Category Archives: Jewish

jewtings! :) Anything with a bitta’ Jewish in it!

I didn’t fast on Yom Kippur….. Not at least traditionally.

A sweeping statement yet fundamentally the truth.

I’ve been thinking for a while as to what I’d do on Yom Kippur. I’ve established previously that I don’t believe in G-d…. and that I do love many of the Jewish traditions. I’ve established that although I don’t believe, I have a VERY strong connection to “my people”, to “My heritage” and to my ancestors. Yet here I am, writing this at the start of, and then adding to it during Yom Kippur (So, please excuse the differing tenses!), the Jewish “Day of Atonement”. The day where you atone and repent for the things you have done over the last year, the one day a year where people who do little else religiously or spiritually all year round, decide they are going to withhold from eating… and I’m Drinking tea…. or maybe eating lunch.

Discussing my eating habits recently I realised that actually the vague adherence I keep to the laws of Kashrut (keeping Kosher) are one of the few areas in my life where I regularly exercise self control. While not strictly the rules of Kosher, I have a clear set of rules in my head and I stick to them. Monday this week, I found myself in Waitrose and for the first time in a very long time I was genuinely enticed by a chicken salad. I almost picked it up, before a voice in my head said “no, Exercise some self control!” (The Pesto Pasta was lovely all the same!)

Having thought long and hard about what keeping my form of kosher means to me, and that mainly being self control, I thought in the same vain about what Yom Kippur means to me. I have never “fully” observed Yom Kippur in the Traditional Orthodox Sense, just like I’ve never kept strictly kosher. (No Use of anything electrical, no driving, no washing, no making anything… etc)… But to me, it means time spent with my family, it means time spent in Synagogue; it means being dehydrated, hungry and feeling irritable. But as well as those things, the one thing I think of, possibly the most each year as the day approaches is the time I spend Counting Time.

Counting the time until the fast is over.

I am the one counting the pages, before checking my watch, before recounting the pages again. My mind becomes distracted from the purpose of the day and focuses on how long until I can stop my raging headache and my tummy from rumbling.

“On the tenth day of the same seventh month (Tishrei – The Month both Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur fall) you shall observe a sacred occasion when you shall practice self-denial” (Numbers 29:7). “Self denial”. The Torah is a little vague. Our ancestors interpreted “Self Denial” as not eating, as well as not washing, and not engaging in sexual relations. But is that a true representation of Self Denial today?

For me, practically Yom Kippur is a nightmare. Practically in the sense that I am a grazer. I eat 3 meals a day, but they aren’t huge. But between the meals I’m eating. Be it sweets or chocolate, or crackers or fruit, I love to eat. I think this is partly the reason that I find Yom Kippur so difficult – because my body is expecting snacking or a cup of tea. I’ve thought for a few days as to how I can help reduce the want to graze, how to survive the fast, how to distract myself from counting pages and time to focus on the actual purpose of Yom Kippur – To make yourself a better person in the coming year.

Thinking about what I could do to pass the fast, led me onto thinking as to if I actually wanted to fast. I thought long and hard at what I felt fasting would achieve and concluded that actually other than the piercing headache, hunger and distraction, personally the fast wouldn’t achieve anything potentially lasting.

In my commute, I have been blessed (and when I say that, I mean it) with a solid central part of my commute being underground. Underground where the phone signal doesn’t reach. Being phoneless means I have had to find something else to pass the time. I’m thankful for this time as it has enabled me to start reading again. As the northern line rattled its merry way north, on the night before Yom Kippur I was deep in the final pages of Schindler’s Ark. Since Poland, I’ve been meaning to read it, and this commute has given me the chance to finally read it. As the train rattled out of the Tunnel toward East Finchley, I felt the customary “East Finchley Vibrate” of both my Phone and my Work phone. For the first time I found this really inconvenient.

Engrossed in the book, the vibration made me anxious and it distracted me. On one hand I wanted to carry on reading, finalising the complex story I’ve been reading for weeks, yet on the other hand I was bound by the buzz to stop reading and stare at the lit screens of my phones, reading who wants to play candy crush, looking at photos of friend’s last meals before the fast or looking at emails from work. Whilst the prisoners of Zwittau , in the book, were liberated from the sub-camp that was Schindler’s factory, I was, you could say, incarcerated by the urge to stop what I was doing and flick aimlessly down social media, checking my emails and watching pointless updates about food.

I am undoubtedly digitally addicted. I work in IT. I love Technology, Gadgets and things that ping buzz and light up. I am constantly checking my phone, thinking I’ve got a notification, writing messages, sending pictures and liking posts. Not a day goes by without a considerable amount of “Idle time” spent aimlessly on my phone. Even on Rosh Hashannah and previously on Yom Kippur, I’d find myself flicking aimlessly.

With that in the forefront of my mind, and with the conscious realisation that for the next 24 hours I didn’t actually need my phone, at about 8pm…. I switched off.
The last time I switched off, was 2 years ago. I had no choice. I was on a cruise. We were at sea. There was no signal, the phone was useless. (Lord did I try to get signal – on the top deck of the boat pointing at the land, refreshing the empty list of unavailable networks). Yet now, 8pm on the 10th October 2016, I found myself consciously choosing to switch off.

Just before switching off, I was heating up my dinner. I found my-self aimlessly scrolling as per normal. Frantically scrolling through nothing. Re-looking at old posts, totting up how many likes I’d gotten here and there aggressively time wasting with no purpose.

Once I’d eaten my dinner and had started washing up… it was when I had the rubber gloves on that the final straw broke this Camel’s back. I’d just put the gloves on, just run the water, when *Buzz* *Buzz*. “For Goodness sake” I muttered as I took one glove off my hand to be distracted by the glaring screen…. A spam email…. For Goodness sake” I muttered again, and decided that was enough. I’d already turned my laptop off and had set my tablet to flight mode to allow me to write without interaction. (I’m dyspraxic – it’s my version of pen and paper!!) I pressed the power button, I held the power button, and then I pressed power off. I took the currently silent iPhone from my pocket, held the power button, slid the slider and both phones were plunged into darkness.

Lying in bed is a funny feeling. Firstly I noticed it’s 10:30pm. For me that’s pretty early. I am often up late reading random articles people share or chatting to friends etc. Finally I’m experiencing that myth I talk of often… an early night!
Not only is the early night funny, but I’m consciously aware that normally I’d waste valuable sleeping minutes distracted by the old stale news feeds of my phones.
Without the distraction, there was more time for a quick spot of reading, following which, sleep came easy!

Waking up was again interesting. I overslept. Majorly. Which is odd because I had such an early night and compared to a work day was having a lie in anyway! Once I did actually wake up, my default action was to roll over and reach for my phone. On rolling over, I realised it wasn’t there and rolled over the other side and got out of bed!

I decided post lie-in not to go to synagogue this morning… Arriving late at our Synagogue is a little awkward plus, by the time I got there, the morning services would be nearly over. Instead I’ve sat talking to mum who is feeling ill and I’ve done more reading and more thinking. (and a little dozing!) I’m incredibly relaxed.
Frankly I’ve not missed it. I’m not craving it as much as I thought I would be…. or really at all! There was an odd time that I wanted to look something up, and a time I considered checking my phone to pass a moment of time or just to see what other people are up to. But from this I have learnt, that I don’t need to seek or give the constant approval available from having my smart phone attached to me 24×7.

After getting dressed and eating some food, I decided it would be nice to go down to the hospital and visit Grandma who is currently in. Often I’d find myself sat in the room with her idly flicking through my phone whilst talking to her. Sharing my attention between two. Not today. We sat and chatted at length about all different things, giving her my full attention. Walking out the hospital I felt really good.

During my visit, mum had spoken to someone there who came down to see grandma and asked me to call mum. I could have very easily taken this opportunity to turn my phone on and be met by a barrage of notifications. I made a point of not turning my phone on, but borrowing grandma’s to phone home – I knew that by turning it on, I’d become distracted and so decided to exercise higher self control to not turn it on at all!

I came home from the hospital and got dressed and went to Synagogue. It was pretty
uneventful apart from the 47ish second Tekiah Gedolah Blown by my brother! I noticed that I was not interested in how many pages were left, how many minutes, or seconds… but was happy to be sat there joining in.

What was exceptional was that upon leaving Synagogue, I had no urge to turn my phone on. In fact, I drove home, came in, got changed and still didn’t turn my phone on. If anything I started to feel like actually I didn’t want to turn my phone on at all.
I’ve not craved my phone like I normally crave food. I didn’t really think explicitly about food. Lunch time came and I had something to eat before carrying on with my day. I’ve not been distracted by my usual distraction, and yet in removing something else, I’ve not really been distracted by that either.

Removing the distractions, you could even say fasting from my phones, has allowed me to focus more on personal reflection and what I’d like to change personally in the coming year, a process that’s roots seem stem this year from my extreme reaction to some drugs in September. Removing the distraction has allowed me to focus more on talking to my family, writing this post and actually relaxing on what is supposed to be not just a day of repentance but also a day of rest.

So there you have it. I didn’t fast on Yom Kippur. Not at least in the traditional sense. But maybe in a more modern sense, I’ve learnt the value of spending time without constantly seeking reinforcement through likes, I’ve learnt not to constantly need digital conversation, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, but most of all, I’ve learnt how to pass Yom Kippur without counting the pages, the hours, the minutes, the seconds, until it’s over.

Day 5: Far From The Home I Love

Today completely involved things that could be done at home…. Almost.

I had a little lie in this morning, and at midday we went to Costco! So much of Costco here is the same as Costco at home… But there are some differences… Prices for example!

Costco here does fuel… I worked out that the fuel here, from Costco was under 20p a litre! Crayy!

From Costco we went accross to a TKMaxx style shop except it had a selection to make our TKMaxx’s look ameture…. It gave me a headache!!

With that we went back home before heading for the bus… we missed the bus by about 10 seconds and Jemma very kindly chased it. The driver noticed we were following him and pulled over to let me on!
The traffic was awful, but we only picked up one other person and the driver was friendly and chatted away.

The people here are much friendlier!

Once in town, I headed straight to the TKTS booth under the steps in Time Square and crossed my fingers. I got to the window and there were still tickets available for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF!

I got the most amazing seats in the stalls at half price.

What a bloody amazing production! Equal measures of laughter and tears. The characters portrayed perfectly by the actors, and as always with Fiddler, I ended up sobbing! Very few shows make me cry!

After my waterworks, I wandered back through Times Square to the Port Authority Bus station… Walked right to the back for a ticket, as had now become habit, and then waited at gate 20 for the bus to whisk me back to Montclair… Which funnily enough is Sister town to Barnet!

Thanks New York… You’ve been amazing. Tomorrow morning starts the next leg. Bring on the Florida Sun!

The Flight & Day 1: Baby It’s Cold Outside

To say its cold is an understatement. Freezing piercing cold is probably closer… And its set to get colder still this weekend…!

Before we get on to today a quick run down on the flight….

Following a quick trip on the funky transit train from the main building to Terminal 5b, I was at my gate – as always it was the furthest gate in the building!

Boarding was quick and easy and soon I found myself in the middle of the plane in one of the middle two seats. Cozy…. And we were off.

I was ready with a TV plan – I knew I wanted to watch Adele at the BBC but couldn’t get the TV to work. As soon as the seatbelt light went off the guy in the row in front called the air hostess over for the very same thing….

Now, while I joke that “turning it off and on again always fixes the problem”… That’s exactly what solved it! Although that meant turning EVERYBODY’S TV system on and off… A process which took nearly 15 mins!

Eventually we up and running and Adele was singing! Breakfast was as good as a hermolis airline breakfast. You do the math. I did have a good game of “Catch the coffee” during some of the turbulence… No spills!

When the captain came on to say we were making our final descent and to prepare for some turbulence due to the 25-45mph cross winds, nothing could quite prepare me for what I was about to experience. At one point G forces were similar to that of a theme park ride! As it happened however, the actual landing part of landing was the smoothest I’ve ever experienced!!

Anyway… I arrived! The Journey to the city was pretty uneventful but I very early on learnt that the subway in New York makes our Tube look classy. It’s a bit more… edgy… 😉 Following some expert instructions, I made it to the bus station where the lovely Jemma was waiting for me! (With a Starbs, obviously!)

We went straight to times square for a look around. Wow! It makes Piccadilly Circus look amateur! People everywhere bright lights screens shops everything! Craziness!!!

So many Screens... so many lights!
So many Screens… so many lights!

From Times Sq. (with a quick stop at Cake Boss’s city shop) we got the bus to Montclair New Jersey where I’d be staying… had a mini tour of Montclair and I even go to go into Whole Foods (WOW!) before eventually heading for bed and sleeping in until 10!

This morning we got the bus and headed back into town! From the bus we got the subway to the Brooklyn bridge… and we walked across! Wow what a view!

From the start of the walkway....
From the start of the walkway….

As we went further and further across the bridge the view got better and better! While talking about the view it’s probably a good time to mention that the weather today, while it looked sunny with blue skies, was actually around -8. BLOODY FREEZING.

Thankfully the bridge wasn’t too windy and I managed to get some nice photos and a panorama:

Artsyone

The View from the Brooklyn Side
The View from the Brooklyn Side
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!
A little panorama from the Bridge. Spot the Jem!

Once we got to the Brooklyn side, we were a bit clueless as to where to go… and after a little walk Googled “Jewish Deli Brooklyn”… we followed google maps and turned up (Via a quick Shpruntz Round Trader Joes.. Noch) at Shelsky’s Of Brooklyn. WOWSER.

Food that I can’t explain. Sweet, Savory, Pickled, Gefitle’d you name it! We got some Rugalech and some Halva. OH MY. It was like a little corner of Jewish heaven had exploded in my mouth.

The owner came over and started talking to us explaining that he wasn’t supervised kosher as it was too expensive and there wasn’t a market for it – Lots of the Jews from Brooklyn have started to move out. While we were talking some Chabadniks came in, Wished us all Good Shabbos… Asked if we’d got Shabbat Candles / Laid Tefillin today, had a chat…so friendly!

From Shelsky’s we got the subway back to New York and went to Russ and Daughter’s. The wait for a table in the cafe was going to be 35 mins so we went for a walk and waited for them to text us! While we waited we walked up to Katz’s Deli. Very different to Russ… a Different sort of New York Jewish Deli. Quickly, the phone buzzed and we went back to Russ’s.

WOWSER again.

Food you just can't explain!
Food you just can’t explain!

What looks like simple latke, eggs and Salmon… I can’t even begin to explain how it tasted! SO SO SO GOOD. They smoke their own fish, and make their own latkes (Not so sure about the eggs!) but boy oh boy was it delicious! I took one of the latkes to go as I couldn’t finish it!

From there I was left alone in the Big Apple! (AH!) I went for a walk from the bus station to central park and then to the shopping mall – The Time Warner Center. Very nice! I had a little wander, found some free wifi, got a Cawfeee and made some calls home!

From there I walked back to Times Square as I’d watched it getting dark from Starbs! As amazing as Times Square was during the day… it was even more intense and immense at night!

For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies... here's one for you!
For those complaining of the lack so far of selfies… here’s one for you!

... and a Panorama of Times Square at night!
… and a Panorama of Times Square at night!

Then from Times Square, with achey legs, I made it back to the bus station, and found the correct bus back to Montclair! Thankfully the driver knew where to stop for me and soon I was back for dinner! I noticed at the Ticket Booth there was a certain musical at half price… on Broadway…. I might have to go and get a ticket… How do we keep our balance?

… and on that note… it’s 11pm here… or 4am at home so I bid you all night night…. or by the time you read this… a good Saturday morning!

I am a Jew

Since Lord Sacks shared a video, “Why am I a Jew” Just before Jewish New Year, I’ve basically been thinking most of this and was going to write a blog post….. Then, just now I saw this video on my facebook home page.
It’s 6 minutes long, and probably 80% just one word, But well worth a watch. One word, of only three letters, it reminds me more and more that we are one big family.
To those who ‘aren’t Jew’: Watch, Learn – This is makes up what is part of the “Connection” I always fail to find the words to properly explain.
To those who ‘Are Jew’, or at the very least a little “Jew-Ish”… I promise you will agree with at least one of the statements in this video!

עם ישראל חי – The children of Israel Live.

Day 1- 12th September

So, the day has finally arrived…. Cruise day. Its been long awaited and much anticipated, but as I find myself sat on my ones, in near silence, at the front of the ship, its clear that cruise time has very much arrived!!

We woke up this morning at some ungodly hour – before 8! *shudders* Put our cases in the car and set out early to Southampton to avoid the Boat show traffic…. and oh how we avoided the boat show traffic!!! In a Phillips family first, we were that early, we had to stop in a service station to kill time!!!

Boarding the ship was rather uneventful, but let’s get one thing clear – it ain’t small! I was expecting it to be larger…. Wider perhaps. Essentially however its a 14 storey floating 5* hotel!

We had a wander round…toured the Spa, Health club and Gym (I can say I’ve been to the gym today!) and then went for lunch!

Anyone who’s ever eaten lunch with me on camp knows how much I enjoy the prospect of a “multi-carb lunch”… The more different types of carb, the better…. I partook in pasta and bread, but could have added potatoes rice, different bread and I’m sure a few more…. I think this might continue!!

After lunch we carried on wandering and exploring… And checking if our cases had arrived. At 3.30ish we were called to do the evacuation drill – rather bland to be honest! (And the life jackets don’t have a cord to inflate them!! Bores!)

After the drill we went out on the deck to watch us sail away…. Soon we were out of Southampton and sailing!

Sailing, We are sailing..... (Byee Southampton!)
Sailing, We are sailing….. (Byee Southampton!)

 

 

At 5pm we went down to the conference room to do candle lighting…. We were joined by two stereotypical looking (and talking) “North West London Jews”… We’re yet to find our mutuals but they’re from Bushey – so I’m sure we will!! (Update: We didn’t)

Also joining us (late) were two young girls…. One wearing a long dress which went to her knee, and covered her elbows… she looked quite frum…. her friend however barely looked Jewish…..

They sat at the back and didn’t say much. As mum went to light the candles with the women from Bushey, they invited the two girls up with them…. When the blessings were said, the two girls looked rather confused (and horrified!) … They refused kiddish wine and weren’t interested in the BEAUTIFUL challah….

Turns out they were there by mistake, wandered in not knowing what was going on, and then scuttled out embarrassed soon after!!!

Lovely Challot and Sweet, Sweet Manischewitz!
Lovely Challot and Sweet, Sweet Manischewitz!

We’ve now unpacked and settled in, and I find myself in the quiet, sat out on the helipad at the front of the ship, in near silence. Just the water lapping the sides of the ship. The sunset is wonderful and it’s even not too chilly! Seems our adventure has really begun….

Sunset from the Helipad
Sunset from the Helipad

Now, it’s time for our first dinner (casual dress…thankfully!!)

 

Click here for Day 2!

Post Camp Depression

A non medical paper on the Causes, Symptoms and Treatments/Remedies.

 

After Camp, many people young and old suffer from a pseudo-illness known as “Post Camp Depression” (PCD). This blogpost sets to outline the major Causes, Symptoms and Treatments/Remedies of Post Camp Depression.

Update: Sometimes this pseudo-illness is known as Post Camp Blues (PCB). For the purpose of this paper, it will be referred to as PCD.

 

Causes:

What causes Post Camp Depression? Any combination of the following:

Loud Music:

From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you are blasted with the top tunes of the moment. Breakfast to Beyonce, Lunch with La Roux and Dinner with DJ Capser (and his cheeky +1 called “Slide”). From the morning after camp, your body is expecting exposure to TUNES… but your mum won’t allow you to play any music before 11 am.

 

Hugs:

On camp, whenever you see anyone you get a hug. You sit down for a few minutes, you have a hug. Good morning *Hug*. Good Night *Hug*. It’s a LOT of hugs. Back home, you see someone at school/Work you can’t just give them a hug… or if you do, they’ll probably think you’re a screw loose.

 

Ruach:

Translated literally from Hebrew, Ruach means Spirit. But it’s more than just spirit…. It’s that sense of family you develop at camp. The Chants, the Banter, the feeling of togetherness.

 

Carbs:

You’re on the go from 7 am till 10+ pm… You need the energy. The best way to get that energy is Carbohydrates. Pasta, Pizza, Chips, Wedges… you name it, you’ve eaten that form of Carbohydrates on camp… If you ate that at home you’d feel sick, (as well as become insanely overweight etc) but on camp you use that energy!

 

Shabbatmosphere.

If you go on a Jewish Camp, and it’s over Friday/Saturday then you will encounter Shabbat.  (The Jewish Sabbath.. if you’re not Jewish, you can probably skip this one!)… the whole camp comes together as one family, the atmosphere is intense, and Havdallah is something else. Your first shabbat back home just isn’t the same…your Boobah whines that your taking too long to bless the Palwins no 10 and you should just pass it round already, and your family don’t do the “Nai Nai Nai’s” let alone Havdallah at all!

 

Symptoms:

 

Symptoms vary from Case to case, but usually include one or more of the following:

Facebook Statuses / Tweets:

“HAD THE MOST AMAZING TIME ON CAMP”… “MeT sO mANy AmaZing PeOPLe, Ova Da LASt wEEk”…… “missing you all so much”…. “So Tired, Just slept for 10000000 Hours”…

A common symptom. Facebook statuses and tweets about the amazing time that’s been had, or how tired people are. Eventually your whole news feed is filled with people from camp declaring how tired they are and how much they miss each other.

 

Nasty Photos:

You can guarantee that on the third day, when you’ve had about 4 hours sleep over the whole camp, someone will brandish a camera. They will photograph you looking like you’ve been dragged repeatedly through a prickly bush. This photo will then appear on facebook…. to be complimented by a shower of comments from people missing camp, constantly pushing the worst photo in the world, back to the top of everyone’s news feed.

Huskier than a Husky Dog:

You Over did the ruach. You sung so loud, chanted so hard, that you have no voice. Anything you do have either squeaks or grates into garbage… Sign Language becomes your main means of communication. Well done, you’ve had a good camp!

Reunions:

You’ve been home 2 days from camp, yet you have already booked tickets to some far out town (for those in London, that’s anything outside the M25)… Or all your local friends are meeting up together in town. You’ve just spent a week together, but you want another few hours.

 

Skype:

“Yes Mum, I know its 3am, But I’m on Skype still… I’ll go to bed soon”. Once it was MSN, Nowadays its Skype. What’s the maximum number of people that can skype at once? You bet most people just back from camp can tell you! Keeping in touch for hours, even though you’ve just spent a week with each other 24×7.

 

Countdowns Till Next Camp:

“OMG OMG only a Billion days till Summer Camp!!!! #Excited” I know someone that became a bit famous for this…. knowing exactly how many minutes and seconds till the next camp is not the first sign of madness, yet simply a symptom of PCD.

 

Over Playing “That Camp Song”

No matter how many times you play it, you still smile and laugh along. Even after the 10th consecutive repeat it’s still fresh. You don’t care how often you hear it, it’s good memories….Even if you could never quite master the dance properly on camp.

 

Treatment / Remedies

 

No single treatment or remedy has been proven 100% effective. As PCD shows a different combination of Symptoms in each case, I recommend at least two of the following treatments in parallel.

 

Organise Those Reunions:

Public places hate it when there are more than about 3 people in a group. Be the rebels that meets up with 30 friends from camp. (your sheer number alone will terrorise the old folk trying to do some quiet shopping). Go to the park, Play Guitar, sing songs… Recreate camp… Just not at camp!!

 

Learn The Maximum Number Of People Who Can Skype At Once:

Talk to your friends… keep your post camp relationship as close as your camp one! These people are likely to stay with you for a while… Let’s face it; if they can last a week with you 24×7, then the’re a keeper.

 

Dig Out Photos From Many Camps Ago:

We all have the photo from camp many years ago, when you’re in fancy dress or stood next to someone… and it’s funny… perhaps for everyone else and not you… but hey, no pain, no gain! Share that photo… share someone else’s photo… get the banter flowing, relive the memories.

 

Strepsils, Strepsils and more Strepsils (Or any other equivalent brand of throat soothing lozenge)

There’s only one way to cure that sore throat. Clearly it’s not by resting your voice… Oh no, its the repeated consumption of sickly sweet Strawberry or Blackcurrant Strepsils. On the hour, Every hour… maybe even half an hour… Without Kids going on camp, Strepsils would have gone broke YEARS ago!

 

Overplay “That Camp Song”

Make your Mum and Dad Hum it. Teach the dog the dance you couldn’t master on camp.  Play that song so many times you hear each instrument play each individual note…. but smile each time.

 

Shabbatmosphere-ise:

Ok, that’s an even sillier, even more made up word. But if you’re Jewish, Try and bring some of that Shabbatmosphere home.  Say the blessings together, Say grace after meals together… Sing the songs… and if your Booba Complains… Use the same selective hearing she uses, when you remind her that she owes you pocket money!

**MOST IMPORTANTLY:**

Apply for Next Camp:

There may be over 200 days until the coach departs for the next camp…. but who cares?! Book your seat, reserve your tent, register your ruach… get yourself applied and then post a bragging status about it. Apply as the first person just in case there is a prize!!!

Small Print:

Not all sufferers of PCD will suffer due to the Causes above. Likewise, not all sufferers will show symptoms, or be successfully treated by the treatments above.

Side effects may include Drowsiness, nausea, Sore throat, and addiction to Strepsils. 

Please read through included sheet before taking any treatment. 

Use only the prescribed dose and no more, else bad things may or may not happen to you.

See you next camp! 😀

What’s in a nickname?

On the 13th of September I tweeted a link to @TimesIndyEditor The Times/Independent Editor[Martin Buhagiar] ‘s ‘Opinion Piece’ on the use of the word “Yid”

YidTweet

To read the article (I suggest you do!) Click here

In hindsight, where I wrote “Brilliant” I actually probably meant “thought provoking”.

What followed was a tweet from @CllrRobertRams asking me “Why is it their [Spurs fans] decision to “turn a negative into a positive” what makes it their word?”

I spent that lunchtime deep in thought and reading a number of articles on the use of the word “Yid” in Society and especially in Nazi Germany…

[@CllrRobertRams Wrote a reply to the Times/Independent Editor which can (should) be read here]

History of the word “Yid”

As I sat there that lunchtime thinking things through… I decided to do some research. As a starting point… I thought I’d simply place the word “Yid” into Google. The result sent a chill down my spine.

YidOnGoogle
(I took this screenshot today – so the fixture is different… the idea is the same)

Before any mention of the meaning of the word, the Next Fixture for Tottenham Hotspur is blast onto my screen.

Interestingly, next to the latest Spurs fixture is a box from Wikipedia. My eyes are instantly drawn to the, last sentence.

 It is not usually considered offensive when pronounced, the way Yiddish speakers say it, though some may deem the word offensive nonetheless.

Ignoring the Spurs clutter, I click onto wikipedia. Instantly, my eyes are drawn halfway down the page. All I need to see is four letters for my heart to skip a beat. I feel cold. Instantly my mind jolts back to 2012. Stood in what’s now a museum but was once Synagogue, in a now “Jew-desolate” town in Poland. A Photo on the wall. Jewish people being rounded up to be taken to concentration camps. Upon their arms, a yellow band. Upon the band, a yellow star. Upon the star the word “Jude”. The term “Yid” comes from the German word “Jude”. Jew.  Proudly stamped by Germans on the race they sought to destroy.

Following the thoughts about the photos, I thought for a moment about the time I spent in Aushwitz-Birkanau. The place where the puddles are grey, where I felt constantly sick, where so many died.

To me the word Yid, was sealed in my mind. Discriminatory. DO NOT USE.

I read on through wikipedia especially the section “Usage in Yiddish”. This section explains with almost a surprised tone:

In Yiddish, the word “Yid” is neutral or even complimentary.

While it goes on to explain ” it is frequently used to mean simply “fellow,” “chap,” “buddy,” “mate,” etc., with no expressed emphasis on Jewishness”  My mind reminds me that the use of the term “Yid” in football, is not spoken in Yiddish nor is it meant as “fellow, chap, buddy or mate” ESPECIALLY when chanted with the “Hissing of the Gas Chambers”.

While all this festered in the back of my mind… I kept up with the general gist of news stories on the matter, but I’ve had a very busy two weeks, so thought less on the matter.

Not Just “Yid”

My concerns returned today when reading a tweet from Saira Kahn – A British Muslim who was runner up on ‘The Apprentice’ and subsequently I remember watching as a child her present “Beat the Boss” on CBBC.

 

"For all those who think Muzzie women can't run! Bite me!!
“For all those who think Muzzie women can’t run! Bite me!!

Instantly, my mind raced. “If I was to call someone a “Muzzie” what would happen to me?”

So I asked the question… I had nothing to lose. I was curious:

@steveeypips > @IamSairaKahn Tell me… If you heard a non-Muslim refer to Muslims as “Muzzies” Would you not be offended? #question

Her answer took me a moment to comprehend. It almost shocked, and at the same time amused me.

"my hubbie calls me Muzzie every day - I love it and think its cute"
“my hubbie calls me Muzzie every day – I love it and think its cute”

A little shocked, and a little confused, I took to google yet again. This time, Twofold.

1) Who is Saira Married to? (Just out of curio)

2) What does “Muzzie” actually mean?

 

Results were as follows:

1) Saira is married to a man called “Steve Hyde”. Whom I assume by the way she answered my question with “my Husband” is not Muslim.

 

2) “Muzzie” does not have as big and bold of a statement as “Yid” does… However the first link says enough.

The first link is Urban Dictionary, and the caption says: “A term used to reference a Muslim. Although not strictly a pejorative, usage in certain contexts may be considered offensive” Four out of six definitions on urban dictionary suggest “term for Muslim” and the ‘context sentences’ are shocking!! (Urban Dictionary Link)

Saira told me that “words don’t hurt me – I am above it, I just don’t see it as offensive” That’s easy to say when you call yourself it, but what if called it by others?

I looked back on her original tweet and I noticed that @djgaryr83 asked a similar question. Interested in an alternative view I put in a reply to one of his tweets. Saira replied “each to their own- I’m a Mussie and proud- I own it”

I thought for a moment…. “I own it”…this sounds familiar… I cast my mind back to something @CllrRobertRams asked me: “Why is it their[Tottenham fans] decision “to turn a negative into a positive” What makes it [“yid”] their word?”

I pondered, wondering how the greater Muslim population felt. Foolishly I asked:

“No offence to your fine self but I wonder how wider “Muzzie” population feel. (already regretting using “Muzzie”)”

BEFORE I sent that tweet, I already felt bad. The word had not been published yet I felt the need to apologise.

@djgaryr83 also replied asking:

"are we to assume as 'muzzie' is a shortened term for Muslim and acceptable. is the term 'Paki' fine for Pakistani"
“are we to assume as ‘muzzie’ is a shortened term for Muslim and acceptable. is the term ‘Paki’ fine for Pakistani”

 

When Saira replied to the question with “I’ll let you decide” I felt a little let down. Almost as if she’d accepted defeat for want of an “easy life”. I was eager to know if the word “Muzzie” is acceptable to Muslims so included the Muslim Council of Britian in my last reply.

 

I thought the situation through and possibly over thought it a little. But boiled it down to the following:

1. @CllrRobertRams asked me, knowing I do some voluntary youth work “if you heard a kid at brigade[Where I volunteer] use the word[“Yid”], what would you say them?

I answered Robert saying that for the older kids, I’d ask them if they knew it’s meaning, talk to them about it and ask them to stop.

THIS WOULD BE THE SAME WHETHER, I HEARD “YID” OR “MUZZIE”. I would not tolerate it’s use. (and for that matter any other word typically associated to be derogatory to others)

 

2. If I heard someone refer to someone Jewish or not jewish as a “Yid” OR refer to someone Muslim, or likewise not muslim as a “Muzzie” in whatever context, I’d have the same reaction. It’s simply not acceptable, in the same way as you wouldn’t refer to someone as a “Paki” or a “Nigger”, you wouldn’t call someone a “Muzzie” or a Yid”.

 

3. “Who owns words?” Really, truthfully, no one owns words. I own the words you are reading now, as a collection, on this screen… yet I do not own any individual word of my own. (I must add for the pedants, that patented words are slightly different, but “Yid, nor “Muzzie” is not patented”)

While words are “un-ownable” their meanings are not. By saying “I own it” does that mean that it’s ok for you to call yourself it? What happens if others call you by that word, and then if others call others by that word? All of a sudden things could grow out of hand becoming a pyramid effect, especially if the world has an ambiguous meaning.

 

David Baddiel launched a campaign to “Kick the Y-Word out of football” in 2011 which I feel personally was badly publiciesd as I was only made aware of it by @CllrRobertRams. The Campaign pages on Kickitout.org (http://www.kickitout.org/1307.php) also adds comment from a Jewish Woman who’s father experienced the Marches led by Oswald Mosely and the Blackshirts in the East End of London, a predominantly jewish area, 1936.

“My poor dad God rest his soul fought the blackshirts in the east end. He used to tell me stories of walking along with my mum with these Jew haters walking behind him calling him a ‘yid’.”

I don’t think I need to clarify that they weren’t referring to the football club he supported.

 

I could write all night and all day about the topic, interjecting my point of view into what I feel right, or wrong, and how I feel we can stop/change the habits of people.

I know that it will be difficult to change the views and actions of those around us. Racism is everywhere – Every individual person has their own views, influenced by other people that they interact with…

But personally, I feel that, in the same way I wouldn’t call a randomer a “Paki” or a “Muzzie” Whether they feel they “own the word” and accept its use or not… we should’t allow Tottenham Hotspurs fans to be called or call themselves “Yids” just because they now ‘feel’ they own a word, used by so many others to oppress a people.

 

I’d really appreciate hearing the views of others. Comment on here, Tweet me: @steveeypips or Email me: admin@stevenphillips.me.uk

 

Steven

Poland – One Year On

If someone said to you, that a holiday they’d had a year ago was still causing them to ask questions and was instilling wonder, you’d probably think they were loony. Yet, nearly anyone you ask who’s taken a trip to Poland, to visit the sites where both the Jewish people lived and died, might tell you that their trip still lives afresh in their minds.

Nearly a year on, (This year’s trip is nearly back from Poland) I’m still battling the same questions of faith that I was facing a year a go (Mainly, “do I believe in God?”) and I’m still wondering about the times faced by so many Jewish people whom lived in Germany, Poland, and countries affected by the Holocaust.

Although battling faith, one thing remains certain. The people that suffered were my ancestors. Ok, perhaps not directly as my family links to the holocaust are very distant… but the Jewish people, from whom I “Belong”… Those whom many traditions, the actions I take day in and day out and the way I feel about things are somehow related to me.

A year ago, I decided to uptake a journey, Physically, mentally and emotionally – back to the places which were once some of the epicentres of Jewish life.

On arrival in Poland we Started our Visit “at the end”. We went straight from the Airport to a Cemetery in Warsaw. In many ways, a cemetery not much different to my Local Jewish Cemetery in London. Although this was the “end” for some people… this cemetery was to be the most peaceful rest for the bodies of deceased, I was to see over the next few days.

 

We visited the Last remaining part of the Ghetto wall in Warsaw, Strangely hidden between some flats… Almost forgotten. We visited the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, The Umshagplatz – Where the Jews of Warsaw were loaded onto trains.  All of this so far, was the first day.

 

On the second day, we boarded a bus to Treblinka. Deep in the forest, Hiding away. Now it’s nothing but a memorial. A Memorial to the 800,000 Who died there. On arrival, we walked down a path, which ran next to slabs laid out in the place of the train tracks. I walked along the train tracks 800,00 were taken down, during the last few minutes of their innocent lives, packed into a cattle carriage. The memorial, 17,000 stones, in the fielded area which once was the Extermination Camp. Interlaced with a few photos of what once stood there… 17,000 even when shown in front of you, is a number you cannot fathom. Let alone 800,000.  There was only one way out of Treblinka.

 

Day 3, we visited (Briefly) Lublin, and then Majdanek. This time, there was no lengthy coach ride from the town of Lublin to Majdanek.       Majdanek, was in the suburbs. Imagine a Concentration camp in Hampstead or Tuffnel park. From the camp, you could see a main road leading into town. This of course means, that the main road could also see into the camp. I was unsure while walking round, not quite knowing how to feel. Stood in gas chambers. Walking between barbed wire. Standing in front of the ovens used to cremate the dead.

 

What I found the scariest in Madjanek, was the way it’s been preserved. It’s said, that within 24 hours, Madjanek could be operational again. Twenty Four Hours. One Day. We stepped outside the actual camp compound to the mausoleum filled with the ash remains of inmates. I didn’t like this. It was blowing around, there was smashed glass bottles and cigarette butts all around. However as I learnt, there are many different memorials and ways of marking the holocaust. This one was obviously not to my taste.

 

That afternoon, on the way to Krakow. We stopped in a tiny village, The name of which escapes me. We were presented with a building site. Literally a hard hat zone.. but we were taken inside none the less. We were inside a synagogue which was under restoration. A synagogue which in my mind, was the illustration synagogue of our past. On the walls were the (faded and mid restoration) Drawings and writings. The Gallery, high up, light and grand. And the ceiling, Vaulted. Due to the lack of lights, and the dust, My camera didn’t work, but the mental photos of a place of such important to my ancestors will stay with me forever.

 

Early that evening (After a hefty coach trip), we took a trip round “Jewish Krakow”. The Golders Green of Krakow. We looked from the outside at the synagogues, we walked through the streets… and we even managed to have a bit to eat in the “Jewish Style restaurant”.

That night, back in the hotel I wrote on facebook about my day. To which my distant cousin in America informed me that I had relatives who perished in Majdanek. The place I’d been stood earlier that day. The gas chamber which I had walked free from, had killed ancestors of mine, simply for being Jewish.

 

The next day was the hardest. Although not initially. We started by visiting the square where the Jews of Krakow were chosen for deportation. Another memorial… another strange one. We visited the gates of Schindler’s factory… and we looked at the faces which are now in the windows of the factory. The faces of those who survived. I overheard one of our survivors telling someone “You see them up there… third in… I know them…. I met them in a Deli in London”.

Next was something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain. A year on, and what I saw still plays havoc with my mind. We arrived at Aushwitz 1 and I was surprised at the sheer number of people waiting outside to get in. I was disgusted at the graffiti on the wall outside. I was unsure what to expect and what I would see or feel.

We entered Aushwitz through the famous “Gates of Hell”… Arbeit Macht Frei. Work Makes you free.

We were dragged at a pace which was far to fast to take it all in. Possibly for the best. Possibly for the worst. The way it has been preserved, to me, was too clinically. To close to a Museum, Too structured and too solid.

The conditions of Aushwitz, building wise, were not what I’d expected. Brick buildings. 3 floors high. Toilets, Stairs, Rooms. I was overcome with what to think, before being taken into one of the buildings. The building that contained the items left behind.

No photo can ever explain the feeling of looking through a thin pane of glass at the thousands of shoes, cups, bowls, suitcases, prosthetic limbs and the other items left by those whom perished at the Aushwitz camps.

I looked though one particular glass, and saw a pile of glasses. Glasses to me, a symbol of living. Without glasses (or at least my lenses) I cannot see. I am only half living. The glasses set me crying. Crying hysterically, yet without making a sound.

 

As we walked though the “museum that was Aushwitz” It was obvious to me the sheer amount of terror in the camp. Upon the “roads” of the camp, poles with hooks, used for hanging people. We walked down to the infamous death wall. Looking at the gunshots in the wall, but it was also heart wrenching to me, that we were stood between two of the worst blocks – 11 aka The Prison within the prison. and 10, the Medical Experimentation block.

Experiments took place that were too cruel to do to animals, yet were done to inmates without the blink of an eye. Just sitting here now thinking back makes me shudder.

We left Aushwitz and were allowed some free time outside to sit and eat lunch.  I could not eat. I could barely drink I could barely think.

 

We boarded the bus for the short ride to Birkanau.

If only I knew what I was about to see. They say less is more. With Birkanau, this was certainly the case.

 

The coach stopped. We got out, and  I looked. I stared. I rubbed my eyes and I stared some more. Left and right as far as the eye could see – Barbed Wire. I looked through the barbed wire. I could not see the back of the camp.

 

We started to walk though Birkanau. We walked and we walked and we walked… yet still were no where near the back. Birkanau felt to me a place so dark, It’s a surprise the grass grows.

 

The sheer size of Birkanau simply cannot be explained. 11,000 murdered every day. A Number I simply could not imagine. Quantities you cannot imagine, unless you stand there and experience it.

As we took a small wander though the vast amounts of rubble. I stopped and looked at the grass. 67 years after Liberation. The puddles still have a murky grey tint.

I wondered though the remains of a gas chamber. So planned, perfect, meticulous. Down to the art of a small grill at the doorway, so that those destined for the next world, wiped their feet on entry. Craziness to the finest degree.

(I fail to know what more to write here about Birkanau. Over whelmed.)

 

That night, we were taken to a Synagogue to hear the story of one of the survivors who was on the trip with us. I sat amazed, at the colours and the intricacies. The decor, the feel… There was something special. As we stood up to leave I started to sing (Perhaps prompted by one of the Educators!)… Am Yisrael Chai…. everyone joined in. The Children of Israel Live. As we left a Synagogue once belonging to those whom were murdered at the hands of the Nazi Regime.

 

We visited Buna-Monowitz the next morning (Aushwitz 3). It was simply a memorial. Another memorial, and to me… It meant little or nothing.

The next day was march of the Living. 11,000 people marched from Aushwitz to Birkanau. 11,000 the number of people killed every day in Birkanau. Yet it felt empty. Had you told me it was 1000, I’d have believed you. Even with 11,000 people in front of your very eyes. You can’t imagine how many that is!

We marched, led by our survivors to Birkanau. The streets were flanked with local people holding banners. We sung, we held hands. We did the death march which marked the end for so many.

Inside Biraknau we took part in a ceremony of remembrance. We said the Jewish memorial prayer… but the most moving of all we Sang the Hatikvah.

Translated It means “The Hope”. It’s the national anthem of Israel and a sign that Jewish life all over the world is still in existence. No matter how I feel with G-d. What I felt and still feel, is that although Hitler tried to exterminate a race. He failed to exterminate my race. The Jewish People still live. AM YISRAEL CHAI.

 

“As long as deep within the heart
A Jewish soul yearns
And toward the edges of the east
An eye to Zion looks

Our hope is not yet lost
The hope of two thousand years
To be a free people in the our Land
The Land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

 

 

The Jewish Dining Experience

So it’s Grandma’s Birthday… and she decides we’re going to that well known Restaurant in Edgware… I say McD’s, but she reminds me it shut years ago, and says “you know THAT kosher one down the bottom” No more to say, Anyone, who’s anyone, knows where I mean.

 

So off we go.  We’ve a table booked for 8pm, but we don’t turn up till twenty past. “just in case they aren’t ready for us.”

We walk in, and instantly everyone is looking at us. Up and down they stare, with their faces saying a mixture of:

  1. Do I know you?
  2. could you be a shidduch for my daughter/son/mother/brother/sister/dogs brother’s sisters son
  3. Am I sure I don’t know you
  4. I don’t know you, what are you doing in here meshugganeh.

Everyone looking, that is, Except the waiters and waitresses.

 

Eventually one of them throws my Grandmother a “YES” in a suitably abrupt fashion. Grandma explains we have a table for 5, and the waitress again says “YES”. After a few Yes’ we get dragged through the diners, all doing the faces above, to our table.

 

Turns out, of course, that Grandma knows not one table of people, BUT TWO.

 

The woman on the table next to us (who Grandma knows) Starts talking to us, and says “So, where are you living now?!” When Grandma tells her “Barnet” the woman answers with “Is it nice”.

 

What’s she expecting as a response?! “No, It’s horrible but I suffer in silence”. It’s not a holiday apartment it Costa del Otzenplotz, but Barnet, not even ten minutes down the road!

 

Anyway, we order drinks, three of us order Coke, so the waiter says “I’ll bring bottle it’s cheaper.” with a tone that makes you feel like he’s doing you a favour for it to be cheaper. Only in a Jewish Gaff.

 

Starters were more-or-less uneventful, with the odd funny comment coming from the table next to us, including a chat about the squirrels that got into Grandma’s shul. I might have mentioned The Ashkenazi (Grey) and the Sephadi (Red) Squirrels and how they made up a minyan….

 

THEN I decide to inspect the porcelain. Upon standing up, almost every head in the place shoots into position, and plays again through the faces mentioned above. THEY KNOW THEY DON’T KNOW ME!

 

Main course comes, I’ve ordered too much, and I’m draying through the beef burger wishing I’d gone shishlick when the other table we know comes over to say hello as they leave. The waiters and waitresses, take this as prime time:

Carefully they watch as we natter to the other people, and while our eyes are averted and our hands are talking, they try to remove anything surplus from the table, like a game of Jewish Jenga.

Waitress was caught however on the selection of 3 sauces, to which my brother declared “Oh, it’s fine, you might as well take them” despondently.

 

Thankfully mother manages to mouth to the waiter, who takes with subtly the fact that it’s Grandma’s birthday and he manages to bring her desert (sticky toffee pud, for those who care) out with a candle in it.

This prompts the table next to us to wish happy birthday, and even for one of them to ask “Well, who’s birthday is it?” while the candle was still burning in front of Grandma.

Eventually, Dad tells the bloke that he looks familiar. BAD MOVE. This initiates the mission of the Jews at dinner: Find a link. Links are suggested as follows:

  • What Shul do you belong too?
  • Who’s the Rabbi?
  • Who was the Rabbi Before that?
  • Before that?
  • Do you play tennis?
  • What do you do for a living? Taxi driver?
  • Do you know: Sid, Shlomo, Hymie / Cohen, Goldstein, Ubeplatz – they all drive taxi’s?

They should have settled on “did you have a bit removed on the 8th day”!

Eventually, they find a vague link through my brother’s girlfriend from Manchester, and the bloke next to us’s Son’s fiancée – I was happy for this palava to be over.

 

In the confusion however, intermingled with the Hymie’s and the Shlomo’s the table has been pretty much cleared, and it’s only by good judgement, that I held my glass at all times, and was still left with it.

 

All of a sudden, there is a dreadful “clacking” noise. Someone’s desert is ready and the chef is banging it on the table at the back for service. The waiter doesn’t hear, so my brother picks up the salt cellar, and starts clacking that. Then the pepper, then a glass, then all three. Eventually the waiter comes over and says to my brother “What” to which my brother (A trainee chef) replies “He wants you” (pointing to the chef) and the waiter replies “NO, What do YOU want?”

 

Eventually we get the bill, pay up, and head for the door. Prompting the scouting of heads again… This time it’s a splattering of:

  1. Not sure he’s a good shidduch
  2. Why haven’t they said hello, I’m sure I know them now they are leaving.
  3. Sid –  ask them where I know them from as they walk past.
  4. Why are they leaving now, they got here after me, was something wrong.
  5. Where’s my bloody dessert.

What a Kerfuffle… but I’m full up…. and you can’t say it wasn’t an experience.

I’m Jewish, and so are you.

For a long time I have struggled to come to terms with the way certain groups of Jews disassociate themselves with each-other, how they can be rude, abusive, and even refuse to talk to one another. Certain people will make judgements upon people because of the synagogue they belong to, what they observe, or even simply how we look.

A key word to my issues was written in Bold above. MEMBERS. Whether you are classed as United, Reform, or Don’t even belong to a Synagogue, YOU ARE ALL JEWISH. Yet some Jews won’t let you believe it.

History not so long ago outlined some of the less positive things about belonging to such a religion – but Hitler didn’t care what type of Jew you were; religious, non-religious half Jewish, a quarter Jewish – To the general outside world if you are Jewish, YOU ARE JEWISH, no matter what ‘internal denomination’ you are. To the average non-Jewish John Smith – Dan Cohen who goes to a Liberal Shul or a reform shul,  or a united shul or a federation shul, or any shul, or doesn’t go to shul, is as Jewish as The Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue.

SO WHY CAN’T WE ALL PLAY HAPPY RELIGIOUS FAMILIES?!

The Jewish people love playing happy family – Friday night dinner is a prime example, and any other festival time also… but why can’t we all get along?

The United synagogue will say that the Reform and Liberal aren’t considered as synagogues, and that they basically aren’t Jewish. The Reform and Liberal (from personal experience) will be more inviting to the more religious, and say the things they do are old and not relevant to modern life so they have updated the Religious ways to be relevant – NOTE: I’m talking about a member of the shul, not the shul organisation officially!!

But how does this work in modern life? To explain to someone what it is to be Jewish, and ‘how religious you are’ is complicated. Take an example of my place of work. We discussed Religion and my religion came up – I belong to a Reform Shul, go as often as I can, ( I aim to try for once a month) I try to keep Kosher as much as possible (I don’t really keep milk and meat, but I WILL NOT eat non kosher meat…. but might allow haribo – confusing I KNOW! – I’ll blog about that another time) and I try to go to shul for some of the festivals during the year – purim, sukkot etc.

A colleague of mine belongs to a United Shul will Eat non kosher in the office, from what he said, doesn’t go to shul as much as me…. The fine details DO NOT MATTER. What matters is how you can explain this to the non-Jewish world and in short – YOU CAN’T.

Between the two of us we don’t care ‘How Jewish’ one or the other of us is – at festivals we wish each other Chag Sameach, wish each other a happy new year, and share little yiddishe jokes between us.  We are just two, not everyone is so happy to share.

I could bore anyone silly enough to keep reading this far for another few hundred, maybe thousand, words, but at nearly 560, I feel this is more than enough.

The long and short of it is – to the outside world a Jew is a Jew. No matter how religious you are or you feel. Internally we should embrace this, stick together and learn to at least tolerate each other. If G-d Forbid 1000 times, the 20th century repeats itself – whether we tolerate, talk and get on with eachother or not. Together would stand the religious and the not, and together we would fall.