I appreciate many are going through hard times. Today it is indeed a blessing to have a roof over your head, food in your stomach and clothes on your back. For Axe blessings such as those would be nothing short of a miracle. Instead this is what she has and has not…
She has blisters on her feet, but no shoes.
She and her two children have to leave their accommodation any day now but they can’t even shelter in her car as they have done before – it has been repossessed.
They are hungry – they can’t afford to eat properly and some days hardly at all.
Her treasured possessions are stored in someone’s garage hundreds of miles away in Capetown and they will be disposed of shortly if Axe cannot get there to collect them.
To add insult to injury being white and poor in South Africa today makes it virtually impossible for her to get a job and it’s not for the lack of trying. Maybe someone from Port Elizabeth is reading this and can be of even more practical help.
I know many who pass by here, and on facebook, express their love and concern, but sadly that is simply not enough to sustain her, Anushka and Ivan. If everyone who genuinely cared could send a little, say £10, £5, $20, $10 or, if you’re feeling generous and it’s possible to give up that bottle of wine, that take out pizza, an evening at the pub or a movie and you find you can do more, thank you. Every little really does help.
I appreciate this is hard to do. It is even harder for Axe to live the way she does and harder still for her to let me do this for her. I’m not sure I could ever be as strong as she is under her circumstances. She is a remarkable lady, extremely talented and a wonderful mother.
If you can, please contact Axe care of her aunt who has kindly agreed for her address to be on my blog .
c/o Margaret Vermaak
97 Avondale Road
Kabega Park 6025
On the 25th June 2006, Gilad Shalit (aged just 19) was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in a cross border raid from the Gaza Strip. He has been held hostage by Hamas ever since with almost no contact to the outside world. He is also denied visits from the International Red Cross to ensure his good health.
Human Rights Watch in the UK said they have never heard of him. Amnesty International is not highlighting Gilad’s birthday and the International Committee of the Red Cross is doing nothing to publicise his case.
He must not be forgotten – not on his birthday – not any day.
This beautiful songs starts at around 1 minute – it has English subtitles
I went on an unplanned stroll down memory lane. Yesterday I cleared out my paperwork! Big deal, you’ll think; well it is for me. I don’t open my post – only stuff that looks interesting – everything else waits in a quiet corner. So now I feel virtuous ‘cos four months of filing has been done, in real files as well as the wpb. Then I thought why not collate the notes and writings from my class – that shouldn’t take too long except I spent ages reading and admiring the rest of the group’s work – I was privileged to be with some serious talent. I also found reams of old poetry that brought back mixed memories – they need tidying and/or destroying.
As part of my crusade on paper, this morning I dug out from a deep old storage box, a pile of older battered crinkled notebooks. Between pages and pages of poetry and prose scribblings was so much else: Menus and recipes and related shopping lists. Plans for my children’s engagements and weddings, costs, guestlists, possible venues, flowers, music, more menus, music, etc. Recommended book lists and reviews. Doodles. Quotes from books and my own one-liners. Words I didn’t know their meanings, meaning to look them up. Numbers, lots of them – telephone numbers without names and what could the others be? Pictures of my babies… and Goren! Flight details, times, airports, costs, lists of hotels, itineraries. Home shopping lists and to-do lists and moving costs; not for this one but from spring 2004. (Yes this one is still gonna happen – the house will go on the market this week. Wish me luck)!
The next part of my journey shocked me (slightly). Those who have been around the block with me here will remember At Home With The Goren’s. That blog is long gone and the stories I first drafted in word – all deleted. In my hands I held chapters written, I think, in my lunchbreak, on a train or a plane or a cafe. What was I thinking then? Was I pleasing a particular audience? What was it with those two? I cringed as I read. Puerile and pathetic; the characters, the content and the quality of writing. I’m not sorry the blog is lost to posterity. However, thanks to dear Val she had the bright idea to invite anyone to contribute to her new blog After Major Case and in a moment of sentimentality I resurrected them. What was I thinking? Again! The couple have since matured (and the writer); they have a son Robert, Bobby is out of work and anything can happen.
As for all the notebooks – I kept the photos, pulled out the recipes, one-liners and a few poems – the rest, including mrsbg, are now languishing atop my recycling box awaiting an uncertain, but i’m sure a more useful future.
So wassup? My last post said I was going to Israel with mother and we did – it was a fabulous trip. Jamie joined us for a long weekend; he bunked at Jon and Bridgitte’s whilst ma and I stayed in an apartment in Herzliya two minutes from the Marina. There was a massive pool and the little ones had a lot of fun. It worked out brilliantly and friends were coincidentally staying in the same place and mother and I also met up with other friends who live there. Not sure when my next trip will be, the summer months are way too hot for this English rose, but hot off the press, they’re all coming to stay at the end of September for about ten days. Can’t wait to see my little ones again – I miss them so much – thank goodness for webcams and skype!
Rachel and I are still planning our trip to the big apple in October – flights are booked – wooo hooo. I am so excited. I’ve never been and it really is the only place on my wish list at the moment. I’ll never say no to other places, but right now I am fixated on going there. I’ve been researching accommodation – the choice is endless and I so want to get it right, but the prices are unbelievable. Coincidentally my boss is going in a few weeks and we were checking out the same hotels – they are half the price in August compared to the dates we’re going. I also checked to see if it was a public holiday or something, but no, and it’s not Chelsea’s wedding! Still searching – all recommendations welcome.
What else? Oh yes, Bon Jovi at the O2… cool. No, HOT!!!! He was fantastic, but boy I could hardly move the next day. It hurts to confess, this old hen is past being a rock chick. More on music… got blown away seeing (sadly only on tv) the awesome and talented Carole King and James Taylor at the Troubador’s 50th anniversary, although Jamie bought me the DVD & CD. They’ve been doing a sell-out tour in the States – it would be awesome if they brought it to London. Some music is timeless – Tapestry – 1971 – still listening.
I also got blown away by a television two-part drama written by Kay Mellor, based on her mother’s revelation that she’d had an affair when Kay was a baby. It’s called A Passionate Woman and received mixed reviews – I liked it. It also introduced us to a beautiful and talented young actor called Theo James. I shall be keeping an eye out for him and wish him a glittering career.
Trying to remember what books I’ve read since I last posted; I recall raving about Suite Francaise – since then I had the opportunity to hear her biographer, together with the Cambridge professor who translates Irene Nemirovsky’s writing, and Irene’s daughter (who is now 80). After the talk hoards of people queued for book signing; my friends and I had a coffee while we waited and then joined the end of the line – in my limited french we exchanged a few words and as I was the last one they signed the books to me personally, which was rather nice.
What have I been reading? I loved the first two of the Stieg Larssson Millenium books – the third sits teasingly on my bookshelf, but it is 700 pages long and I haven’t found time to dive in. They are such thumping good yarns; I’ve bought them for friends who also can’t put them down.
Am in the middle of Andrea Levy’s Small Island which is brilliantly well written – more of that when I finish it.
A quick read by the pool was Alexander McCall Smith’s latest in his No.1 Lady Detective Agency series of books set in Botswana – they never disappoint, but don’t expect too much – just easy reading filled with wisdom and insight.
What else? A return to Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I loved it first time round – loved it even more the second. The first outing I was totally raving about his surreal adventures at sea and the fact it was so original; the second time I found myself more absorbed by Pi’s fascination and search for religion. The ending is clever, very clever. There are some beautiful lines and descriptions. If you’ve not had the chance, this is one I heartily recommend.
Couldn’t put down Marcus Zusak’s Book Thief. Set in Munich during the war the story of a German family harbouring a young Jewish man – the story is narrated by Death yet it is not in the least morbid. It is written in an unusual format where the contents of each chapter are listed at the beginning so you know what to expect. Another one I recommend.
The Ghost by Robert Harris – a political genre loosely (or not so) based on Blair – it had some great reviews and I hear the film is good, but not seen it yet. I should ‘cos I believe it stars the cute Pierce Brosnan and cuter Ewan McGregor. The book is 400 pages long; I didn’t find much to excite me until p.300. The timing was good – I was on a flight. The last 100 pages were pageturners; at the very last line it dawned on me that we never knew the name of the ‘ghost’ – of course we were never meant to. Friends who enjoyed it more than I didn’t notice my observation – they all went “Oh yes!” – still worth giving it an airing.
I’ve tried to read other books by Marina Lewycka, but gave up not even halfway. I completed the task with A Short Story of Tractors in Ukranian. Not sure what to make of the book – think it may be a little like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. It has been labelled comedy, when in fact it isn’t at all and nor was that the author’s intention. There are a few smart one-liners and it was poignant in parts. It’s about two distant sisters (in more ways than one) whose recently widowed, 80+ year old father is about to marry a buxom blonde Ukrainian in her 30’s. The father is writing a book about, yes, tractors in the Ukraine; he is an intellectual man, when he’s not being stupid. Some skipped those sections, but I actually found them enlightening as you saw the progress (and not) of communism in Eastern Europe. You can imagine the rest about him and his trophy – or read the book.
Finally Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis I & II. She is a graphic novelist living in France and her cartoon book is autobiographical. The title is the old name for Tehran. It was different. I found the pages hard on my eyes. It has been made into a film and I caught it this week on the television. Having recently read the book, it was exactly the same but animated so I switched off. I think I was less enthusiastic than my friends – I did not like the format (think Maus) but she is a graphic novelist so obviously this would be the way she would tell her story. Her story encompasses her life from childhood in Tehran, to being a student in Austria, back to Tehran and more studies and marriage, then divorce all with the backdrop of the different regimes and rules and regulations and war. It left me cold – I forced myself to read it – the story is true and heartbreaking and I wanted so much to sympathise and empathise; I’m sure I would have done if it was conventionally told .
Sorry I’ve been gone so long – I may be back (don’t hold your breath) 🙂
The sun is shining, spring has arrived and I’m sorry; I know – it’s been a long time! Now Pesach is over my houseguests have left. It seemed uber-hard work this year (I must be feeling my age) still, for all that, the effort is really rewarding and I won’t deny it, I love a full house. The family stayed with me for ten days and I even had Jon stay a couple a days the week before as he was in London on business. Now my home is back the way it was – very clean and very quiet – it can never be too clean, but it can be too quiet!
So what’s been going on? Lots, but for this post I’m focusing on my last trip to Israel which seems so long ago – and I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks taking my ol’ ma to see her great-grandchildren – I’ve booked the flights, just need to sort accommodation! We’ll probably rent an apartment with a pool in Herzliya so Bridgitte can bring the children over after school, which finishes at 1.30, and Jon can see us after work as his office is there. We’ll work something out.
Back to the trip – last year we were a small group of nine souls; this time there were nineteen of us! It was fast-paced and hectic trying to fit so much into four days. Much was familiar to us old regulars although some in this year’s group had never been to Israel before or had only done the sun sea and sand thing and some of the itinerary was new ground even for us Israel frequent flyers. I won’t repeat it all as much is déjà-vu from last year, particularly the Old City, Rachel’s Tomb, Hebron and the Caves of Machpelah the burial place of our Patriarchs. However visiting Sderot, an Israeli town literally across the road from Gaza – a stone’s, no, a rocket’s throw – was a real eye-and mind-opener. It hit home the enormity of their situation when we saw the racks of ketusha, qassam and grad rockets fired relentlessly on the town’s residents, when we saw the war room, when we saw a playground where shelters are disguised as animals so the children can come out of their homes and when we saw streets where no house escaped damage.
and this is the response of the Mayor of Sderot – not what you may have expected; the word peace comes from the lips of Israel, not hate!
From Sderot we went to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and the Etzel Museum in Jaffe – we met incredible, brave, heroic people who were there when independence was declared; who fought for our right to exist and when you see the first video above, nothing has changed in our fight for survival.
I hadn’t managed to get to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion before, which was in fact not so far from where Jon lived in the Gush. The story of this now thriving kibbutz is one of life and death and life again and they have set up a museum to relate its history and its legacy – it was poignant and moving especially when praying at the bunker. At Kfar Etzion, one of four kibbutzim in the area, the captured Jews were gathered together by soldiers of the Arab Legion and told they were going to be photographed, instead the soldiers opened fire and murdered scores, according to eyewitness accounts from Jewish survivors. The wounded from the battle had taken refuge in a cellar bunker. After the village surrendered, the Arabs blew up the bunker with grenades killing everyone in it. Only then were any survivors taken to captivity in Jordan.
I gathered acorns from around it and brought them home to remember – if the tree can survive, so can we.
I know I often fly off to Israel for my baby fix, but for me these trips are also as important, illuminating and valuable – I try to spread the word to my friends to go, to listen, to learn, particularly when we visit the victims of terror and hear their terrible stories or work the soup kitchen or pack challot and provisions with the beautiful Liore for over 400 destitute families who have nothing – poverty in Israel is a major issue. My synagogue has been raising funds and been supporting these poor people since the start of the intifada and it is humbling also to meet the wonderful volunteers in Israel who give so much of themselves. As a community we still raise much needed funds and visit them today as we did seven years ago and they know and appreciate that Chigwell still cares and they know they are not alone. After initial pain and grief, the scars and trauma last for ever; so must our endeavours.
This year I met two lovely families, one from Russia, the other from Latvia, whose lives were destroyed through terrorist attack and whose stories of healing I may tell another time, but their progress and rehabilitation could never have happened without the hard graft and sheer dedication of one truly remarkable lady, Delysia Jayson, a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valour…
“a woman of valour… she invests herself with strength… she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out to the needy… she is robed in strength and dignity and she smiles at the future… give her credit for the fruit of her labour and let her achievements praise her at the gates.” (Proverbs 31: 10-31)
Delysia sadly died shortly after our visit, on her 67th birthday. Maybe it sounds odd to say I was lucky, but I was lucky to have had the opportunity to spend precious time with her again, to have walked beside this angel on earth, to have had the honour and privilege to have known her at all. On our first day in Jerusalem she drove us to visit families in their homes and the following evening I sat with her at a dinner for more victims, their families and volunteers – always a brilliant evening of shared stories of despair and hope – for example beautiful young men cruelly injured by mines and suicide bombs whose survival hung in the balance and now they were loved and embarking on marriage, something they had never dared to hope for, something that was just a dream.
Delysia was the founder of Keren Klita – her voluntary work started in the early 70’s with a group called the “35’s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry”. Reading her tribute brought back memories – I recall playing a small part in those days, just going on rallies and occasionally volunteering in charity shops to raise funds to help get those poor souls out of Russia and to raise public awareness of their plight. I remember wearing a pendant that bore the words “Let My People Go” and years later twinning my sons’ Bar Mitzvahs with 13 year old boys in Russia who could not get out, who could not celebrate openly as we could in the land of freedom, who could not live freely as Jews, whose families were imprisoned on false charges because they wanted to leave the Soviet Union. It was a very big thing then and Delysia courageously made perilous trips to Russia to see for herself and to do what she could.
When we saw Delysia again in February we knew something was wrong – she was a shadow of her former self, yet she was still working tirelessly for her cause. I wonder if she realised she had mere weeks to live; she knew she was sick, she told us she had cancer but when questioned she dismissed it as a nuisance, like one would flick a hand at a pesky fly. Please please read this tribute to her – it chronicles her life and her strength of character and determination and was written by someone who followed in her footsteps to help others, by someone who will miss her like everyone all over the world who got to know and respect and admire and love her. Her death leaves a void, an enormous loss to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her community and the many many thousands of people she saved. Future trips will not be the same without her.
I’m back on my travels and thankfully there’s no snow this weekend! Amazingly it’s been eight whole months since I was last in Israel, a long long time for me, although the children did come here in October. Of course I’m very very very excited. I won’t actually see my family until Thursday as I am heading straight to Jerusalem to do my thing there. I am so looking forward to meeting again the most awesome people I had the privilege and honour to meet last year; those who we, from a distance, support financially and spiritually who have gone through so much hardship and suffering – and of course meeting again with the wonderful people in Israel who give so much of themselves.
Hopefully I’ll find a little time to catch up with some friends whilst I’m there, but the actual days of the trip are jam-packed and hectic. One of the places we shall visit again is the excavated Southern Wall of the Temple. As moving as the Kotel (the Western Wall) can be the Southern excavations is a trip that anyone who is going to Israel should not miss. It never ceases to fascinate me – and I have been there a few times – to see how the people lived then – the road, the shops, the mikveh – and for me the most amazing experience is to walk the exact same steps the Priests and the people had walked to enter the Temple all those thousands of years ago.
Then I’m on to Ra’anana to meet my new grandson, Nadav Philip. The name Nadav means generous and noble and the name Philip has been passed down through Bridgitte’s father’s family for generations. I’m hoping to meet some friends there as well and even make new friends – more of that later!
Also in the meantime, there’s more news about the move, but that will also have to wait till I get back.
See you all in a couple of weeks.
lotsa luv ann x0x0x0x
pics as promised — warning — some may find these offensive 😉
sorry about the poor quality, these are off jon’s phone and i’m too excited to wait for the better quality stuff — i’ll bore you with those another time 🙂