Thursday, 29 May 2014

Shabbos Thread

OK People,

Thought I'd put up a cyber Shabbat table for this thread. If you want to share a word of Torah, a song, a discussion on the week's events, a poem,  any personal word of encouragement, a request for prayer or anything else you'd like to talk about here is your space.

I have two poems to share, written by  Judah ha-Levi, a Sephardi  Rabbi, Philosopher and Poet of 12th century Sephard (Spain), which I find in spirit is closest to my Orthodox Judaism  than anything that comes out of the Haredi  leadership -

"Cups without wine are low things
Like a pot thrown to the ground,
But brimming with the juice, they shine
Like body and soul."


"Awake, my fair, my love, awake,
So that I may gaze upon you!
And if one is eager to kiss your lips,
In your dreams this do you see,
Lo, then I myself of your dream
The interpreter will be."

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Tikkun Leil Shavuot

"I prefer your Torah to thousands of gold and silver pieces" (Psalm 119)

"I have invested my very essence in writing" [The Torah] (Shabbat 105a)

Hi All,

David has asked us to post on themes related to Shavout, which starts next week. One thing I want to comment on is Tikkun Leil Shavuot, that is the tradition of staying up all night to study the Torah.  To some this can seem like a strange tradition, especially as it goes back no further than the 16th century. But as with any tradition, if applied in a certain spirit it can be a wonderful experience. One year I tried- and failed- to read through the whole Torah during the night. I think I learnt a lesson there, namely, that quality study is better than quantity study. I also think that it is, like, so easy to become ensnared in mindless ritual and that is not what G-d wants of us. If reading through the whole Torah floats your boat, so be it, but it wasn't for me. 

In our house, after we have had our festive meal on Tuesday night, we indeed to do Torah study. There will the rest of us who live here and 2 other guests, so 7 in total. . All of us are going to write out and talk about a particular word of Torah; be it a passage, a reflection on a Bible character or a  particular theme. As we have 2 non Jewish (neither have any religious affiliation, but like living in a Jewish household & our festivities) housemates and those of us who are Jews come from different traditions, it should be an enlightening experience. On the second day we've agreed is that we are going to discuss/study the Ten Commandments and the book of Ruth, which are traditional readings for this festival.

I love Torah; her divinity, her soul, her meaning and her message, which draws us close to G-d, helps us in life, guides our ethics, makes us ,questions us and gives us so much more. I struggle with some of it, clearly, but I don't think I could abandon it. I wish to grow and learn more Torah as the years go by. The passages I have chosen to present on Genesis chapters 1 & 2, along with Psalm 23. I hope to put these reflections up next week.

I'll leave you all with questions for thought : 

  • To help me think these through, does anyone have any particular key idea on them?
  • What will others be doing, study wise during this festival?
  • Is it right to always follow tradition for its own sake?
  • If you are not Jewish, how do  study you own holy scripture? 
  • Is it communal or individual? And where and when do you do so?

Celebrating Shavout, Pentecost or Cheesecake

This time next week we shall be starting the festival of Shavout or Pentecost. Readers will note that this is nothing to do with the current Christian festival of Pentecost, but to do with celebrating the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. You can read the facts here at the Wikipedia entry, which saves us the time of having to describe what goes on, as what is more interesting and important is not just describing the rose, but to be able to feel it, to smell it as well as to enjoy its beauty. Over the next couple of days we're going to delve into some of the aspects of this festival, which will hopefully help us all gain a greater understanding, to reach a deeper level- e.g. a look at the Ten Commandments, the Akdamut,  Tikkun Leil Shavuot ,the book of Ruth & of course the food that we eat during this festival. Including cheesecake. Which is the name of the festival according to my eldest daughter. 

Can't think why....?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Sorry Stan, but the Falklands are British

Via the Daily Mail, it seems that Yet another example of NOT using Twitter or facebook and certainly a reason why anyone remotely famous shouldn't use the medium to communicate their beliefs, lest they put themselves into controversy. 

But I felt a need to comment on this one .

The people of the Falkland Islands -all 1,672 of them-  voted  last year in an overwhelming referendum to stay British. This should be the end of the matter, expect that the Argentinians cannot face reality and therefore refuse to do anything other than cause trouble on this issue, despite loosing a war, in which they tried to decide the issue by force. Yes that's right, British soldiers fought for the right of these Islands to self determination and continue to be British [don't ask me why the far left isn't calling for boycotts of Argentine products, given the way the Falklander's are being treated with utter contempt, but then they aren't Palestinians being ground down by the imperialist Israelis and therefore  not worthy of international attention].

The Falkland Islands are as much British territory as the Isle of Wight and therefore no-one's to give away. Furthermore the Argentinians reject the Islander's right to self-determination, despite the fact that  the British descended islander's are are culturally and politically aligned to Britain; even the stunning scenery is reminiscent of the British Isles (see below, except we don't have wild penguins).  If only the Argentinians would respect that, although I doubt it, as that country is run by a populist politician who would rather whip up nationalism and problems with the British, than deal with the problems of her own country. Which is a pity, because before the rise of nationalistic fascistic Peronism in Argentina, Ango-Argentine relations were excellent, with a thriving trade  between the two countries. They even had a Harrods in Buenos Aires....

Monday, 26 May 2014

What Francis should have prayed at the security wall

Hi All, 

Whilst Pope Francis has made some good gestures on LGBTQ issues, he is clearly biased against Israel.

Pope Francis was in error in his visit and political interfering in middle eastern politics, especially his decision to visit the security wall. But if only the pope had prayed something like this -
"Thank God Israel has got the security wall, that protects Israeli citizens from being murdered by terrorist suicide bombers, because this, dear lord ,is unacceptable and I apologise to you Jesus, as a Jew, that my Church has for centuries persecuted your people in the name of my religion; that boycotts of Israel is nothing other than an evil and wicked thing to do and that whilst we all want peace in the holy land. this can't be achieved when terrorists are throwing bombs on a daily basis toward Israel, may Israel be blessed and loved as you love her. Let us all say, Amen".

UPDATE - Readers will note that this humble prayer of peace, was 'moderated' on the DT blogs, with only the top sentence being allowed to remain in comments.

It's not that bad!!

Thought for the day- ecumenical

Hi All,

For once, I actually agree with a Bishop of Rome on something  :

Sunday, 25 May 2014

In defence of Ed Miliband

I disagree with almost every single socialist policy that Ed Miliband comes out with and his politics. But I think it wrong for the press and blogsphere to make fun or make remarks regarding his attempts to eat a bacon butty during the recent European elections.  Yes Mr Miliband may be disastrously wrong in his socialism, he may come up with gaffs about being the first Jewish Prime Minister,  be a secular to atheist  Jew, but he is, according to Halakha [Jewish law], as Jewish as our teacher Moses. I am not really surprised therefore that he would have an issue with eating pork, however secular a Jew he may be .

I Daven every day, that our secular/atheist Jewish brothers and sisters will come to know Hashem more and embrace our Holy Torah once again.

But what idiot put him up to eating a bacon butty on an election campaign, with predictable results and why do people feel the need to take the piss ? I won't vote for Ed, but he has every right to not want to do stunts like this with the inevitable happening-

Heaven, hell and my right to be offended

Via the Daily Mail, a Baptist Church in Norfolk,  this poster was took down after a single complaint and is being investigated by the police for possible ' hate 'crimes :

A pastor at Attleborough Baptist Church in Nuneaton, Norfolk, was spoken to by police after this poster appeared on the church's notice board

The reason for this offence : 
"Mr Gladwin said he was 'astounded' when he spotted the poster by chance as he was walking home. He said: 'I was just astounded really. We live in the 21st century and they have put that message - that non-Christians will burn in hell - up to try and scare people into joining their mentality.'" 
My view? 

Hmmm, this seems to me to be the traditional Christian message, so why the fuss? This isn't anything new for 2,000 years of Christianity, namely that humanity is in nature essentially evil or sinful because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (original sin) as well as the sins we commit during life, therefore God sent his son to be a blood sacrifice so that anyone who believes in him won't take the punishment for these sins and therefore not go to hell, but heaven. Furthermore Christians are told by their founder to go and convert people. Jesus was a free gift, but you have to accept this free gift it seems, to enter into heaven. This is how every single Christian I know understands the basic nature of their faith and I get Christians see me as a 'hell bound' sinner for not believing their religion & even worse for doing everything I've been able to do,  such as putting the counter case to Christianity according to the Bible, as a response to  them trying to convert my family members who've encountered this missionary work . 

But  as for the claims of hell? So what? 

The only power such ideas have over me is if I actually believed this idea (which I don't because that would mean many of my dear relatives and friends who have died non Christians were currently being tortured in this Christian 'hell', something which I can't believe a just and good God would permit, but I digress).  I personally cannot see the justice in someone entering a heaven simply of the basis of knowing Jesus; you could be an utter prick and evil person, but still get in by that criteria (my brother's words, not mine btw). In Jewish thought, we have a wide variety of views, including reincarnation, but I do behold to an after life and a place of spiritual cleansing before we go to this place, which is referred to as 'Gan Eden'. I also believe that non Jews have a place in the world to come. Not by belief , but by action. This seems more logical or at least just. 

Getting back to the poster, unless and until there are laws of forcible conversion in this country, I am free to be offended. Or not. As for this non Christian, I respect your belief, but you'd have to kill me before this son of Israel, goes to baptismal font and denies,

"Hear O Israel The L-rd our G-d. The L-rd alone".

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sunshine Across Israel

Go, Israel, you're beautiful !!

Letter to G-d

Dear G-d, 

I hope that you are well. I appreciate that as creator and master of the universe, people might think you probably might not have the time to check this little letter to you, although I understand that you are our  Avinu Malkeinu; our Father and our King.

You know I love you loads,even though I went through a long period of not believing you existed, that I didn't want to bother with you&  you know that I sometimes want to ask you difficult questions, like why did you give us such wonderful stuff in your Torah, only for people to use it badly? Why do people insist that why you gave us your creation and your science, one is told you have to pick you or science? 

You know I've screamed at you before, very loudly, and asked you why me and Rachel never got a chance to meet my mum and dad. Why was life was being taken as it was being given? I know that they are at the Shabbat table in Gan Eden, the place of peace which is like the feeling after sex or the warmth of a sunny day. But I still would like to know stuff.  What do they think of me? My life? My choices? My relationships ? Do they mind if I'm gay? Do they like my beloved, Sarah?  Do they love me? Are they proud of me? What about my brother's  first wife, his son and my sister's daughter?I have mourned their passing, so, so greatly. You know I grieved the loss of dear uncle Hashy, who raised me in difficult circumstances; is he still smoking his pipe? Is he still grumpy and stubborn? Is he with auntie Eleanor? I know that you love all nations of this world and that he followed you all the days of his life. You know that.

You know I'm not the best Jew or the most observant one, I try and meet you through living, the attempts to be kind, to not let my 'inner bitch' come out too much, trying to do and not to do... & friends and family. I enjoy the Shabbat you gave us. We light candles, break bread and drink wine over prayers, sing , eat discuss the Torah, debate & reflect over the week together,often till the early hours of the morning (especially as one of my brothers is now living with us!). You know that, though, because you are with us there. 

You know I've struggled a lot in trying to meet with you; being an atheist, then looking into Christianity, now returned to the Jewish fold. .My brother David says to me what is more important is how we all act in the world, rather than what we say we believe.I know you  understand all of this because I just have that sense of shalom, peace completeness and wholeness . You know that for the first time in a very long time I'm beginning to feel happy. I don't know if that will last, because life is life. Good and bad. But YOUR love,G-d, is eternal as you've said via King David (Psalm 136), it never ceases or ends.

That's what I like about you G-d

Hashem, ani ohev otra

God, I love you loads xxx

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Eli Eli

A poem by  Hannah Szenes, a paratrooper of the British Special Operations Executive , a Jewish heroine of World War II, who was killed after being captured in Hungary- and brutally tortured - during an effort to save Allied prisoners of war and organize Jewish resistance against the Nazi and Fascist Amalek.  This was later put to music.

Eli, Eli,
Shelo yigamer leolam,
Ha-hol v'ha-yam,
Rishrush shel ha-mayim,
Barak bashamayim,
Tfilat ha-adam.

My God , my God,
I pray that these things never end,
The sand and the sea,
The rush of the water,
The crash of the heavens,
The prayer of the heart.

Our story did not end, despite the  murderous slaughter  & genocide of the Shoah . Our people are free. We have our homeland back. We still live. 

Am Yisrael Chai !

This week's parashah-Bemidbar (Numbers 1 to 4 : 20 )

Hi All,

This week's Torah portion takes its name from the book that we are about to delve into, namely Bemidbar or Numbers . What is enjoyable about this book is that it contains many different types of writing : narratives, poetry, songs, prayers. prophecy, blessings, laws and lists. The overall themes are the journey toward 'the promised land',  moans, groans and ultimately the faithfulness of the Almighty. 

The beginning of this book can seem somewhat daunting and possibly irrelevant for any kind of spiritual guidance today, because the bulk of it is  mostly a long census list and various instructions on the obligations and responsibilities of the various times, but as ever the is stuff than we can draw out from this for today. To me it seems that the census was incredibly meticulous, which meant it would have take a lot of time, effort and organisation. 

Which got me thinking on the following train of thought -  
  • Time 
In today's society this is one of the most precious commodities that people have.  You cannot buy it, but it is something most people want. Yet we live in a 24 -7 world in which everything has to be done yesterday. There is increasingly little time to spend with family and friends, enjoying their company, enjoying leisure (yes you ARE allowed to do that!), undertaking non work activity. The list goes on. Thankfully we are blessed as Jews for having the institution of Shabbat. Whilst others might see this as a long list of 'don't do's ', I think we can see Shabbat as G-d's way of addressing this 24-7 lifestyle. That by divine legislation we are able to, once a week to relax and enjoy ourselves. If only the rest of the world could be as thus, perhaps we might live in a better society. Aside from this, is there any way that you as a person are able to make more effective use of the time you have during the week? And what will you do with that extra time, once it is found?
  • Effort 
This is a big challenge for me. Sometimes I just cannot sum up the effort and enthusiasm for any of my various projects. It is something I've got to work on.  I really, really want to do various stuff, which I've been putting off and off. No more procrastination, time to do ! We also need to put effort into our relationships. Perhaps you have someone who really pisses you off? Is it perhaps time to make the effort to reconcile 
yourself to that person? Or have you had an argument with someone? Perhaps it is time to make the effort to clear matters up.
  • Organisation 
This is something I need to work on. If we have time & effort, if we do not have organisation, we will not be as effective as we could be. Is there anyway you and me can improve our spiritual organisation? Regular Torah study, being able to pray at least once a day? And as Judaism is a practical faith, how organised are you for this life? Can you improve? I'll admit I need to work on that .

I hope these thoughts are helpful to people. I'd like to finish with this thought: G-'d's love is eternal (Psalm 136) and his compassions never fail, his faithfulness is great (Lamentations 3).

Be encouraged. Try. Do.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Yorkshire accent

It's been discussed that American is allegedly  'proper' English. But what about  Yorkshire [& other regional English accents]? 

Dr Who

Hi All,

Just thought I'd mention this .Is it me or is the new Who, looking like a copy of the 3rd Doctor ?

People in this village ...

....Don't shop at TESCO!!

Via the Metro newspaper -
"A worried resident called police to report a ‘suspicious’Tesco van parked ithe street.But when he was told by the emergency operator that it was most probably a delivery being made, the caller snapped: ‘People in this village don’t shop at Tesco.’ "

UKIP are acting like fucking clowns

UKIP are  acting like  fucking clowns— they are bestrode by constant gaffs, idiocies and what is terrifying is that they are going to win an election- despite not knowing what their policies actually are .

As my friends & family will know, your humble Dude has been  trying to steering clear of politics.  But  like a moth to a flame and with an election on Thursday, it would be remiss of me not to comment on the idiocies of this group; especially as they are going to win . But don't worry. I'm not turning to Labour. One would have thought that after bankrupting the bloody country—again—the Labour Party might have learnt some humility. Apparently not. The current Labour Party is determined to bring socialism back to the country. Because that's always  worked so well, eh?But that is a story for another day.

I've said on more than one occasion I was going to vote UKIP- as a protest against the current government,not as an endorsement of them- but quite frankly, the more I look at it the less and less likely I want to vote for them. In fact the possibility is now approaching zero. I got called for saying I'd vote UKIP by a good friend of mine . So I decided to do some research, look into things. These are my conclusions.

Getting old

OK, I know I'm getting old when my 19 year old daughter tells me she is going 'clubbing' at her university Student Union. [Yes CLUBBING! I know, I know,  but we are all young once & I have every faith in my daughter that she can enjoy herself, without getting into any kind of trouble, beside which I was a bit of a rocker in my time] . I know I'm getting even more old, when she tells me it is a 'retro '80's night', which is called "Reagan's ", named after the POTUS in the 1980's. 

Now my formative years where the 1980s, so to me they are still quite contemporary & full of nostalgia. A time of certainties, challenge and change. I had confidence back then in both Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan. I agreed with their policies and - in the case of Mrs Thatcher- voted for their way. Both were extremely dedicated to their country, knew they had to combat the Soviet Union, brought about its demise & fought wars to protect national interests. At home, at the cost of great convulsions, they brought about much needed reform and change in the domestic political and economic landscape. Except now I look at the state of both Conservative parties in American and Britain.

I am full of disillusionment and disappointment. Where is the vision thing? Where is the leadership? Thatcher might have been Reagan's political soul mate, but as recently released records show, she was NO pushover when it came to dealing with Britain's interests and America. It seems that Reagan admired her for that and as a consequence was prepared to listen to her more. Today we have Cameron, who gets all but ignored by the White House, except when they want us to join with them in lobbing a few missiles etc at Syria. Domestically Cameron has no vision, except for hurting the poor and being unable to understand that cutting welfare without any other support, policy or help to work, is going to lead to a poverty crisis and food banks.In the meantime, his voter base is being depleted  with the gap is being filled by UKIP; I am somewhat unsure about them. They'll have my vote on Thursday, but it is conditional. I don't know if I could bring myself to vote for them in 2015.

The current Conservative Party  is not  a conservative vision. 

Meanwhile the GOP in America has gone from Conservatism to anarchy, having been more or less taken over by the 'tea party'. Hence a budget shutdown of the government over Obamacare. True one can critique Obamacare on merit. But the tactics were stupid, the tea party is nothing other than a noisy, bullying fraction, who threatens to deselect loyal Conservative candidates over such issues as Obama care, gay marriage, budget cuts & anything else this pseudo cult doesn't like;  it does this via claims to be 'libertarian' and  therefore supports practical unlimited gun ownership, wants to repeal 'socialist' Obamacare, but wants to dictate what goes on in people's personal lives.  Contradictory or what? 

The current GOP is not a conservative vision.

Can we  please have a new  Reagan or a Thatcher on both sides of the Atlantic, along with a new vision, policies & ideas for the 21st Century conservative ?

Reichstag Elections -latest

Via UK Polling Report, on this Thursday's Reichstag European Parliament election -

ComRes Final Euro poll (% of vote)– CON 20, LAB 27, LD 7, UKIP 33, GRN 6

As this is done on a PR basis (unlike the nationals), this will translate into a hefty win for the Kippers, a thorough thrashing for the Cons & the Lib Dems face meltdown (good). As an added bonus the BNP will be hurled in welcome electoral oblivion(yes!, yes! yes!). Plus the fact the Labour Party will do well enough for them to keep Miliband on as leader, so he can help them loose the 2015 general election. Alas the Greens & the SNP, look like they will be in strong position, but you can't have everything you want in life. 

Put the Champagne on ice, keep the faith true believers.

The fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine. 

PS- My brother is going to write a critical article on UKIP. Now when Sam gets a bee in his bonet, there's no stopping him. He'll rant and swear. So you have been warned. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

My candidates for the President of Israel....

Hi All,

Via the Jerusalem Post- Israel's Knesset ( Parliament) is in the process of electing a new President

"Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced on Monday that the elections for president will be held on June 10.In his meetings with candidates over the past week, Edelstein told them the race would be held on a Tuesday or Wednesday in mid-June, which they took to mean June 17 or 18. Candidates asked for the race to be held as late as possible to give them more time to receive endorsements from MKs.By law, the Knesset speaker has to announce the date at least three weeks before the race. Candidates need to announce their candidacy and submit the signatures of 10 MKs who support them two weeks before the race. MKs can sign for only one candidate."

So  here are my own choices for the next President of Israel  -

This is just a bit of fun  & speculation on my part -

1. Natalie Portman
.Natalie Portman Thor 2 cropped.png

2. Rabbi Natan Slifkin

3.  Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks


4. Mel Brooks


5.Scarlett Johansson

6.Rachel Weisz

Readers are free to nominate their own suggestions in the comments thread below 

Red Dwarf ...

Hey Dudes and Dudesses ,

Classic British Sci- Fi comedy -

Which I was banned from watching when I was part of that wacky cult- because it was 'against Jesus' - which almost destroyed my life. 

-So now I'm free from all that crap & I'm now moved from my bro's house to my sister's pad , who's gone out for a smooch with her girlfriend, I'll watch it some more now!

Its cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere,
I'm all alone, more or less.
Let me fly, far away from here,
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

I want to lie, shipwrecked and comotoase,
Drinking fresh, mango juice,
Goldfish shoals, nibbling at my toes,
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun,
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

I'll pack my bags and head into hyperspace
Where I'll succeed at time-warp speed
Spend my days in ultraviolet rays
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

We'll lock on course straight through the universe
You and me and the galaxy
Reach the stage where hyper-drive's engaged
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun,
Fun, fun, fun, In the sun, sun, sun.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The BNP Youth - "heartless Zionists" and "militant homosexuals" are to blame for Britain's ills

If it is one political party I detest it is the so called 'British National Party' or BNP. For  those of  our readership outside of the UK, they are nothing more than thugs of the traditional far right (& have 2 MEP's). Last week, their 'youth wing'  released this video (I'm not going to link via YouTube as I refuse to give such an odious polity, which makes me sick, a visible platform on my blog).As my helpful guide of anti-semitism & anti-zionism showed [here], Jew haters will often camouflage their racism with the term 'anti-zionism' but it pretty much one and the same thing, although nowadays they will often attack Islam and ignore Jews (at least in propaganda), but in this video the mask  has slipped. We see the full vent of their  bigotry, angst and anger against society, whose ills are the fault of the following groups  - 
  • "militant homosexuals"
  • "cultural marxists", 
  • "banksters", 
  • "heartless Zionists",
  • "capitalists"
  • " the media", 
  • "UK immigration policy" 
. As Jake Wallis Simons of the Daily Telegraph noted* -
"Earlier this week, BNP Youth released a campaign video entitled Fight Back (above). It is in equal part worrying and comical. Beginning with music that evokes a Death Star fascist aesthetic, it is presented by a handful of (white) teenagers, all of whom look awkward, pimply, nerdy and gauche – the sort of kids who would be stalwart members of the Dungeons and Dragons society if they hadn't been quite so politically aware. And the message they promote, which targets "militant homosexuals", "cultural marxists", bankers, "heartless Zionists", the media, UK immigration policy and (bizarrely) Doreen Lawrence, comes across as little more than unreconstructed fascism."
Thankfully according to the latest polls, this party is heading toward welcome oblivion. But we must always be on guard against such bigotry. I only hope that UKIP isn't anything other than a more 'respectable'  outlet for such radical views, especially after the Farrage meltdown on Friday. 

Time will tell. 

It always does.

* Hannah made a brief skirmish into the comments. She was too nice with the BNP supporters on Jake's blog.

Where is your 'inner bitch' Hannah? 

Jurassic Judaism!

Via the BBC -
"Fossilised bones of a dinosaur believed to be the largest creature ever to walk the Earth have been unearthed in Argentina, palaeontologists say.
Based on its huge thigh bones, it was 40m (130ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall.
Weighing in at 77 tonnes, it was as heavy as 14 African elephants, and seven tonnes heavier than the previous record holder, Argentinosaurus."

But of course, this doesn't stop people from denying that dinosaurs ever existed; in 0.31 google seconds I came up with 1,220,000 internet articles about 'dinosaurs didn't exist'. More interesting than this  was that some sites suggesting that they are a conspiracy theory to 'prove' evolution. OK, I guess if people wish not to believe in facts  & even though, as the picture shows below it is pretty conclusive that dinosaurs did exist that is up to them.


                                                                   Pause .Oy vey !

For us Orthodox Jews and for the thinking person of any faith, I'd suggest the Judaism & religious belief  has always been compatible, if not comfortable,  with science. Our great Rabbi Maimonides  noted that  seeming conflicts between science and the Bible arise from either a lack of scientific knowledge or a misunderstanding of the Bible; furthermore that  science is one of the primary paths to knowing God which is the reason why the Bible commences with a description of creation . Indeed Chazal of the Talmud always viewed Torah knowledge in light of prevailing scientific theory.

Secondly there is possible reference in the Torah  dinosaurs, as it says: "And God created the giant Tanin" (Genesis 1:21). What is a Tanin? In Exodus 7:10, when Moses throws down his staff before Pharaoh, it turns into a "Tanin," translated as a "snake." Thus a Tanin is in the reptile family. They are also the only creatures in the creation account referred to as "giant," and indeed, dinosaurs were the largest creatures ever to walk the earth. What happened to them? The Talmud (Baba Batra 74b) says that God caused the extinction of the giant Tanin soon after their creation, because had the Tanin been fruitful and multiplied, the world would not have been able to endure before them. And as we know the dinosaurs became extinct, although there are various theories (asteroid, climate change etc) as to why this occurred

Huge, fearsome & magnificent creatures that they were, dinosaurs can't possibly be a threat to the religious Jew. As G-d's creations, they are another example of His wondrous might. There's nothing to be afraid of in acknowledging the fact of dinosaurs or learning about them.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Me and You

Me and you singing on the train,
Me and you listening to the rain,
Me and you we are the same
Me and you have all the fame
We need; indeed,
You and me are we.

Me and you singing in the park
Me and you light candles in the dark
Me and you we are the spark
We'll watch that light just make an arc
To say someday
There will be a better way.

Me and you were waiting for the dawn
Me and you and all the places we've gone
Me and you, sitting on the lawn
Me and you just singing a song;
A rhyme to shine
And to pass the time.

Me and you singing to all
Me and you were not so small
Me and you can stand up tall
Me and you just having a ball
Happy to be
You.....and Me

Barry Louis Polisar

Fantastic Shabbos

Hi All,

Had a great Shabbos! Will write about it at leisure later on. In the meantime as Esther noted on Friday, we are going to post on the weekly parashah [Torah portion] & Bible readings for study. For those who wish to read up before we post on them, these were -

11th May 2014 to 17th May 2014
  • Torah- Leviticus 26-27
  • Haftarah-Jeremiah 16:19–17:14 &Ezekiel 47-end
  • Psalms - 60 to 87
  • Ketuvim-Daniel 9 -12
  • Mishnah-Arakhin
As the Jewish week begins on a Sunday, the  parashah for this week are -

18th May 2014 to 24th May 2014
  • Torah- Numbers 1 - 4 
  • Haftarah-Hosea 2:1–22 & Isaiah 1-5
  • Psalms - 88  to 118
  • Ketuvim-Ezra 1-5
  • Mishnah-Makhshirin

Question- if you are a person of faith, how do you structure/read/use your holy books for study &/or  public worship ?

Friday, 16 May 2014

Oy, Oy, pre-Shabbat cleaning Coffee break & prayer

"I ,to the Lord  will sing;
With song I will give praise 
to the Lord, the God of Israel"

Judges 5, 3

Tonight is going to be the start of the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat or Shabbos- Jewish days start & end sunset to sunset), so I've been buzzing around like a blue-arsed fly busily scooting around the house getting things clean & tidy, preparing the food for later on (it helps being self-employed sometimes, if not monetary wise!!).  Oy, I got slightly delayed with the usual knock at the door from the  Jehavoah's Witness's, who, by now, should surely realise that I'm not interested in their cause OR at least got the hint with my lovely mezuzah (?). The answer is, I think, that they like my selection of herbal tea and strong Turkish coffee, which they get for free after having doors slammed in their faces around the rest of the village. I'm too kind, especially as they like to entreat me to a dialogue about religion, although I think they realised I wouldn't have to get out of neutral to swot that one aside.

So now you are doubtless feeling sympathetic for me but, I have to say,  I'm looking forward to Shabbat  as always . Shabbat is an amazing gift that G-d gave us; divine legislation which tell us (rather than permits us) to rest &  be encouraged as well  as, among other things , to be with family, friends, share in meals, study & debate our faith,  worship, rest, sleep & have lots of sex with your better half .

The sun is up. I'm looking forward to Shabbat. I cannot solve all of the world's problems. But I am allowed to have a brief period of rest, before I try and tackle them. So next week, we are hoping to start our 'let's get biblical' series, which will be a frank (sometimes sweary & honest ) discussion on the weeks Torah study as well as the Torah portion for that week.  Moronic fundamentalist loons DO NOT own  holy writ & in our case the  Bible, but twist and distort it, whatever shit they come out with about being 'True Torah Jews', 'Bible believing Christians' or whatever other God bothering  hypocritical label they wish to give themselves . So we'll take it back.  But until then, we'll be thinking about Shabbos.

I'm going to  end with a prayer (or is it a faint hope/plea?), as it is the countdown to Shabbat and for a brief period a time to rest, relax and rejoice.


May God protect those who are ill ,suffering, unsure, afraid today. May he bless those who are happy to bless others with that happiness. May we be more Shalom  in the name of  the God of peace,  show compassion in the name of the God of love and celebrate in the name of the God of life. May our actions & deeds be greater than our words, may we bring honour to faith and show by example the name of God. Ahmen (or Amen).

Shabbat Shalom to everyone who reads this blog, whoever & wherever you are.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Hi All,

Maria Gaetana Agnesi.jpg
Today is this person's birthday, having been born on 16th May 1718 (died 9th January 1799), follow the link here if  U would like to know the full story.

This woman contributed greatly to the fields of mathematics, becoming (via the Pope) a Professor.  She spent the last years of her life studying theology and donated much of her wealth to the poor and charity. So an inspiration to all of us really. Long before the suffragettes or the culture wars, here we have a woman being able to do what she did well in life and not being prevented from doing it, because 'the woman's home is in the kitchen'.

There are lessons and inspiration for us all.; rather than raving about whether or not the Bible was literal or being told she couldn't do something because of who she was she just went and did it, look her faith
seriously without obscurantist fundamentalist.

Real life. Real people. Real faith.

 If only we could tilt that balance back here in 2014.

Blogs to plug ? [Repost]

Hi All,

I've been updating the blog for us. If there are any themes or issues you would like us to talk about then please use the contact form  ('Contact us') opposite or this thread below. Also if you want to 'plug' a particular blog (e.g. your own) let us know and we will, in most circumstances put it up. It doesn't have to be of a particular ideology, religion or Jewish, providing it is entertaining, articulate, intelligent & regularly updated . Also just because there is a particular blog mentioned in our roll, doesn't mean to say we necessarily endorse or agree with the site in question or its position .

Shabbat Shalom to all! :)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Quote of the Day

Who says Orthodox Jews are unable to talk about sex or sexuality openly ?
“The moment you see orgasm as a transcendent experience and one that can lead to mystical union, it’s truly transformative. We don’t know how to deal with orgasm in American sexuality. For us, it’s just something that proves that the sexual encounter is over. The whole experience of sex is a means to an end. It leads to bad sex and short sex.”
– Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of the new book “Kosher Lust”

No fear only Shalom

Hi All,

I had to do write this.  it has been eating me up for a long, long time, but having read about others coming out that they were gay & in a relationship, I'm taking the plunge. I've spoken to my immediate friends and family. I hope people will be as understanding as they have been to me this morning 
( : 

My face is tears like rain
because being able to tell you
something special
has taken away my pain
my feeling of inadequacy, 
my fear, my feelings, 
my potential hypocrisy 
I feel no fear, only shalom

I've got a girl friend
Well more than just a friend
a companion, a soul mate, a lover
I'm no longer having to pretend
I can't help my feelings of whom I love
I feel no fear, only shalom
I thank my family and friends for understanding
for being loving and kind always
I know some of you don't understand,
 but love me as a sister
& for wanting to provide a loving welcome
 to my friend
I  feel no fear, only shalom

God created me in his image
He knit me together in my mother's womb,
knows my innermost thoughts
I am one of his children
He does not put a stumbling block before the blind
He restores the years the the locusts have eaten
The Merciful One, blessed be his name,
overlooks what is out of a person’s control
I feel no fear, only shalom

I can't live my life out without companionship and love
God knows this, I hope the rest of you do
Do not judge another person until you have been in their place
Don't judge me by what I am, but what I do
I feel no fear, only shalom

What is more important, the quantity of observance or the quality?
Rather than query what happens in bedrooms 
Praise what's going on in the living rooms 
welcoming guests, keeping Kosher, loving the stranger, 
not bitching, honouring people, 
being part of Torah centred families & values
I feel no fear, only shalom ...

 ...for I shall leave judgement to the Almighty. 

In the meantime we have a life to live and live it to the full. 

Hannah ...... & my girlfriend  Sarah 

Shalom Hashem Aleikhem!

Shul Notice

Hi All,

We've gone over to Disqus, which hopefully will provide a better comment platform. For those who wish to comment as anons, there is a function to do that.

Enjoy .

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Hi All, 

This is a song which is traditionally sung, by Sephardi Jews, after meals. Whilst I personally only do so during Shabbat, it is a lovely song to sing & I am determined to maintain as much of the tradition of the Sepharadim as possible (our family survived Iraqi ethnic cleansing, so it is something worth preserving). Find it being sung on this link here .

Below is the Ladino and then the  English translation : 
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Al Señor que nos crió,
Démosle agradecimiento
Por los bienes que nos dió.
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por su Ley primeramente,
Que liga a nuestra raza
Con el cielo continuamente,
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Senor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por el pan segundamente,
Y también por los manjares
Que comimos juntamente.
Pues comimos y bebimos alegremente
Su merced nunca nos faltó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Bendita sea la casa esta,
El hogar de su presencia,
Donde guardamos su fiesta,
Con alegría y permanencia.
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
.הוֹדוּ לַיָי כִּי־טוֹב. כּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ

Let us bless

Let us bless the Most High
The Lord who raised us,
Let us give him thanks
For the good things which he has given us.
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Let us bless the Most High
First for his Torah,
Which binds our nation
With heaven continually,
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Let us bless the Most High,
Secondly for the bread
And also for the foods
Which we have eaten together.
For we have eaten and drunk happily
His mercy has never failed us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Blessed be this house,
The home of his presence,
Where we keep his feast,
With happiness and permanence.
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good. His love is eternal 

Tapas Shabbat Food,Non mi mires la color, mirami la savor

Hi All,

I've finally got round to giving the complete list of last weeks Friday Shabbat meal's recipes (which we hope to make a regular column) .

This week we did various Tapas style foods, including Fish, Poultry, meat, bread, salad & vegetables. I had to do enough for 8 of us, so that is how much the recipes will make, I also assume all of the meat etc was bought Kosher ! 

These were the main dishes (I'm not going to tell you how to cook couscous as that is quite basic and or self explanatory!) .
  1.  Chreime (Spicy Tunisian Fish  stew/ curry)
  2. Pollo de Hannah en el vino tinto (Hannah's chicken in red wine)
  3. Tagine de cordero (Morrocan lamb stew/curry)
  4. Hannah glücklich Salat ( 'Hannah's happy salad')
  5. melón de de rachel con menta (Rachel's Melon's with mint)