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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson – well worth listening to

“ One of the world’s greatest thinkers” has never been a title that impressed me because I always associated it with unintelligible, philosophical utterances.

But Sir Ken Robinson is so not like that. Every sentence he says contains  such gems of truth , such clear obvious statements that we all ”know” but just don’t  think about, express them and act on them as he does. And he has such a great sense of humor as well.

Watch, listen and enjoy


Wednesday, May 26, 2010




I put the below notice on our local email list as a last resort – it’s pretty self-explanatory

A couple of months ago a cat had four kittens in our garden. We weren't thrilled but it didn't bother us too much.

Now things have become unpleasant. The mother cat is aggressive to the point of being dangerous. She's a good mother and brings fish heads / meat/ etc from the nearby shop's garbage can to feed them and sees any humans as a threat.

She sits by our back door and snarls and gets ready to pounce on anyone trying to get out.

I have called the municipality and they came immediately but they said it's illegal to remove a cat from her outdoor home. If she had come inside our house then he would have picked her up and removed her ..... to the garden or outside out front door - no further.

Without going into boring detail it's impossible to stop the cats from getting in and out of the garden. Does anyone know of an organisation that will come and remove the cats and take them far away. I don't wish any harm on them but if it's a choice of them or my grandchildren's safety and welfare - they have to go.


So far I have had no replies – I wait in hope.

Today we  bought a long water hose to squirt  at them when they start devouring their fish heads on my back porch. They hate water so they run away – but they return.

When we were infested with mice two years when building work was started on a new ( totally unwanted and unnecessary) local mall we caught almost a hundred before the plague died down – and that took almost a year.

I hope we find an amicable solution  to our cat problem  quicker than that.

All hints and tips welcome.

Sunday, May 16, 2010



I turned on my computer the other day to check my emails and the subject line of the first email was “G’d is following you”.

My initial reaction was to smile and delete it – I mean I know that G’d doesn’t send emails and assumed it was just spam.

But then I stopped for a minute. It seemed such an appropriate email to get just a few days before Shavuot , just days before the moment when we became a nation and received the Torah from G’d on Mt Sinai over 3000 years ago.

Maybe we all need a reminder that G’d is indeed following us – and checking up on us and watching to see if we are acting in accordance with the gift He gave us.

I also remembered something else ……….... a bit more mundane. I had just joined Twitter.

I was persuaded by other writer friends of its amazing networking ability and work-finding success. I have yet to be convinced. Still …I digress.


Now on Twitter, people “follow” you and when they do, you receive an email informing you of this. So I hazarded a guess that this email was connected to Twitter and decided to open it .

The continuation was even more appropriate.

“G’d is following you, Do you want to follow G’d?”

Now that’s a good question . It’s something we should all be asking ourselves, and the answer should for sure be a resounding YES. But not in the way Twitter meant. I was  not going to sit around waiting for ‘tweets’ from G’d – at least not on the twitter site.

So who was this person or organization calling themselves G’d? Somewhat presumptuous of them I thought – maybe it really was Twitter spammers.

I cautiously tracked down my follower and it turned out to have come from a Jewish organization who seem to specialize in ‘kiruv’ work i.e. bringing Jewish people closer to Judaism, keeping them up-to-date with the Jewish calendar and  days of religious significance and explaining everything – all in less than 140 characters.

Their comment that G’d is following me was not because they call themselves G’d but because they presumably intended to awaken all the Jewish ‘tweeters’ (I’m tempted to call them/us ‘twits’ but that may not be taken too well ) to their heritage.

I wish them luck and hope that not too many just ‘delete’ them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lady Jakobovits – a very special lady.

Like everyone, I was really shocked to hear of Lady Jakobovits’ death last Friday and I immediately thought back to my first real meeting with her.

It was the late 1970s and The Chief Rabbi Sir Immanuel Jakobovits ( as he was known then) and his lovely wife Amelie were coming to stay with us for Shabbat. I was so nervous I could hardly breathe.

My husband was the Rabbi of a community in South London and our shul had invited the Chief Rabbi and his wife to be our guests and they had agreed.

All of the officers of the shul lived in homes far larger and more comfortable than ours but the Chief Rabbi ad his wife had agreed to be our guests in our small toddler filled home.

On both Friday night and Shabbat lunchtime we hosted a large group of youth from the community , but that wasn’t what I remember about their visit.

I remember all the little ways Rebbetzin Jakobovits put me at my ease with her every thoughtful touch .

Before she arrived she had first called to ask if I minded if she brought her own home-made challot, as it was her custom to bake them every week. “ Mind” I was honored and thrilled . She arrived with gifts for me and our oldest son, a book about a child’s experience in the holocaust in which she had inscribed “ To Shai, with best wishes to be read in about two year’s or so” a book which I later read and ,knowing her background as a holocaust survivor, I well understood her choice. As a mother herself she knew that our son wouldn’t appreciate the book yet but knew it would have far longer lasting worth that a toy or game more suitable for his age at that time, and in fact the book still sits amongst his books today, 30 years later.

She was admiring and appreciative of everything we did and served, but went to great lengths to make me treat her normally. When we were on our own she was with me in the kitchen and waved away plates and napkins when we had coffee and cake standing up by the breakfast bar.

She was very attentive to our young children and asked many questions about my family and my husband’s. My father had died not long before and she expressed her sorrow that he wasn’t there to know about how much we were doing for our community.

But to me the highlight of their visit came after they had left.  During Motzei Shabat my mother called me in great excitement.

“You’ll never guess who just called me. Lady Jakobovits. She told me what a wonderful Shabbat she had spent with you and how I must have such naches from you, my son-in-law and the grandchildren . Wasn’t that wonderful of her.”

I could hardly believe it. Lady Jakobovits had taken the trouble, as soon as she had arrived home, to find out my mother’s telephone number and call her straight away to give her pleasure .

That was Lady Jakobovits; thoughtful, considerate, friendly and warm, always looking for ways to make you feel good and to bring joy to people’s lives . She was a true Lady and a tremendous Eishet Chayil.

May her memory be for a blessing.

Sunday, May 9, 2010



With Jerusalem Reunification  Day this week, my mind went back to our arrival here in 1983, with five children under the age of eight, no job prospects but a strong knowledge that this is where we wanted to be.


We initially lived in a rented apartment but building was going on all around us and we knew that we were going to have to think seriously about buying a home, if we wanted to make use of our immigrants’ privileges and mortgage.


We checked out the names of builders and went to their offices downtown.

The clerk in the office looked us up and down. “ I’ve got just the place for you” he said.He went on to describe a wonderful two storey house with a small garden in a religious section of our neighborhood.

The price was possible , the size and garden sounded a dream .We told the agent we’d go and look over the house and let him know.

“ Don’t wait too long” he warned. “ I can sell it any time. It’s a real bargain”.

We foolishly assumed that was just a sales ploy.

At the building site we looked around the house. It was a dream. Far bigger than we’d ever imagined we could afford . It was too good a chance to miss.


Next morning we were back at the builder’s office.

“We’ll take it.”

“Too late” he said. “ I warned you I could sell it just like that” and he snapped his fingers.

We turned to go, very disappointed , especially as I’d spent the night dreaming about bringing up our family with some real space and a garden.


“Would you like  to live in a mixed area?” he called as we were about to leave.”I’ve got exactly the same house, a few minutes along the road where  there are religious and non-religious people living .”

We shot back to the chairs in front of his desk .

“ Yes sure. Let’s go and look at it “ my husband said.

I turned around and looked at the ever growing number of people waiting behind us in the office.

“No” I said. “We daren’t risk it . Any one of these people here will buy it if we leave now. You saw what happened yesterday”.

“We can’t buy a house we haven’t seen” my husband insisted.

“But he said it’s just like the other one. We saw that one and loved it, so what’s the problem?” I asked.

“Well. Do you want it or don’t you” The clerk asked.

“Yes” I said, as my husband gave me a look that said ‘ this is your idea remember’.

“Oh , there is one other thing” the clerk continued.

We waited for the bombshell that would make us change our mind.

“It has a basement downstairs. It’s on three floors not two. But don’t worry it’s got a window and a proper floor and the central heating is connected down there as well”

I was still waiting for the ‘bad’ news.

Oh and another thing. You’re really lucky, with the current inflation rate  you’ll actually be paying a lot less now than the apartment cost at the beginning of the month.”

We were, as they say, gobsmacked!

We wanted to sign immediately, before we lost it . But there was still the small issue of money. We knew we could get a mortgage from the Ministry of Absorption but we needed some money now for a deposit.

Twenty five years ago there were no cell-phones and we were too scared of losing the apartment if we left the office and went to the bank ourselves. So we asked the agent to let us call the bank from his desk-phone. We told them that we needed to remove most of our foreign currency from its investment account. We knew that we would be losing all the interest by breaking into the account but there was nothing we could do about it – we needed it right then.

money clipart, banknote

But I wasn’t prepared for the bank’s reply.

“ As you are using the money to buy a house,” the bank-clerk said, “You’ll be pleased to know that the mitzvah ( commandment) of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael ( settling the Land of Israel) overrides all other banking regulations. You won’t lose any interest.”

This was too much for me and I could feel the tears pricking my eyes. In the space of one short hour we had the privilege of buying a bigger apartment than we had ever dared to think of, in the city of our prayers and dreams. We were paying a bargain price and the bank was even telling me that the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel overrides banking regulations.

Buying a home in Jerusalem sure was different from buying a house in London.

And, thank G’d,  living in Jerusalem is very different from living anywhere else in the world……. but that’s for another post.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Camera Clipart

I never really ‘saw’ any of my young children’s concerts , plays or musical performances. It wasn’t that I didn’t attend. I was there at every one of them ( or almost every one) but always behind a camera.

I’m not sure who wanted the photos more, me or the kids. I wanted to send them off to members of the family living too far away to ever attend and show them their nieces / nephews / grandchildren in action. My children wanted to see what they looked like in their performances.

But the truth is that the photos were mostly of appalling quality. The lights in the hall were dimmed and I was somewhere in the audience, usually behind a big hat or crawling up to the stage desperately trying not to annoy the other parents whose view I was obstructing.

And we’re talking about the pre-digital camera days when every photo cost money and most were too dark to be any use at all – but I persevered year after year, concert after concert, child after child.

But my obsession with photography didn’t go anywhere near one of my daughter’s. Several years ago she was in hospital giving birth to her first child when I received a surprise phone call at home.

“Mum can you come over here  quickly”                                

“What’s the matter? Is something wrong?”

Nothing much really, I mean don’t worry or anything. It’s just that ….well…..we’ve forgotten our camera and I really wanted to get a picture of our new baby as soon as it’s born.”

I couldn’t believe me ears. My daughter was 8 cms dilated and she was worried about having photos of her newborn.

Mind you it shouldn’t have surprised me. After all she and her husband have captured just about every moment of their lives on film even before they ever knew each other. Their romance was enhanced by their common obsession - photography. She was the only one of our seven children who, whenever we went on a family trip spent all her time looking for places to pose. Beautiful flower-beds, scenic look outs as back-drops, a pose struck on the deck of the ship with the still sea in the background – these are the things that made a good trip to her. The success of any outing was measured by the numbers of photos she returned with , with her in the center of all of them.


And now here they were at a crucial turning point in their lives and there was no way they could envisage experiencing this without capturing it on film.

So being the dutiful mother I grabbed my camera and zoomed off to the hospital. Luck was definitely on their side as I surprisingly even managed to sneak into their delivery room.

“Yes dear I think you’re about ready to push this little one into the world now” I heard the midwife say as I slid into the room.

My daughter smiled through a contraction as she saw me walk in – “Great Mum now you’re here we’re ready. Take a picture of us now, before I actually give birth.”

The midwife’s mouth dropped open, she couldn’t believe the conversation she was hearing.

I adjusted the lens, fitted my daughter and son in law into the focus and clicked.

The midwife recovered her composure “Now dear, are you prepared to give your attention to giving birth?”.

“Yes, sure”

I handed the camera over to my son-in-law and was about to walk out when my daughter called me back.

Mum, wouldn’t you like to stay and see it all from the other side for once?.

The offer was too wonderful to refuse – so thanks to my daughter’s fixation with photography I was there with her at the birth of her first child. I stood there on duty with the camera, almost too overcome and emotional to actually take a photo.

As her firstborn son entered the world and the midwife placed him tenderly on my daughter’s stomach , the tears poured down my cheeks as I stared in awe. The camera almost slipped from my grasp.

But I quickly remembered my job. I gave my daughter and my new grandson a tearful kiss and rearranged the sheet around them so I could center them clearly in the viewfinder in the well lit delivery room. I composed myself and the picture and clicked.


I guess by now she’s forgiven me for those dark, fuzzy disasters that immortalized her school plays.