithful to Jews, even though G-d is not mentioned directly in the text, it is clear that he is directly involved in the situation, even in one cannot see it as the time, as it says in Isaiah 'They have devised schemes but they have been foiled, they have made declarations , but they will not be fulfilled, because God is with us!'

3. What do we do?

"Observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor". - Esther 9:22.

So Purim is also a time when we deliver food parcels to others and to give to charity.In the Synagogue we listen to the book of Esther and have to 'blot out' the name of Haman every time his name is mentioned. We do this by using our voice or a ratchet (see picture). It is also a festival which is lots of fun; outside of the Shul , we also have plays performed based upon Purim as well as a family meal in which wine and alcohol flows and we sing various traditional folk songs about this event. There is an old adage about drinking heavily at Purim, but of course this isn't a license to based oneself into a mindlessly drunken state (well in theory,anyway).

So I hope everyone has a flavour of what Purim is about; a Happy Purim, a Chag Purim to everyone!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Shabbat Shalom!

Hello all,

Another week gone and  another Shabbat almost here.So Shabbat Shalom to you all! And a Chag Purim! I shall be busy for most of the weekend , so not sure when I will be able to fit in any posts,  although I do know one or two of you wanted me to explain 'this Purim business'  and others wanted to discussion David Cameron's speech to the Israel Parliament, but on the whole,  I will probably be off the blogging for a while. But  whilst  I'm away ... a song

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Children of Israel are NEVER alone!

Sam the dude, here (AGAIN!) , 

I wanted to put this vid up as it chimes with my own thoughts after my experiences with atheism, liberalism and wacko fundie 'Xian cults and my own returning to the Jewish fold. Thanks be to God, who worked through my dear and lovely brothers and sisters. Even when I'd lost them, they didn't loose me. Neither did God.The big irony is that, to summarize how I feel, I've got a song sung by a Mormon (non of the usual jokes about how I look like Donny Osmond please!) and written by an atheist. Still it is relevant to my own personal journey: 

And then the encouragement from my family, which is how in my own weird way, is who I can explain  this  stuff :

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rabbi Singer vs Jews for Jesus

Hello all,

Samuel here!

Whilst my bro is on his romantic 3 days away, I'm trying to keep up the blogging front (and look after my bros kids, all 16, less 1). Speaking of that 'less one' this is a post for my fab niece, Natasha, who is at university and has been approached targeted by groups who say they are Jewish , are   a particular wacko Proddy  version of Christianity  sect of Christianity. So this post is for you, in which Rabbi Tovia Singer debates and explains why Jews might have a problem with devout Christians a funny mishmash of Judaism and Christianity, justifying manipulating  Judaism  to convert Jews by any possible means : 

Clowns who are utterly terrifying : left/liberal steamroller

OK, perhaps I might be guilty of a few little strawmen here, but what do I mean by 'left/liberal ideological steamroller'? When I write about this I mean the types who frequent 'Comment is  Free' on the Guardian, but could also mean liberal democrats, labour politicians and the general world view of the modern elite (Tory party included), often fulled by a militant atheism which automatically sees all religion as 'bad', even as they advocate some atrocious things themselves. At least that's how it is here in Britain. Now we could dismiss  these people as poltroonish clowns, but their policies are equally frightening; besides which the lunatics have taken over the philosophical & governmental  asylum and if religious people 'pick and choose', then we've learned it from this first, as they are the world's worst, at least when it comes to trying to practically work through who might be called a 'liberal' outlook. 

I'll give a few examples of conversions I've had with such people: 

1. As a liberal I believe in freedom of religion... 

-Kosher slaughter is a barbaric treatment of animals and should be banned 

-Male circumcision is child mutilation and should be banned

-Religions shouldn't be involved in politics, keep it at home , but it's OK to be an atheist and put forward a political view on that basis 

-Religions that opposed gay adoption are homophobic and should loose charitable status

- The Church of England needs to 'get with the programme'  re women Bishops despite deciding to vote against it themselves. 

2.  Capital Punishment is state sanctioned murder and therefore wrong...

-Abortion is a  right  of women in any circumstances

-Assisted suicide is right, as people have the right to do what they want with their life 

- Suicide is a right  and if people want to take their life, it is up to them

-I support  euthanasia and living wills 

3.  conservatives are all  far right swivel eyed  and or Nazi type loons...

-Conservatives just don't think rationally about anything 

-Israel is an apartheid state and needs to be boycotted/shouldn't exist 

-Non of the policies of the above were ever considered or implemented by far right states, as I'm rational and the Nazis never argued they did what they did because of rationality.

- Conservatives are homophobic, racist and sexist, it doesn't matter if they introduced same sex marriage, that the fist Jewish , that the first female Prime Ministers were from the conservative fold.

I could go on, but I'd be here all day... isn't the self satisfaction and self- contradictions utter terrifying ? 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Military Service

In Israel there is ongoing controversy over the exemptions for military service for the Ultra Orthodox community (some 10% of Israel's population) and a few days ago there was a mass rally from this community against having their children conscripted at aged 18- like any other Israeli Jewish citizens- into the Israeli Defence Forces. I had gotten a wonderfully crafted written up on this, but somehow I lost it. So as I just don't have the time to write it back up, I'd simply say that there shouldn't be one rule for one and one for another; the law of the land is the law of the land after all. Israel could be snuffed out at any time, if and when the will is there for the increasingly Islamized (as opposed to secular nationalist) Arab governments topple, wobble and discover that whipping up hate and nationalism, via  the guise of religious devotion, is far easier way of maintaining control, than actually dealing with problems. Therefore Israel needs ALL of her strength and might to continue.

If Israel falls so will the Ultra Orthodox. Do you want to live in a Jewish state or go back to the pogroms, the ghettos, the Inquisitions  of Europe and the religious taxes & restrictions  of the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East (this is assuming you'll be allowed to exist at all in a Palestine state ruled by Hamas).  I also find that those of us who are NOT in Israel, those of us who tirelessly defend Israel to our Non-Jewish friends, who defend Israel against a tide of Jew hate from both Islamists and the trendy left, are left increasingly distraught about the logic if you are not prepared to defend your country, how or why are we going to obtain allies to help Israel and the Jewish nation (for allies is exactly what we need to survive).

I would also add, on a personal note, that I KNOW what it is like to have to served in armed forces. I may not have served with the IDF-although their prestige is known worldwide- but with an army of a  gentile nation, called Great Britain,  in which I was never forbidden to study or read Torah, or told to not be a Jew, but did my part for Queen and Country; I saw comrades, I saw death, I saw duty to defend a country. 

There is clearly a choice here. Which is it? Discuss.