Monday, 30 June 2014

Hashem Yerachem

Tonight the whole Jewish nation and world is in mourning and outrage, following the most terrible news that our 3 boys, missing for 18 days, have been found dead via an act of terrorist barbarism . I cannot write any more, I veer from deep upset, to deep incredible anger. I am lost for words. Gutted. The whole civilised world needs to condemn this atrocious act of terrorist barbarism and support Israel in response to this outrage. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with the families of these boys. 

I believe that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, spoke for all British Jews, in the following :
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic fate of the three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. Today, the Jewish people and many others are mourning the loss of three precious souls, who were taken in the prime of their lives.We stand as one with their families, teachers and friends. May they find strength and support in their time of grief.We pray for stability and security in the region and for the right of innocent men, women and children to live their lives in peace”.

Hashem Yerachem
Vehi She’amda, La’avotainu Velanu Shelo Echad Bilvad
Amad AleinuLechaloteinu Ela Sheb’chol Dor VaDor Omdim 
Aleinu Lechaloteinu V’HaKadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam
Esa Einai, El He'arim, El He'arim
Mei'ayin Yavo Ezri, Ezri Me'im Hashem 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Thought for the day ...

Hi All,

In respect of   'Orthodox & observant enough'.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

We love Brum !

Hi All, 

This is a post for my lovely friend ,housemate & hopefully bro in law one day, hint, hint [I know being circumcised and converting takes a long time, but we are all here to help, support, encourage & love (: ] who is from the wonderful city of Birmingham, which has an excellent University,  has a cool Shul and lots of people with funny accents,  who think a  bus is pronounced BUZZ !


On the lovely laid back accent : 

And for a fab funny song, about a funky moped [ROFL!], which was  originally sung  by Jasper Carrott [but it should be noted, not the person in this video] :

Friday, 27 June 2014

Shabbos thread for 29 Sivan

"For six days you may perform melachah, but the seventh day is a complete Sabbath, holy to the L-RD ... it is an eternal sign that in six days, the L-RD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed". -Exodus 31:15-17

Hi All, 

Another week and another Shabbat dawns, a chance to relax and refrain from work after a busy week. This means that it is time for another Shabbat thread, where people can share their hopes, worries, dreams, fears, a word of Torah, food and other stuff that we usually chat about over the Shabbat meal table. 

As readers will know, I've recently brought a min-grand piano. I'm not a rich bitch, I've just been saving for a while and done a few other jobs. plus my friends & family have chipped in a few pounds as well. I learned to play from a young age; being raised on a farm, the tv reception was crap and we used to entertain ourselves in other ways. Writing songs  is something I've been meaning to get back into, so whilst  I do enjoy playing old favourites as well as writing my own material; I have no illusions about making a career out of this, I just do it for my own personal satisfaction. I especially want to do this for Shabbat songs and hymns, so I'll kick off this thread with one. I don't have the music just yet as I'm still working playing it through on the piano to find the correct tune : 

Come now  O  Israel
It is time for Shabbat
The time to rest  & love
To reflect and pray
To eat our best meal on this finest day
Let us welcome the bride of Shabbat
Torah, Family, friends and community
May we all be one and one in unity

Light the candles now
Put your hands up
Sing  Shabbat Shalom
Sing the story
of our freedom
Sing, Shabbat  Shalom

We celebrate Shabbat
To Remember and Observe
Zakhor and Shamor!
Prayer, wine and bread
Kiddush and Challah
To be thankful for all we have
Torah, Family, friends and community
May we all be one and one in unity

You gave us Shabbat
Because you're the G-d of life
We're not here due to random chance
may we sing, celebrate and dance
Torah, Family, friends and community
May we all be one and one in unity

When we stand in Gan Eden,
Shall we not meet you face to face
With all our loved ones already there
Our Shabbat is just a portion of what
we'll see in that Holy Place
Torah, Family, friends and community
May we all be one and one in unity

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

More Madness - this time its Sephardi(sadly) !

From what passes for Sephardi among the echelons of the Rabbinic leadership. Via the the Jewish worker  and the Jerusalem Post,Rabbi Shalom Cohen the spiritual leader of Shas (the Sephardi Haredi political party -it pains me to put Sephardi and Haredi together in a sentence, it really does!) has ostensibly banned Sephardi-Haredi  women from attending academic colleges :

The letter goes -
"We are witnesses today that there are students who learned in [Charedi] seminars who are applying and requesting to learn academic studies.
Our Rabbis, the Gedolei Yisroel, completely opposed academic studies even in Charedi colleges since a number of the lecturers are university graduates and don't have the pure torah ideology that we are raised on.
Likewise, the coursework in the colleges is based on academic and scientific methodologies which contradict daas torah.
Therefore,  female students should not even consider going to learn academic studies in any setting, because this is not the path of Torah."

This is ironic for 2 reasons.

First one of the great Sephardi Rabbis, Moses Maimonides, was himself a man of science and medicine and firmly advocated that there was no contradiction between science and Torah, indeed he opined that the Torah was misunderstood if science contradicted it. 

The second is that the actual founder of the Shas founder Rabbi Ovadia Yosef explicitly approved the establishment of institutions of higher learning designed for haredim, including the one founded by his eldest daughter, Dr. Adina Bar-Shalom.

As for myself. Oy, I've printed off the edict and ignored it. I'm Sephardi & Orthodox. This belongs in the toilet. But we'd wipe more on than we'd get off,if you get my drift, apologises for the crudeness, but it is the only way I can rationalise this BS. I've been married twice, my first wife had a degree and went on to further studies, my second wife is also university educated. I have 4 sisters. All of them are educated to Masters level, 2 to PhD. All of  them are devout Jews, in their own way. My eldest daughter is currently reading English at University. I have no time for these idiots that are trying to ban women from being educated. 

I'd like to add the word especially given the Haredi setup of men studying the Torah and expecting women to earn money via a job  & look after a family in the traditional Jewish way. This is  a tall order if you ask me, I have no problem with both partners earning and taking joint responsibility for child raising, but it is TOO MUCH to except anyone to be in effect a single parent, but married at the same time... OK it isn't my community, but if you are Haredi and this is what you do; you aren't going to help the situation or your poverty by denying the main bread winner an education to get a better job, to support the family etc. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


A BIG *SIGH* here. 

I wondered how long it would take for some religious zealot to explain why the 3 Israeli Yeshivah students were kidnapped by terrorists; yup it is 'divine punishment'. Yep! It is either because Israel recently passed a draft for Haredi OR because Israel has been passing 'anti-religious (read chipping away at Haredi dominance of the Israeli Rabbincate) & is willing to provide land for peace ! Why not go ahead and blame gays, women's education & tzniut ?!?

Well, I'm not the best scholar in the world, nor am I the worst. But this I do know: the age of Jewish Prophets is over (which is why, incidentally, Jews rejected Mo, but that's a different story). So no-one has the right to claim the G-d is punishing Israel for whatever reason  and I believe that is well within Halakhah to give up land for peace. Furthermore I would argue that the ultimate Mitzvot, save the exceptional circumstances when we must Yehareg ve'al ya'avor,is -Pikuach Nefesh, the preservation of life. A peace treaty with the Arabs is essential in the long term, but it is a matter of timing and context that will determine this, though. I'm not G-d, so I'm not even going to give any possible spiritual answer as to why these things happen. In the same respect, when people ask me about the Shoah. I'll be honest. I don't have any words, any glibness, no hidden spiritual insight. As a famous Sephardi Rabbi [Judah ha-Levi] once said "If I understood Him, I would be Him". What I do know is that we can do our upmost to Daven[pray] for the return of these boys, alongside the practical actions that the IDF and others are doing . Furthermore, what needs to happen now is to put in place practical ways which will prevent further kidnappings. 

As for the reasons given  -

Well studying Torah academically is good, but if you really grasp it you'd realise that there is a life outside it and that is the real thrust of Judaism, besides which, ah you've heard me enough to know my views on this one, but I will turn to it in greater depth in another post ... & I can't see exactly what is damaging about the various issues mention in the article about the current Israeli government being 'anti-religious', e.g. the change to the conversion process, I will write about this at greater length another time, but I think there does need to be more leniency here.I read an article a couple of months back about how a famous Israeli actress wanted to convert- she had a Jewish father, not a mother- and stuck to all of the modesty rules, dietary rules and they apparently ended the conversion process because she was an actress, doh !!!

So if you are a self-righteous nutter or follower of a conclave of Mullah type Rabbis, who think they can interpret the divine will, turn this into a disgraceful political statement to suite your own needs, then go ahead. No-one else wants to know,  we are too busy praying and being practical in our efforts to bring back our boys. 

Thank you.

'Amidst everything we do, we say Hashem, please help our soldiers bring our boys back home.'

UPDATE (1 hour later) - I have the privilege of reading through my sister's notes for her book. She passionately expresses in her notes much of my feelings, so I will not need to discuss further the issues I said I would above.

American Presbyterians take Jewish-Christian relations back to 1492

Dudes, it is Sam here, 

So following the disgraceful vote of the American Presbyterian Church, which makes me utterly uninterested in anything this group has to say about anything, one of the most disgusting parts of the resolution [here] was the inclusion of this statement from an opinion piece in a Jewish newspaper : 

"The ADL [Anti-Defamation League] goes after anti-Semitism with a fist, it goes after Israeli racism with a sigh. As a matter of fact, the ADL and the entire American Jewish establishment should suspend their campaigns against anti-Semitism indefinitely and take a look at what’s going on in Israel."

Underneath  this statement :
"The ACREC[[one of the Church's committees] holds on to the belief that God created all people good. To deny some people (because of skin color or language) the privileges other have, is to deny God’s good creation. To allow this system—in which some receive advantages simply because of perceived “race”— to go unchecked is to deny that God made all people in God’s own good image."

Why is this group singling out a great, but tiny people, us Jews, who have done considerably more to advance humanity [oh and whilst this entire post could be take up with links see  here, here , here, here, here & here for a small fraction of Jewish contributions to the world] than their piss pot organisation ever has? Are they not the ones who should have a resolution condemning them? Where is the outrage against Chinese actions in Tibet? The kidnappings of innocent children in Nigeria? The poverty in their own America? The slaughter and death that is the daily life of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in the same region as Israel? where is Christianity most protected and which leader of which religion raises their plight[Answer it is a Jew] ?

As a result of this resolution are they not saying, in another way, that attacking Israel is more important than tackling anti-semitism or Jew hate; this less than 70 years after the Shoah, where over ONE THIRD of the world's Jewish population were slaughtered en mass, simply because they were Jews or had a Jewish grandparent & 66 years after the systematic ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries? So who the fuck are these guys to call the State of Israel 'racist' ? This state, need I remind readers was founded precisely because of anti-semitism, the Shoah, the fact of Jew hate as perpetuated by Christianity for 2,000 years of 'replacement' theology; but in spite of all of this, Jews have rebuilt bridges with Christians and many Jews (including myself) are good friends with Christians, we are healing, we are reconciling we are forgiving.

If, however, this is nothing more than a dig about the Jewish notion of being 'chosen', it is yet again another ridiculous and gross characterisation of Jews as a self -serving 'master race' that a Christian organisation has come out with for a long time. Need I remind readers that in Jewish theology G-d chose us, not because we were the greatest of people, but because we were the worst of people and that if we were to do anything good in the world, it would be reflective not of our efforts, bu G-d's! !

As far as the modern state of Israel is concerned, she offers full equality before the law, voting rights, religious freedom and the only place in the middle east which is welcoming and tolerant of gay people, regardless of one's race, status or religion.  But let's just take their loony logic at face value; France is  racist for being French!  Is Germany? Russia? Britain? Mexico? Shouldn't The USA itself dissolve because it was founded via a colonial Empire of the British?  The logic is disgraceful, as is the singling out of Israel as a  racist state, because by their logic EVERY SINGLE state in the world is de facto racist !!

Bibi (as the Israeli Prime Minister is affectionately  known as) had this to say (via The Times of Israel) :
“It’s so disgraceful,” Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” news program. “Most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation.”He said that while much of the Middle East was “riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions,” Israel is “the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians.”Netanyahu advised the Presbyterians to “fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference.”“I would give them two pieces of advice — one is make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”
Good on you Bibi, I don't always agree with you, but thank G-d Israel's got you. To the PCUSA, all I'd say is that this time Jews aren't going meekly into the night  & anyone who thinks we are simply going to dismantle the state of Israel has got another thing coming. Us Jews have survived 4,000 years of this crap. We'll be here in another 4,000, long after everyone has forgotten about you, the world will still remember and have Jews celebrated in it.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hey Gay, what about ....?

Hi All ,

Sorry, been busy today, waiting for a new piano to arrive! 

Listed below are the kinds of comments  or questions from  some religious people I've had come my way over the years since coming out .... so here goes. 

Hey Gay! : 
  1.  Their ain't a thing called gay, it is A choice
  2. U ARE a sin
  3. Being gay is OK, but ya  gotta be celibate ...Gay sex is a sin, so is having a gay partner 
  4. U need to be cured of it via a miracle
  5. Have a relationship, sex lives aren't our business, but religious marriage is for heterosexuals  
  6. We don't have gays here and you're no welcome ....
  7. You two ain't allowed to have gay sex, which is dirty and sinful, repent! 
  8. You must be having sex if you are gay [Even absented of a partner]. But these heterosexuals, not married aren't bonking each other to  a birth outside of wedlock
  9. Being gay is the worst possible sin ever
  10. If you could take a pill to become heterosexual, would you?
As this is an interactive blog, to readers  I ask
  • If you are gay, what's been your experiences? 
  • If you are not gay, how do you respond to the gay person? 
As to the answer to question 10. No, I wouldn't take a pill to change me. I'm gay, that's the way G-d made me. In the same way I'm shortsighted, left handed, His image, He knitted me together in my mother's womb... 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

On blogging

Way back in March, I mused the following : 
"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. "

Rather stupidly, Esther aside, I and Hannah continued to 'fight the good fight' on other sites, although not as frequently as before. I think it is a moth to a flame matter with both of us.. We both enjoy an argument & like to win. But so often, unlike in real life arguments, you can get sucked into this &  these can degenerate into pages and pages of discussion, which achieves very little, debates which are like this : 

I and Hannah were discussing this at yesterday's Shabbat lunch.. I think we both agree that we are at a stage where we want to be more like 2 on the list I penned back in March, so that would mean we are  going to refrain from comments on websites, unless the topic is 'very interesting'. Why is this the case? Too much time has been spent by both of us getting involved in arguing with people who have extreme views, who will never change and to whom, frankly it is not worth bothering with exhausting dialogue; life is far too short for that. We also both feel that we want to focus our efforts here. 

One thing we feel that gets missed in some blogs is that lack of participation by the author of a piece and the commentators. We try on the whole to respond to people's comments (unless they are obvious trolling  to piss us off ) as we both enjoy the interaction. But by commenting at other blogs and getting involved in depth discussions, it leaves less time to interact here or write good quality pieces; one can read other blogs without necessarily commenting on every single thread or blog post. So this time ,we are both going to refrain from diving into conversations and write occasionally on other places. That way we get to spend more time here, building this one up .Who gives a toss if we only get between 70 to 100 readers a day, rather than 5,000? It is quality and not quantity that counts.

The house of one, reducing all to none?

Hi All, 

A  fellow co-conspirator picked this one up for me. Via the BBC, Berlin is to build a place for worship, a single building for a Synagogue, a Mosque and a Church (see article HERE)  : 
'An architecture competition has been held and the winner chosen. The striking design is for a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Off the courtyard below will be the houses of worship for the three faiths - the synagogue, the church and the mosque. It is to occupy a prominent site - Petriplatz - in the heart of Berlin.

The location is highly significant, according to one of the three religious leaders involved, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin. "From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a centre is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture," he told the BBC. 
Can they get on? "We can. That there are people within each group who can't is our problem but you have to start somewhere and that's what we are doing."'
This person asked me what I thought about this, so I decided to make it into a post, as it chimed with a few things I've been thinking about recently. In one debate I had with someone online,  a couple of years back, I got this thrown at me : 
"show some respect for your religion and all the Jews who have suffered in the past and stop pretending it is OK in Judaism to be a dyke and to try out Christianity because it is not. It is a slap in the face to every one of them who went to the ovens!"
So with the above context  in mind (perhaps people get why I have no desire to share too much personal stuff with those of you whom I don't know)  what are my thoughts?  I think I will ignore the practicalities of getting 3 different faiths to agree to run a building and I appreciate there are 3 different sections to this building, but it still seems strange to think you can worship 3 different Gods in the same house of prayer.  I will also ignore the fact that within these 3 faiths, there are people who simply cannot agree with each other( Haredi/Reform, Catholic/Protestant, Sunni/Shia), although it is a point worth making, for if people in a religion cannot reconcile, what are the people between religions doing to their own beliefs to make this happen? (that isn't rhetorical btw).

Sooooooooo, I'm all in favour of being ecumenical. I have Christian relatives & good Christian friends, for that matter my best friend & housemate is an atheist, thankfully unlike the atheist troll we get he here, he is not a loony militant one, though, just a person who simply doesn't believe in any gods, but wants to live a decent ethical life, a non Jew who likes to take part in our Shabbat meals  and who enjoys the Bible as his favourite 'fictional book' & is also very pro-Israeli and likes us Jews. It is also true that at university, I got heavily involved in Christianity of various stripes (the strangest being the 'Charismatics', but that is a story- and is a story- for another day!). But the line is drawn somewhere and I think that would be it. It is about being honest, besides which, what is  the point of being a Jew, if it didn't matter which God a Jew followed? 

I think I'd have to echo my brothers sentiments a couple of weeks back about The Pope's ecumenical prayer summit. For me, I would add that we need to have respect for each other and not persecute or kill each other, but that does not mean to say we worship the same deity. I've looked at this myself (more Christianity, than Islam) and I don't feel confident to say I worship Jesus, let alone Allah. I can appreciate Christians of some stripes saying we worship Jesus, but don't know it or that we worship 'God the Father' and that some Muslims could claim we worship the same God, but follow a different path as Jews corrupted the Torah, until Mo came along and set us all right. I dunno, but to me I just can't buy this idea. Not because I wish to use this as a vehicle to hate Christians or Muslims, far from it, but because of the question asked above, what is the point of being a Jew, if it didn't matter which God a Jew followed? 

I  have no time for those conspiracy theorists who think we are heading toward 'one world government', which is manifest in the creation of 'one world religion' which signifies 'the end times' as per the book of Revelation (what else?).  This to me is too far fetched and fitting only of the wacky conspiracy theorist mindset and requires no further discussion here.  A slightly more plausible alternative is that this could be the popular manifestation of the idea that we all really worship the same God and that the blood letting in the middle east is a result of those who are on the more orthodox end of the 3 respective faiths. Or something like that. Except that there is a slight difference in telling someone of another faith you're destined for hell and helping them on their way.  FWIW - as repeated before here-I believe that non-Jews will also have 'a portion in the world to come'- and that differences can and should be discussed/debated, without the need to violence or in fact to build a building of religious worship for 3 religions in one, however much that may appeal in the face of militant fundamentalism. There seems to be merit in this, as noticeably the the bit the middle the 'central meeting place', looks to me to be distinctly bigger : 

Floorplan of The House of One

Those are my brief thoughts, what do readers think? Is it OK for us all to worship in one building, separately? Or is there something wrong about this because none of us worship the same deity? And what of the conflict within faiths? Shouldn't Jews be more interested in trying to met fences between themselves and Muslims and Christians likewise? Isn't this just an attempt to reduce all of our faiths into one mushy compromise, because people fear we'll all end up in conflict otherwise?  What do you think? 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Bring back our boys : A song

Hi All, 

Another song for us to sing at present, as shared with us by a fellow commentator in the thread below. 

A father hopes, a mother trusts, a nation unites
Our day has turned to night
A cell phone rings, panic strikes, tell me what are we to do
Hashem, our only hope is you.

Esa Einai, El He'arim, El He'arim (I lift my eyes up to the heights) 
Mei'ayin Yavo Ezri, Ezri Me'im Hashem (From where comes my help? My Help is from G-d) 
We call to you, we pray out loud in a strong voice.
Please Hashem- Bring Back our Boys.

We all hear, we all read, we can't believe
Our day has turned to night.
How insane! We feel the pain, tell us what to do?
Hashem our only hope is you.

Esa Einai, El He'arim, El He'arim
Mei'ayin Yavo Ezri, Ezri Me'im Hashem 
We call to you, we pray out loud in a strong voice.
Please Hashem- Bring Back our Boys. X3

This weeks Shabbos thread

Hi All,

As is our tradition, this is our usual Friday pre-Shabbos thread, which is an open forum to share anything you want to, or to raise issues that you would at the Shabbat table. We do of course continue to pray for the boys, via the Psalms and the special prayer that the Rabbis have issues for us to use (see Esther's post below &Ephraim Mirvis's sermon ). We will also be discussing this week's Torah portion (Numbers 16 to 18) and in my house we are studying Ecclesiastes, which for some reason the favourite book, alongside Job of my best friend, who despite being an agnostic/atheist, says the Bible is his favourite work of fiction - very funny isn't it! Well I was an atheist once, worse than the Hitch when it came to it. We''ll also be doing our pre-Shabbat BBQ (very hot outside) and drinks, with some kosher sausages, burgers etc & for tonight's meal I am doing  some of my traditional Sephardi Tapas foods, which will include fish, salad & chicken ( meat and two veg, I guess!).

But over to you guys, this is your thread,

Shabbat Shalom!


Oy, Oy My boy is Goy

Via the Times of Israel, The fashion designer, Risk, has made a range of Jewish-themed clothes, including a  t-shirt: 'Oy, Oy, My Boy Is Goy'…- I needed that with some of the boyfriends I had in days gone by- but the aim is to make Jewish clothing 'more sexy'

Hmmm this will  go down well with the Haredi.

French Police & the Englishman

Hey Dudes,

To lighten our moods, a friend sent me this annecdote the other day :

This happened to an Englishman in France who was totally drunk.The French policeman stops his car and asks the gentleman if he has been drinking. With great difficulty, the Englishman admits that he has been drinking all day, that his daughter got married in the morning to a French man, and that he drank champagne and a few bottles of wine at the reception and a quite few glasses of single malt there after. Quite upset, the policeman proceeds to alcotest (breath test) him and asks the Englishman if he knows under French Law why he is going to be arrested. The Englishman answers with humour: 'No sir, I do not! But while we're asking questions, do you know that this is a British car and my wife is driving... on the other side???'

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Prayer & reflection thread

This week has of course been one of great anguish for the Jewish community across the word, with the kidnap of 3 boys from a Yeshiva in Israel (I refuse to use the term 'occupied territory' as no part of Eretz Yisrael is occupied by anything other than the legitimate rulers). When I learned about this, I could help but not hug my husband, my boys & my girl, how could any human being use another human being in this way ? I shuddered to think of them being held captive in some hell hole whilst Arabs gleefully celebrated this criminal act. Furthermore there has been more bloodshed in our ancestor's homeland of Iraq. A terrible situation, where it seems dogmatism, tribal strife and bloodletting is going to occur on a greater scale than anything yet seen as a result of Islamic Jihadist terrorism (and if I may have a dig, which is why Israel cannot afford to lay down her arms). This is the world.

There is also matters closer to home. We know that there are people who are poor, who will be struggling to feed themselves. This is true of some in the Jewish community, especially the Haredi, and outside the community, with the ever rising increase in food banks and social dislocation. Then there is your own personal circumstances ; has it been a good week? A bad one? Is there any issues that you need to deal with before the weekend? Relationships to mend, people to praise, that last bit of work to be done? Are you struggling? These are all difficult challenges, we all live in the real world. So as we enter Shabbos this week, let us do so with joy, but also remember. Our Rabbis asked that we recite (in Judaism we 'chant' the Bible) Psalms 121 and 130, when the news broke about those lads being kidnapped. Perhaps they are a good place to start as we begin our Shabbat reflections

Shir hamaalot mima amakim keraticha Adonai
Adonai shima bekoli tihyena oznecha kashubot le'kol tanhanuai
Im avonot tishmor Yah Adonai mi ya'amod
Ki imcha haslicha lemaan tivare
kiviti adonai kivta nafshi velidvaro hochalti
Nafshi ladonai mishomrim laboker shomrim laboker
Yachel yisrael el adonai ki im adonai hachesed veharbeh imo fedut
Vehu yifdeh et yisrael mikol avonotav.

From the depths I have cried out to you, O L-rd;
L-rd, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.
If you, L-rd, were to mark iniquities, who, O L-rd, shall stand?
But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered. I trust in the L-rd;
My soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the L-rd,
more than watchmen wait for the dawn.
More than watchmen wait for the dawn, let Israel hope in the L-rd.
For with the L-rd there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Cross Currents -Open comments

Further to Hannah's post below, we would like to draw readers attention to an alternative blog (not in any way connect to any of us here), which is a forum for people to leave comments on Cross Current blog posts.Cross Currents itself heavily moderates comments and in some instances does not permit comment or a dissenting view, as in the case of the post Hannah has commented on. The explanation for this site is given on the first post  .

We are bringing this to people's attention, not because we are hostile to everything that comes out of the Haredi world, nor do we wish to constantly bash it, or see it gone, but because we believe that with every majority that there is a minority view and sometimes that minority is in the right. In fact we appreciate the sincerity of the writers of the Cross Currents blog and the Haredi world as a whole, in which a few bad apples spoil the reputation for everyone else in their community and to be fair, sometimes the ordinary Haredi family may feel that they are under siege both from within the Jewish community and outside it. 

However, our family are broadly liberal & conservative (politically and philosophically, not in respect of religion, where we are Orthodox in the broadest sense of the word) and do believe in the idea of freedom of speech, of thought and being able to articulate a world view, even if it one that we strongly disagree with. That is  one of the reasons why David set up our blog here, to allow for a forum where anything could be discussed, by anyone of any faith & even to ask about  heretical thoughts, in place where comments rarely get deleted & people can post under what nome de plume that they wish to. The truth can only be illuminated, never thrown into darkness.   

It was CP Scott, a famous liberal, who once said 'The voice of opponents, no less than that of friends has a right to be heard' ; in our own faith we study Torah in pairs, as we read we write and arguments down, debate it try and tear the other's argument apart. In this way we help each other to find the truth, as in the words of one Rabbi, study and debate are like a knife, that can only be sharpened on the side of another. That is the world we are used to and that is why we are happy to draw to your attention the Cross Currents- Open Comments Weblog.

Haredi Orthodoxy & Pharassies or we don't have the Magestrium in Judaism

Hi All, 

This is something I posted on my favourite Jewish blog, Dovbear,  but I've added to it. This is in reaction to this ludicrous post, on a site called  'Cross Currents', what is in effect a Haredi (that is strict Ultra Orthodox)  propaganda site. It constantly pisses me off, for a variety of reasons.So I'm having a rant about it. I can't do this all the time as I'd be spending every day on a rant. So I have to be selective here .

OK, well here is my view, won't be popular, but I don't care, 'cause you're gonna bloody well hear it anyways -

I'm not going to accept that a sect of Judaism- because that is exactly what Haredi Judaism is - which was created less that 200 years ago and then claims itself to be the one true Orthodox path, has any right to dictate to the rest of us, what we should and shouldn't believe or follow. I'm a Jew. I love Orthodoxy, but I also love the rest of Judaism in all its rich tapestry.

I try to follow the Mitzvot as best as I can. But I like our faith because it gives a wide breathing space for varying views and schools of thought. There is no way I would follow someone just because they said so. Who do these guys think they are, Jesus -y? Oy, no, no no!The Haredi gedolim & certainly not Rabbis are not a Jewish Magestrium a la the Catholic Church. Judaism does not work like this, we don't have Popes and Cardinals or Apostolic succession; yes we used to have a Sanhedrin, but the Haredi  under their Gadols Rabbis are not a new Sanhedrin, whatever they may think. Judaism requires us to debate, to think, to reason, to do. Otherwise we simply wouldn't study the Torah at all, but leave it to the Priestly caste...No, they are wise men with gandolf like beards, we can listen to them, but what fool - and you are a fool- if U slavishly following a religion whose holy men think that their adherents should just go along to get along , even though they, as is argued in the cross currents  article  " may even be wrong by all reason and logic".

Hello? Who is using the family brain cell here? 

Since when did being an mindless automaton become authentic Judaism?

U know the big, big problem with the likes of Cross Currents is that it is 'exhibit A' of those who argue against Judaism. It reeks of the Christian critique (a view once held by my non Jewish housemates) that Jews follow a bunch of impossible to fulfil rules, that Torah is a burden, not something cool, that we are all heartless 'pharassies', who place the letter of the Torah, above the spirit of the Torah. That we are all like Shammai, not like Hillel or in a Christian context Saul and not Paul . 

I see that the latest post on Cross Currents bemoans how the current Israeli government has 'forced' people to stop studying Torah to get a job(!??). Welcome to the real world guys. Most of us have to go to work to pay a mortgage (in my case me and 4 others), the bills, the taxes and if we are lucky we get a bit left over. So sorry, but you should bloody well work to put bread on the table & to support those who genuinely are unable to work.

That is authentic Judaism. So sorry, but I'll not bend the knee to a 200 year old sect, as if it were the only, real and true traditional or Orthodox Judaism .

Rant over... I feel better (: