Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Maccabeats ..... Shine On!

 I Adore Acappella .... specifically, I adore the Maccabeats, the Yeshiva University acappella group.   The Maccabeats,  have gained legions of fans and millions of YouTube views for their catchy acappella parodies and covers of other artists’ songs.  Millions have heard and seen their catchy creations online.  The result has been dozens of feature stories in print, dozens of stories broadcast on local radio and TV,  a live performance on national television, and even a dinner at the White House.  A Cappella is a long tradition at universities. It reflects a love of Music, shared fun and the ability to create and concoct harmonies.  And the Maccabeats obviously LOVE what they do ..... 

Okay,  so now you all know I have had a several years-long obsession with the Yeshiva University Maccabeats.   An all male acappella group who went viral and sort of changed the face of Modern Orthodoxy and how the goyim and some Jews view Orthodoxy.  They sang for President Obama,  they  sell T-shirts   (I own several and a hoodie, yet to be autographed, cough, cough, cough .......).      Every Jewish kid knows who they are  (and most moms too!!!).     Actually,  it was at Chanukkah two years ago that Maccabeats came to prominence for the first time & I have blogged before my love for them,  I have introduced the Maccabeats here ....    Awesome!!!!!          
They’re wonderful and talented and sweet.   And,  their first 'hit' two years ago at Chanukkah,  where they were termed   'Youtube Sensations'  as they burst on the webscene with the timely legendary Torah tale of the Maccabees was   Candlelight .... 


More than a Million views were captured,  singing engagements followed and busy became a business.  The following year, last year 5772,   saw them engage with Jewish Reggae Star
Matisyahu and a cover,  an approved re-release of his hit 'Miracle'  for the next Chanukkah Chag.   Matisyahu wrote the song. 

His rendition is   HERE

 But that wasn't all .....    This single release headlined a campaign  Miracle Match!!     This campaign linked with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation which helps children and adults suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, and other cancers and genetic disorders find matching donors for blood and marrow transplants.  It is life saving and life transforming.  A cause close to my own heart.    Every year, more than 10,000 patients in the United States alone need a transplant, and about half of them do not find a matching donor. They rely on Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and other registries to save their lives by finding their Miracle Matches.   And Chanukkah, based itself on a Miracle of Ha'Shem is all about Miracles.    Since last Chaunkkah  over $80,000 has been raised to benefit   The Gift of Life   and their efforts to register bone marrow donors and save lives. To date,  the Miracle Match Campaign has led to 24 matches and seven transplants requested, B"H!!!!

"We light candles in testament that faith makes miracles possible." 
 ~ Rabbi Nachum Braverman

This Tzedaka still continues with Maccabeats Support .......   HERE!!!!

And this Chanukkah,  Maccabeats have 'upped their game'   yet again,  and have taken things to the next level as they release their newest song/video "Shine" ,   their very first original song.  Self penned.  

And now, this Chanukkah the lads have unveiled their first original song, "Shine."

 Same Maccabeats quality, professionalism and where appropriate, humour, all wrapped up in a new, catchy song not heard nor performed before.  I particularly love the use of continuity with "Miracle" and the reappearance of the Greeks from "Candlelight."   

 Their own website introduces it thus ..... "In honor of Hanukkah 2012, we are proud to debut our first original song, “Shine.”   Shine is a song about Hanukkah and so much more, and we hope that the song and video inspire all of our fans to keep the flame of Hanukkah burning well beyond the Festival of Lights.  Since we love our fans, we’ll be honest with you. We need your help. We’re very proud of Shine, but it isn’t a parody of a wildly popular radio hit that everyone is already humming. If you want to help “shed the light in each direction” you’ll have to share and play the song for all your friends, just like we played it for you. We’re really excited to have you with us on this next stage of our fantastic journey. You can also grab the song on  iTunes.

 Last but not least, this year we are once again partnering with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation for our Miracle Match Campaign. This campaign raises much-needed funds to process tissue samples from potential donors. Miracle Match has saved lives, and could save so many more with your help. To learn more about the campaign, visit   www.makesomemiracles.com."

 Whoooo hoooo ......     But that's not all!

I oftentimes wondered what would happen to the Maccabeats when they all graduated from YU.  Would they dissappear??   Would they break up and be no more??  How terrible that would be!   It has happened &  on viewing the comments on 'Shine' it appears that a certain Astronaut (Noah) has been so sorely missed.  Not to worry.  It has been taken care of.  Graduated and unable to utilize the Maccabeats name,  certain members  (with an obvious obsessional fan following !?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!) have formed 
the "break off" group  StandFour,   these four former Maccabeats now have real lives that are too busy to allow them to travel across the country as readily as their fellow singers still students.  However, even though they won't be touring, they still want to produce quality, engaging Jewish music and videos, hence StandFour was born.   Also,  an Acappella group and also Jewish and great.   And also with an original single this Chanukkah.   I love the modern music choices.  I love them in hoodies looking all casual and hip-like. It’s beautiful acapella.  It's beautiful singing.   It's official. I'm obsessed & I adore them too.  Nobody erases who we are ever!!!!   So, What else do they StandFour

Ha'Shem.  Torah.   All that is good in our world.  I love them already!!!   Total Jewish Awesomeness!!!!   Through the Eight Nights of Chanukkah and beyond ....   Chag Chanukkah Sameach!!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Israel ~ Images of a Week at War!!

"We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank G*d we are efficient"  
~ Golda Meir ~

I've tarried way, way too long in posting this particular promised blog.  I couldn't decide what video should accompany these images, I have many, many videos of Rockets slamming into Israel from Gaza, and crying children and adults.  So, I decided instead to post the one below,  HaTikvah ... this is Israel!!!!

I'm posting Images along with the captions I originally posted.  A Vignette of War.  Israel has been subjected to many days of war,  just to survive. More than any other nation.  And is still hated and branded the agressor by all other nations.  Just because we are Jews.  This is the Truth.   Eretz Yisrael Chai!

The picture above is perhaps my favourite image from this war.  It's caption when I posted was "This awesome photo from the Israeli army deployment area near the Gaza border shows IDF Command as they prepare for a potential ground operation in the coastal enclave of gaza shows the true strength of the IDF.  This soldier's right hand connects him to his commander in the field,  his left to his Creator, Ha'Shem. The Commander in Chief!!!!!"

Israel's armies have always thus marched to victory .... with Torah Scholars at the helm. Learning & davening for success.  When we put our trust in Ha'Shem ..... Wonders Abound!!

"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses,  but we will make mention of the name of Ha'shem,  our G*d."    
~ Tehillim 20.8 ~

Israel does not make it's citizenry targets for terror, instead it shields its Citizens from Terror.  Tehillim against Tillim.  Please say Psalm 20 for the Safety of Israel this Shabbat.

Life in a Bomb Shelter in Israel.   How long would YOU be prepared to live like this family? 12,000 Rockets worth?? 4 years  worth???     12 years worth???  Should children remember childhood like this?????    This is everyday life in Southern Israel And yet we are accused of genocide in gaza???? This is a defensive war ... a Justified War.  We just need to see it through to the end and make an end of Gaza!!!!!!!!!!!   

We Shield our Children Well. We Cherish our Children. We Cherish Life,  B"H.  Why then do so many arab children die?? ...... Well, apart from obvious lies such as pretending Syrian children (arab violence)  belong to this conflict ~ which I will blog in the next week, I'Y"H ~ they are used as shields in the hope that the IAF won't target.  A hope which is more often than not realized to our own detriment.  The IDF are truly the most moral fighting force, not only in the modern day world, but in the history of warfare itself.   That is why arab rockets are launched from schools and apartment blocks,  they are useful as propoganda tools.  Alive .... as photo fodder for international anti semitic media to ask why is Israel firing on them, or as dead as an exceptional propoganda tool.  We have more respect for our children, our citizenry and life in general.  We are above animal level existence.
  Arabs apparently are not!

Why Do Arab Children Die??? ..... They are used as Propaganda Pieces by Hamas.  Repeatedly.  Media Fraud is widespread and nourished by all arab sources.  Wake up World!

Where did YOU Sleep last night??   This is where Jewish children do homework, entertain themselves sleep and eat .... would YOU live like this with your family?? More than 3 Million Israelis are in rocket range from Gaza and 1 million Jews have had to do this intermittently for 12 years.  This past week ... approximately 4 million.  Is this an acceptable level of arab terror to you??   Should we allow it continue so as to appease world opinion???


A Happy Meal in a Concrete Tube .... hmmmm??  Would you be Happy??   Jews must no longer cower in bomb shelters while their hate-filled enemies shower explosive projectiles down on them at will. This was today in Nitzan.  NO CEASEFIRE!!    Finish the Job!!!  CLEAR OUR LAND!!!!  Make Hamas History!!!!   Crush Gaza!!!!  Repopulate Gush Katif with our people & make the desert  Bloom not Boom!!!!


School in Sderot .... It's on.  Then Off.  This is School for Jewish Children.  Southern Israel Style.    On the walk home the Sirens Still Sound .....  So, Cling to Mama!

On hearing a siren citizens in Israel are instructed to lie down and cover their head with hands. A Mother Shields her Child in the Street in Ofakim. How long must this go on???   Would you continue to live like this without retaliating?    Labelled as 'Illegal' for being a Jew.  Without Justice?  Without Defence?? 

This is why Pillar of Defence!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lost Dreams & Found Dreams .....

"In the Eyes of a Child ....."

Melody for Monday.  Where did Movie and/or Music Mondays go to??   Music Monday or Film Friday?   Life got in the way and all my posts merged  ~ their importance to everyday life,  of life around as opposed to life within me grew.  I've always posted 'organically' on my blog here.  Or so I thought.  It grew with me, alongside me, my opinions opined .... and changed.  And critical times demanded crucial issues be attended to.  And events sucked me in and spit me out.  Anti Semitism cried out.  And had to be heard.  Urgently.  Jewish life ~ Yiddishkeit ~ intervened and so my original intentions are abandoned.  Long ago now.  It is our times which temper my posts.  But,  even so,  I suppose I can say I've officially been neglecting my blog .... and I Apologise.  I'm very, very sorry.  I didn't mean for it to happen.   I have been posting twitter updates and stuff.   Just not here .... Social Media is just so Multifarious now.  I've been MIA and avoiding involvment,  sort of.   Blogs are involved.  And Involving .... and  I have been trying to deal with overwhelming things .. I think it's called LIFE!    My Life.  And my posts have suffered alongside me!!!   Anyways ...... I did promise &  have prepared an 'Israel, Images of War' blog.  Also a 'War Wounded' blog,  but neither are quite ready to post publically just yet.  Apologies. Really.  I also want to post on the ongoing imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard in the US.   And of Mainstream Media Anti Semitism in the recent Gaza War.   And then, this Motsi Shabbos it is holiday time.  The Chag of  CHANUKKAH!!!! 

I don't know if I will have time to complete all pre Chag .... but I will try to post all I have mentioned, perhaps even more than one post a day.  We will see.  Catch up week to Chanukkah, IY"H!!!!

And for today, at least,  a return to Music Monday.  My listening fare this Morning.  It started with the picture above being in my inbox when I woke.  It woke a memory for me.  Inside me. Nacescent within.  Perhaps the Inscription.  I remembered something.  Something long ago & far away and I recalled a lyric.  Then I listened to this track from whence it came.  Take it where you find it  by fellow Irishman Van Morrison.  It touched me inside.  You might have to be Irish too for it to touch you.  I'm not sure .... but I did promise poetry and song.  And Laughter.  Okay, sparse laughter, but it is poetry and song.   And feeling.   And a return to posting for me. 
Self Indulgence.   On Monday.

Men saw the stars at the edge of the sea
They thought great thoughts about liberty
Poets wrote down words that did fit
Writers wrote books, thinkers thought about it

Take it where you find it, can't leave it alone
You will find a purpose to carry it on
Mainly, when you find it, your heart will be strong about it

Many's the road I have walked upon
Many's the hour between dusk and dawn
Many's the time, many's the mile
I see it all now through the eyes of a child

Take it where you find it, can't leave it alone
You will find a purpose to carry it on
Mainly, when you find it, your heart will be strong about it

Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America
Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America

So and close your eyes, leave it all for a while
Leave the world and your worries behind
You will build on whatever is real
And wake up each day to a new waking dream

Take it where you find it, can't leave it alone
You will find a purpose to carry it on
Mainly, when you find it, your heart will be strong about it

Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America
Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America

Change, change, come over, change, come over
Talkin' about a change, change, change
Change, come over, now
Change, change, change come over

I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see my shining light
I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see my shining light

I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see my shining light
I'm gonna walk down the street
Until I see my shining light

I see my light, see my light
See my shining light
I see my light, see my light
See my shining light

Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America
Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America

Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America
Lost dreams and found dreams
In America, in America, in America .....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pillar of Defence ~ A Week of War!!!!

"Then the angel of HaShem, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel".    ~  Bamidbar 14.19+20 ~

The midrash on this section ~ which is cited by Rashi ~  is that they [the Egyptians] shot arrows and catapult stones at them, but the angel and cloud caught them.  For a campaign intended to halt the barrage of rockets rained down on Southern Israel in the last week, “Pillar of Cloud” is thus a particularly apt title. Just as the cloud protected B'nei Yisrael from Egyptian projectiles, so to does the IDF protect Israel’s citizens from the Rockets of the philishti.  However, a literal translation of עמוד ענן ~  “Pillar of Cloud” ~ fails to convey fully the meaning of the allusion with total clarity to an audience not well versed in Torah. As such, the IDF chose “Pillar of Defence” as the campaign’s English designation, a conceptual translation which makes clear the intended meaning of the Hebrew.  And we KNOW in our hearts as Jews that it is HaShem who is our protection today, as always, B"H!!

"And Ha'Shem went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light,  that they might go by day and by night ...." 
~  Shemot 13.21 ~

During this week of war I actually posted a great deal,  mostly posters & pictures with brief comments just not here on my blog which I have somewhat neglected.  For that I apologise & I aim to rectify this weekend with an amalgam of those postings in this as a start to a series of blogs portraying Israel's Week at War!

On November 14th,  in response to incessant rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, the IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defense.  The operation opened when the IDF surgically targeted Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas' military wing, in the Gaza Strip. Jabri was a senior Hamas operative who served in the upper echelon of the Hamas' command and was directly responsible for executing terror attacks against Israel in the past,  most notable perhaps being commanding the operation to Kidnap & detain Sgt. Gilad Shalit in a Gaza dungeon for five years.  It was successful as you can see in the footage below, B"H!

Since Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, the terrorist group has turned the coastal area into a forward base for showering the South of Israel with Rocket Fire.  But the Missiles didn't start then  ..... In fact, Hamas has been targeting the Israeli Home Front since 2001, and firing rockets on a near-daily basis for years. The number of rocket attacks coming from the Gaza Strip, since 2001, has been put at 7,882, with an estimated 4,890 mortar attacks, for a total of 12,791 attacks. The rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip are responsible for approximately 60 Israeli deaths and 1,650 Israelis injured in that time.  The media has failed to show the seriousness of what living under such bombardment means. How terrifying and traumatising it actually is!!!  

I have blogged it before ....  Tzeva Adom .... Israel Under Fire!!!     and  Rocket Rain Requires Retribution!!!    and   A September Sunday in Sderot!!!   and in many more blogs over the past two years.  

Would you live like this
and then be branded as the Agressor??????  

For no matter what Israel does, nor how moral or defensive her actions,
harsh international condemnation persists unabated.  The IAF & the IDF are the Most Moral Fighting Force in the History of Warfare itself ....  Calling Off Airstrikes when Civilians are seen near Target areas,  Mass leafletting of warning of impending airstrikes in the area and advising civilians on how best to stay safe
.  Thousands of telephone calls and Text messages were made to civilians.  A far cry from considering civilians and children as the 'Human Shields' Hamas considers them to be.  Yet, Biased Broadcasting, Hostility and Outright Lies have persisted throughout this defensive operation in a disgraceful show of anti semitism. 

I shall take up that question separately as it is deserving of a blog to itself.  I have dozens of photographs which tell the tale of the toll of this war  ...... Images of Israel will be posted next!!

And I will send fire into the wall of Gaza, and it shall consume its Palaces
~ Amos 1.7 ~

Could Ha'Shem get any Clearer????

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ceasefire or Cowardice, Bibi??

"This is not a relaxation, it's an Israeli agreement to the rearming of Hamas. What are we getting for this?"   
Bibi on Olmert's 2008 Ceasefire ~

And yet Israel agrees to a Ceasefire in the same day as a bus is bombed in Tel Aviv?  What was the American threat or bribe, Bibi?  What caused you to sign up to such a sell out?

I would so love if you would answer my questions, Mr Prime Minister.

We had a chance three years ago to destroy Hamas in Operation Cast Lead.  Instead we cowed to international pressure.  We had a chance now to destroy Hamas.  This time with less international pressure and the supposed support of Obama.  At least that is what he has spoken to his media.  Instead of continuing our assault and removing Hamas for good, we've Retreated.   We needed to keep going, to Crush hamas, Flatten gaza and re-establish the land as part of Israel, populate the land with Jews and rebuild the cities as peaceful areas for Jews and any arabs willing to accept the sovereignity of the Jewish State.  This strategy would secure the South from Rocket Rain but also be the best guarantee of arab lives too, which are squandered by hamas.  The citizens of the South wanted this, the IDF wanted to 'finish the job'.    Why didn't we?

Fox News has said that as part of the Ceasefire deal Israel agreed to open all border crossings with Gaza, including between Gaza and Egypt.    What has Egypt got to do with anything and why was this deal brokered there?  Why were such Jew haters even included?  It obviously wasn't for Israel's good. 
Israel also agreed to ease the sea blockade. Could we really have agreed to this?   And for what .... another failed cycle of 'ceasefires'?

This is not a 'win'. It is a sell out of our Torah & our people. It's time to speak out. It's time we let our government know we will only support it when it truly protects its citizens. And this it has failed to do.  It is time to for this government to remember that elections are in the offing & if they don't represent our interests then we will look to elect those who will actually Lead Am Yisrael.  To those who will secure our land, destroy our enemies and raise our profile & pride as Jews to the anti semtic world in which we live.

"But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, then those whom you leave over will be as spikes in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you settle". 
~ Ba'midbar 33.55 ~

So, it's back to the Sound of the South, the Soundtrack of Southern Israel - פסקול החיים בארץ

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tzeva Adom ~ Israel Under Fire!

 "In a pillar of cloud He would speak to them ... they kept His testimonies and the statutes He gave them"    ~ Tehillim 99.7 ~

My thoughts today are with the families of the four people who were killed in a rocket attack on Kiryat Malachi this week and the six injured, including this Israeli baby girl.  With those struck today, a direct hit on a car in the Negev town of Ofakim injured four Jews, one seriously.  A Missile struck an Ashkelon Apartment block with again one seriously injured and five others less so.   My thoughts and prayers are there too.  With the million men, women and children who spent Shabbat in shelters. With the brave soldiers who are putting their life on the line. With all who defend Eretz Yisrael in this War .... Yasher Koach!!!!

School in Sderot ~ Classes Commence

It's faintly familiar. A war that began a few weeks after Barack Obama’s presidential election. Hamas in Gaza had been raining hundreds of Qassam rockets onto southern Israeli towns and cities, along with long-range missiles supplied by the Mad Mullahs of Iran. With just 15 seconds to run to a shelter before impact, the rockets rained in streets and schools.  And into homes. This was the situation four years ago and this is the situation today in Eretz Yisrael.  Four years on ..... Four years of intermittent yet intense Rocket Fire from terrorist controlled Gaza. For Four years the warning Sirens have announced Tzeva Adom. Colour Red. The twenty second warning to Run for Shelter.  For Four years.  Would you live like this??

Breakfast in Ashkelon

Four years ago, Israel launched Operation Cast lead to stop the rockets from Gaza. Now four years and 12,000 rockets later, we go again to war,  this time with Operation Pillar of Defense (Amud Anan).  Little has changed. On the heels of another U.S. presidential election, nearly 500 rockets have struck Israel from Gaza in the last week. One million Israelis are living in bomb shelters and Iranian-made Fajir missiles have put Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and 50 percent of Israel’s population within striking range.  Rocket Range has increased.

Morning Stroll in Tel Aviv

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system has successfully intercepted another 150 rockets this week. Yet the system is not fool-proof.  Some dozen Israelis have been injured and three civilians were killed when a Hamas rocket hit their home in the town of Kiryat Malachi.  And over Shabbat, neither Shalom nor Safety prevailed despite Israel and the IDF shielding it's citizenry from this continued terror.  Israel has decimated over 100 rocket production and launching facilities in Gaza, Baruch Ha'Shem. Israel eliminated arch-terrorist Ahmed Jabari, the commander-in-chief of Hamas terror activity who directed a decade of rockets, bombings, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.  The brave & brilliant IDF perseveres with it's protection, B"H, may they stay safe & finish the job properly this time.  May Ha'Shem guide them until Hamas is History & Gaza is Ours.  Gush Katif returned to rightful ownership & repopulated by Jews to bloom once again as Ha'Shem has promised.   And Safety Secured for Am Yisrael.

Assisting the Aged to Shelter in Ashkelon ~ 20 Seconds to Spare

Seriously,  would YOU live with this Terror and then be branded as the Agressor by an anti semitic media??  Over One Million Israelis do daily.  Tzeva Adom. Colour Red.  How would YOU Cope ..... 20 Seconds to Shelter?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Of War & Remembrance .....

The Armistice that ended "The Great War" (World War I) was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ~ November 11th, 1918.  Europeans commemorate this day as "Armistice Day",   Americans as "Veterans Day", and citizens of the UK & it's Commonwealth as "Remembrance Day".   That is this day.

Poppies grow in profusion in Belgium, in the disturbed earth of the Battlefields and cemeteries where many many of the war dead lie.  And the Poppy is the symobl of Soldierly Sacrifice.    The most famous bloom of poppies in the war was in 'Ypres', a town in Flanders, Northern Belgium, which was crucial to the Allied defence. There were three battles there, but it was the second, which was calamitous to the allies since it heralded the first use of the new chlorine gas the Germans were experimenting with, which brought forth the poppies in greatest abundance.

But, this day not only recalls the horrors of the 'Great' war for no war is great, and the 'war to end all wars'  didn't'! 

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them".

 ~ Laurence Binyon ... For the Fallen, written in September 1914 ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And finally, I want to add two selections which move me personally .....

We owe a responsibility not only to those who are in Israel but also to those generations that are no more, to those millions who have died within our lifetime, to Jews all over the world, and to generations of Jews to come. We hate war. We do not rejoice in victories. We rejoice when a new kind of cotton is grown, and when strawberries bloom in Israel.  
~ Golda Meir ~

Ha'tikva.  The Hope   If there can be hope here, then we have no right to despair.  (that's by me, lol!).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kristallnacht .... Not a Night of Broken Glass!!

Synagogues "light" the Sky
“They watched the Jews come down the road like a catalogue of colours. That wasn’t how the book thief described them, but I can tell you that that’s exactly what they were, for many of them would die. They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke, and their souls trailing behind.”

Last Night, the Night of November 9/10th, marked the 74th Anniversary of 'Kristallnacht' the Night of Broken Glass, a National Pogrom which began in Germany against Jews and is widely considered to be the Start of the Shoah,  the first step in the planned extermination of the Jewish people leading to the eventual murder of six million in the Nazi programme of genocide.  The well-oiled machine made-up of German youths known as the Hitler-Jugend dispersed into Germany’s Jewish neighbourhoods. (These kids 7,000+ strong, were White christian Nationalists armed & assisted by assorted Nazi thugs) and their mission was to break all the Jewish glass, Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.  But it is not just about broken glass, but broken lives ..... 30,000 men were gathered up and taken to Camps.  And Jewish Life in Germany Changed forever. Kristallnacht was Not a Night of Broken Glass.  It was a Night of Broken Lives.  Singed.  Shattered.  The Shoah begun!!

On the night of November 9/10th, 1938, gangs of Nazi youth, with the unofficial but clear encouragement of Nazi leaders in a carefully orchestrated outbreak of government sponsored violence, committed attrocities in Jewish neighbourhoods throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudetenlands of Czechoslovakia. They smashed Jewish storefronts and homes, destroyed and burned over 1,600 synagogues, and vandalized over 175,000 Jewish stores and businesses. Close to 2,500 Jews were killed, and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. This nationwide anti-Jewish pogrom took place during peacetime across the entire territory of the Third Reich.

Instigated by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, this murderous onslaught against German Jewry, cynically described as the "Night of Broken Glass", was a major turning point on the road to the "Final solution" of the so-called "Jewish question." It signified that the Nazi regime had crossed a Rubicon and would no longer be deterred by Western public opinion in its "War against the Jews." 
The economic expropriation of German Jewry, its complete social ostracism and public humiliation swiftly followed. Jews were banned from public transport, from frequenting concerts, theatres, cinemas, commercial centres or beaches, from using public benches. Only a fortnight after "Crystal Night,"  the SS journal, Das Schwarze Korps, chillingly prophesied the final end of German Jewry through "Fire and sword" and its imminent complete annihilation.  For that reason it is certainly proper to commemorate this harbinger of horror, the infamous date that marks the onset of this spiral of unimaginable hatred unloosed among a supposedly civilized people.  What is unfathomable to me, though, is the name by which this commemoration continues to be known.

Last Night,  Jewish communities throughout the world gathered in Shul to celebrate Shabbat & to recall Kristallnacht ~ and will unwittingly allow themselves, in some measure, to verbally embrace the very heresy that abetted the Holocaust.    'Kristallnacht' ..... 'Crystal Night' .... conjures mental pictures of something pleasant.   Like the effect of the Cool Crystal Clear Waters of a lake on a Summer's day, perhaps.  I have Crystal's hanging in my bedroom window.  They are beautiful, reflecting the light & magically producing Rainbows,  a thing of beauty, a joy to possess.  Kristallnacht does not come close to being any of those things.  Only the Anti-Semitism Shines Clear as Crystal.

It took 6 months to manufacture new glass so much was broken

And, 74 years after the horrible events of 1938 should have given us by now sufficient perspective to expose the lie of a horrible term that is designed to deceive, to promote something that is it quite clearly not .... a  deceptively descriptive term  that epitomizes the key to the most powerful methodology for murder perfected by the Nazis.  How, after all, were the Nazis able to commit their crimes under the veneer of civilized respectability?  Upon analysis, the answer is obvious. They glorified the principle of murder by euphemism.

Let's look at the language of the Nazi perpetrators .... Sonderbehandlung ("special treatment") was the way to describe gassing victims. Euthanasia was the "polite" way to speak of the mass murder of retarded or physically handicapped patients.  Arbeit Macht Frei ("Work Makes you Free") were the words that greeted new arrivals at the entrance to the death camp of Auschwitz. When the Nazis launched their plan to annihilate the remaining Jews in Poland in the autumn of 1943, they called it "Erntefest" or Harvest Festival!  And perhaps most cynical of all was the use of the term, "Endloesung der Judenfrage" ~ in English  "The Final Solution" ~  to express the concept for which civilized language as yet had no term. (The word ‘genocide' was introduced in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, who had escaped from German-occupied Poland to the US.)

Euphemisms, as Quentin Crisp so aptly quipped, are "unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne."  On the simplest level the name Kristallnacht suggests that the only terrible thing that happened was breakage of a tremendous amount of glass that would have to be replaced ~ a financial loss caused by wasteful vandalism that the government subsequently dealt with by taxing the Jewish community to pay for the damages inflicted upon them. 

30,000 Jewish Men Marched to Camps ~ Kristallnacht 1938

Kristallnacht was the German euphemism for a time of sanctioned killing. The word takes into account only the loss of 'Crystal',  not humans, and is one reason why its continued usage is so appalling to me.  I'm a lover of language,  the beauties of it's usage,  the correct application of it's grammar & perhaps that is why this is so abhorrent to me.  We need to reclaim that beauty from the Nazis & not allow further horror to be wrought from the holocaust.

But there is much more than even that .....

Dr. Walter H. Pehle, a historian specializing in modern Germany, has already pointed out that Kristallnacht's original intent was cynically propagandizing the violence into something metaphorically holding "sparkle and gleam" for Germany & the Globe.  It is that very connection that played no small role in Goebbel's choice of descriptive for a moment that the German Minister of Propaganda wanted to immortalize as a sparkling and glowing portend of a future rid of its "Jewish parasites."

Why then would we choose to identify the night of initial mass murders with a word that not only ignores everything other than broken glass, but in fact glorifies its results as gifts of crystal clear light to the distorted truths of Nazi ideology?

To remember Kristallnacht properly we must first renounce its German-given name.

We must proclaim that we commemorate not broken windows but shattered lives.

We must pledge never again to allow evil to enter our lives disguised as the good and the noble.

We must declare that no euphemisms will ever again be permitted to cloak the horrors they intend to conceal.

Anti Semitism on the Rise, Worldwide

Today, shocking to relate, the spectre of such apocalyptic anti-Semitism has returned to haunt Europe and other continents, while assuming radically new forms. In the Middle East, it has taken on a particularly dangerous, toxic and potentially genocidal aura of hatred, closely linked to the "mission" of holy war or "jihad" against the Jews.   There is nothing 'holy' about Jihad!!!

Islamist anti-Semitism is thoroughly soaked in many of the most inflammatory themes that initially made possible the attrocities of "Crystal Night" and its horrific aftermath during the Holocaust.  To the grotesque inventions of the Nazi era one must add such up-to-date libels as Holocaust denial,  which has become a state-sponsored project in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran and is increasingly pervasive in Europe & the Arab world.  Equally fashionable (and increasingly popular in Europe) is the slanderous identification of Israel with Nazism or the "ethnic cleansing" of the supposed palestinians.  Americans 'occupy' so many streets shouting slogans of Jewish expulsion,  This modernized version of inverted anti-Semitism which sails under the mask of "anti-Zionism" is today a global phenomenon, but it has special resonance in the Middle East as a result of the fraudulent "Palestinian question."

 Horrifyingly, 'Kristallnacht' or indeed the Shoah that followed has not dented or neutralized the scourge of anti-Semitism one iota.  In a sinister and sometimes devious manner, the widespread defamation and demonization of Israel has, in effect, revived fantasies of completing the murderous work of the Third Reich.   We need to recognise these libels of language for what they really are.   We need to stop masking the murderous intent behind seemingly "innocent" terminology.  Are we at all capable of learning from history?? This may well be a decisive factor in determining the future when the Jewish people once again have to stand alone in the face of concrete threats to annihilate it.  Let's no longer Stand in the Shadow of the Shoah.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hannah .... Heroine of the Holocaust!!

Yesterday, 7th November,  was the Yahrzeit of Hannah Szenes, one of my childhood heroines.  On November 7th, 1944 in Hungary,  Hannah came up before a tribunal for trial, and with no legal assistance elegantly pleaded her own cause but was convicted as a Spy, sentenced to death and shot, aged only 22.  Parachutist, Poetess &  a Jew Girl!

Hannah Szenes was born in Budapest on July 17th, 1921, to a wealthy, distinguished, and assimilated Hungarian Jewish family.  Her father, Bela Szenes (1874-1929), an esteemed Hungarian playwright died when she was just six years old ....  she grew up in his shadow to become one of Israel's most esteemed poetesses. Her works have been read throughout Israel and have inspired many to continue in the Zionist tradition of Aliyah, of building the Jewish State and eventually giving their lives for their Judaism.  Hannah is no exception here.  

 Her mother, Katharine, a lady of culture and an elegant homemaker, raised her and her brother, Giora, who was one year older than Hannah, in relative affluence and comfort in Hungary.  Little was heard about Judaism in their house.  Although their family never denied their Jewishness,  they paid no importance to Torah learning of doing Mitzvoh on a daily basis. Her father had in fact believed in Humanism and encouraged it, both in action and in speech.  At an early age,  Hannah stood out as an exemplary student.  She was enrolled in a Prestigious Protestant girls' school and was quickly seen by her teachers and fellow students as being an exceptional student.  In addition to her academic standing,  she had a charming personality and admirable speaking abilities that made her friends among the staff and student body.  She was elected to the school's Literary society as her grade representative and most excited about this. Unfortunately, the school rules barred a Jew from holding an office in the society. This was a very severe blow to Hannah.

So, Hannah, having been given a modern Hungarian education, wasn't expecting the antisemitism she was exposed to during her high school years, but this propelled her to began an exploration of what it meant to be a Jew and return to her Jewish origins. At the age of seventeen, she discovered the Zionist movement,  and increasingly came to feel that there was no room in the Hungarian world for Jews.   She joined a Zionist youth movement and began learning Hebrew in preparation for Aliyah to Eretz Ha'Kodesh. 

At the same time,  Nazism was on the upturn and Europe was witnessing major Nazi aggression.  In 1937, the question of Anschluss,  the political unification of Germany and Austria was debated in Europe.  Germany demanded the resignation of the Austrian Chancellor, Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg.  Suddenly Germany invaded Austria compelling them to submit and Schuschnigg left Austria.   These events caused tension to build indescribably in Hungary.  It became the main topic of discussion.  Shortly afterwards in 1938,  the Hungarian parliament began a debate on the "Jewish Law".  This became the Jewish Bill which reduced the ratio of Jewish representation in the various fields to a specific percentage. It also stated that the "expansion of the Jews is detrimental to the nation and dangerous".

Hannah in Hungary

With this came the 'Arrow-Crossers',  the young Hungarian Nazis who began to proliferate in the schools and streets.  Although at this point they were not threatened,  yet it was a sign of the Nazi influence in the daily life in Hungary.  Again in 1938,  the Nazi threat began to encroach on life in Europe as Hilter made his demand on Czechoslovakian Sudetenlands.   British Lord Chamberlain  entered into negotiations with him, and with the seccession of the Sudeten to Germany,  Hungary began its own mobilization.   As the second Jewish Law was announced in 1939,  the numbers of Jews in all walks of Hungarian life were to be reduced even further.  No Jew was allowed to be a member of the Parliament, a Judge, a lawyer, teacher ... the list goes on & on!!  On February 1939,  a bomb was thrown into the largest synagogue in Budapest during the Friday evening service resulting in deaths and many injuries.  War was advancing in the world's most Cultured & Civilised Continent!

As all of these tragic events were taking place,  Hannah increased her identification with the Zionist movement as the only possible solution to European Jewry's problems.  She was so Correct!!  She took deep pride in being a Jew and prepared for her life in "Palestine", as Eretz Israel was called before Independence.  She defined Zionist in the words of Nachum Sokolov, the Zionist leader of that period, as "the movement of the Jewish people for its revival."     She began to realize,  that the only hope of lessening or ending anti-Semitism is to realize the ideals of Zionism.  Only when Jews live in their own Jewish State,  granted eternally to them by Ha'Shem Himself,  with the ingathering of the exiles, could she exist without the cancerous anti-Semitism that she knew too well in Europe. 

In 1939, after finishing her high school studies, Hannah came to Eretz Yisrael to study at the girls agricultural school in Nahalal, continuing the diary that she had begun in Hungary.  She threw herself into her chores & her studies and soon became an exemplary student yet again.   Hebrew too soon became an important part of her life and she began to compose her poems in Hebrew.  She relates that she only wished that she could find her chosen spouse,  but although the boys were in amour of her,  she only would maintain a platonic relationship with them,  preferring to wait until the "right" person would come her way.   She was now inbued with Zionist ideology,  studying works of many of the various Zionist and Jewish thinkers.

Hannah in Israel

Having completed a two-year course in Agriculture, Hannah joined the S'dot Yam kibbutz at Caesarea.   She worked in the kitchen and in the kibbutz laundry, and the difficulties that she encountered are echoed in her diary. She was given a tent and survived a difficult and freezing winter there. She lists as one of her accomplishments as washing 150 pairs of socks with out going mad.   Eventually she was accepted as a member and was elected as the Supply Officer of the kibbutz.   Her choice was motivated by the preference of maintaining an anonymous status, rather than being known as "the daughter of Bela Szenes," something that would have been likely had she joined one of the kibbutz groups whose members were primarily of Hungarian origin.

In 1940 she wrote her first poem in Hebrew .....

In the fires of war, in the flame, in the flare,
In the eye-blinding, searing glare
My little lantern I carry high
To search, to search for true Man.

In the glare, the light of my lantern burns dim,
In the fire-glow my eye cannot see;
How to look, to see, to discover, to know
When he stands there facing me?

Set a sign, O Lo-d, set a sign on his brow
That in heat, fire and burning I may
Know the pure, the eternal spark
Of what I seek:  true Man.

At this time the war was raging in Europe and her heart was with her mother in Hungary and her brother who was in occupied France.  A representative of the Palmach, the armed forces of the Jewish Agency contacted her concerning a mission in Hungary.  The purpose of this was to organize and prepare the Jews for escape from the Inferno of Europe.  Her answer was that she was ready.   After a delay of several months she was accepted but her assignment required special training and enlistment in the British army.  For this she was transferred to Egypt. Upon completion of her training she returned to Haifa where she met her brother, Giora, who finally was in Israel.  Their reunion lasted for only one day.

Parachutist & Poetess

In March of 1944,  Hannah and her comrades were parachuted into Yugoslavia in order to aid the anti-Nazi forces until they would be able to commence their true mission and enter Hungary.  Hannah was the only woman in a group of infiltrators. According to the reports that were given by her comrades, she was a compelling and reassuring force in the darkness during their hiding.   Hiding in the forests with the partisans, she earned their respect and admiration. She was always enthusiastic and warm,  radiating energy in the face of death.  During this time she wrote one of her most famous poems,  entitled  

Blessed is the Match ......

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honour's sake
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling fame.

The Nazi invasion of Hungary in March 1944 postponed their plans, and Szenes only crossed the border to her former motherland in June of that year. Captured within hours of having stepped on to Hungarian soil, she was sent to prison in Budapest where she was tortured by Hungarian authorities in the hope of receiving information regarding Allied wireless codes. Within days of entering Hungary, her two co-parachutists were also captured, unaware of Hannah's whereabouts. Only one of them-Yoel Palgi-was to survive the war.  

When the Hungarian authorities realized that Hannah would not be broken, they arrested her mother and the two women came face to face with each other for the first time in almost five years. Katherine Szenes had no idea that her daughter had left Palestine-not to speak of the fact that she was now in Hungary. Initially shocked as they brought in the young woman with bruised eyes and who had lost a front tooth in the torture process, she rapidly regained her composure, and both mother and daughter refused to give the authorities the performance that would lead to the information they had sought. 

For three months the two women were near yet far, sharing the same prison walls but unable to catch more than short glimpses of each other. In September 1944, after Katharine Szenes was suddenly released, she spent most of her waking hours seeking legal assistance for her daughter, who-being a Hungarian national-was to be tried as a spy.    On November 7th, 1944 in Hungary,  Hannah came up before a tribunal for trial, and with no legal assistance elegantly pleaded her own cause but was convicted as a Spy, sentenced to death and shot. Hannah went to her death at age twenty-two in a snow-covered Budapest courtyard, refusing a blindfold in order to face her murderers in the moments before her death. Her body was buried by unknown persons in the Jewish graveyard at Budapest. 

(Katharine Szenes who escaped from the infamous Budapest "Death March," hid in that city until its liberation by the Soviet forces in January 1945. She made Aliyah to EY where she joined her surviving child, Giora, she became an instrumental part of the Hannah Szenes legend, based on her daughter's courageous life.  She brought to public knowledge by fifteen editions of her daughters diary, poetry, and plays, that have since been published in Hebrew.

In 1950  Hannah Szenes' remains were brought to Israel where they were buried in the "Parachutists' section" in the Military Cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.  In the same year a Kibbutz was founded and called Yad Hannah in her memory.

To Die ....

To die… so young to die… no, no, not I.
I love the warm sunny skies,
Light, songs, shining eyes,
I want no war, no battle cry –
No, no…not I.
But if it must be that I live today
With blood and death on every hand,
Praised be He for the grace, I’ll say
To live, if I should die this day…
Upon your soil, my home, my land.

Two movies have been made about the life of Hannah Szenes .... 'Blessed is the Match'.

And this one .... 'Hannah's War'.