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Archive for September 2009

yom kippur

The Jewish people are approaching the conclusion of  the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, known as The Days of Awe a time for reflection and introspection.   For me that’s a constant.   My conscience is very active; I know I say the wrong thing, make bad choices – many regrets.  I search my heart and soul, I want to be a better person and seek answers that are elusive.   We are made in G-d’s image; we are given freewill, the choice to be good or bad.    G-d is all loving and all merciful.   As I heard today, He doesn’t wish to destroy wicked people, He wishes to destroy their wickedness that they have a chance to become good.   

Yom Kippur is the time to ask G-d’s forgiveness for the sins we committed against him; we also try to reconcile differences with each other;  if I have upset or offended anyone, I apologise and ask for your forgiveness.  

I wish those of my faith an easy and meaningful fast and may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

dry bones


I reproduce here Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly two days ago.   I want to spread his words and pray they reach out and make their mark.    The world has to understand that Israel is not alone in its potential destruction, the whole world is in danger and I do not stand alone in being afraid, very afraid.  


Mr. President
Ladies and Gentlemen

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events. Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth.

Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments.

Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie? And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie?

One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife’s grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!

Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries.

In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times. Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated.

The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death. The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day.

Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially. It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come.

We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after a horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind.

That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction, and the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood?

Will the international community thwart the world’s most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging.

Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks.

We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis.

We didn’t get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare.

You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded?

Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country’s civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II.

During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances.

Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas. We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave.

Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy’s civilian population from harm’s way. Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel.

A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth! What a perversion of justice!

Delegates of the United Nations,
Will you accept this farce? Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity.

And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here’s why. When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense.

What legitimacy? What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country – of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow.

Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
All of Israel wants peace. Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein.

And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace.

In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it. We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state.

Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more.” These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city – in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem. We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland.

As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don’t want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

We want peace

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order.

The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the “confirmed unteachability of mankind,” the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.

Churchill bemoaned what he called the “want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill’s assessment of the “unteachability of mankind” is for once proven wrong.



I am multi-tasking:

  1. running in and out of the kitchen checking the oven and the simmering and bubbling pots and pans.   I almost had one minor little incident – I turned on the oven to heat it up for a yummy chocolate cake and forgot I’d left a meringue in there to cool down last night  
  2. trying to watch Masterchef  The Professionals  and having to pause it because
  3. the telephone – I have told my loved ones that if my landline is busy not to ring the mobile since the only person on the landline can be  yours truly and finally
  4. trying to post something meaningful for the Jewish New Year

Yes it’s that time of year again which accounts for my absence not just from my home here, but from yours too.   One update since my honey cake disaster is that the next six came out perfectly and the apple cakes, the teabreads, the mandelbroit, the chocolate cake and the meringues.   I have also fed the freezer with kugels, red cabbage, sweet and sour chicken, gefillte fish, chicken soup and I discovered a lovely new soup, beetroot and carrot which is seriously yummy and sweet for the New Year.   Yes I’ve been rather busy and the cookathon isn’t over yet – you’ll never find a haimisha cook like this balabusta on Masterchef – tonight’s quarter finalists had to prepare a three course meal for the critics – I wonder what they would make of chopped liver and knaidlach and kreplach soup and salt beef and latkes and new green and lockshen pudding LOL.   Oh what a shame you can’t scratch and sniff this blog; your mouths would be watering!

I know, I know, I’m focused on the stomach, but I am Jewish.   Seriously though, I am pushing out the walls for the ‘family who stay’ and do have a lot of guests at my dining table –  for every meal.  Every festival has different foods associated with them and the New Year is no exception.   The tradition is honey, honey cakes, apple and honey and tzimmes, sweet tastes for a sweet year.   

The Jewish New Year is essentially a time for reflection;  I think more people are taking time to reflect this year than they have before.  We’re all living and breathing and talking recession and the material loss is tangible.   We can’t help it, human nature makes us think if we had this or that maybe our lives would be happier, but material possessions do not make the person or guarantee happiness.   It is not what one has, it’s what one does that counts, the love inspired in others,  good deeds and a good name, those things enrich our lives.   The spiritual part of us, that cannot be taken away.  

My wish this New Year is that the world will be a safe place, that peace will prevail, that Hashem will judge with love and mercy and answer our prayers as He sees fit and He will bless you and yours (and me and mine) with sweetness, love, and simcha. 

Happy New Year 

This is not my video;  those who know me know I am totally incapable.  I should like to thank Eva.  This is her hard work  and I hope she does not mind that I have borrowed it.   Below are the words in Hebrew and their English translation.

Al Kol Eleh 

Al ha-dvash ve’al ha-okets
Al ha-mar vehamatok
Al bitenu ha-tinoket
Shmor eli ha-tov.

Al ha-esh ha-mevo’eret
Al ha-mayim ha-zakim
Al ha-ish hashav ha-bayta
Min ha-merchakim

Al kol elehh, al kol eleh
Shmor na li eli ha-tov
Al hadvash ve’al ha’okets
Al ha-mar vehamatok

Al na ta’akor natu’a
Al tishkach et hatikva
Hashiveni venashuva
El ha’aretz ha-tova

Shmor eli al ze ha-bayit
al ha-gan al ha-choma
Miyagon mipachad peta

Shmor al ha-me’at sheyesh li
Al ha-or ve’al ha-taf
Al ha-pri shelo hivshil od

Al kol eleh ….

For All These Things 

Over the honey and the sting
Over the bitter and the sweet
Over our daughter, our baby
My God, watch over what is good

Over the flame that is burning
Over the water running pure
Over the man returning home
from far away

Over all these, Over all these
God please watch over them for me
Over the honey and the sting
Over the bitter and the sweet

Do not uproot what is planted
Do not forget the hope
Return me, and I will return
to the good land.

Watch over this house for me, my God,
the garden, and the wall
protect them from pain, from sudden fear
And from war.

Watch over for me the little I have
The light, the baby
over the fruit that has not ripened
and over what has already been reaped.




Same aromatic smells, bustling sounds
Foreign taste, our special place
Nothing much changed
Since the last time

We shared a war zone then
Now we meet, the uneasy peace
An awkward kiss
Not like the last time

Blackout curtains, darkness, silence
Save the sirens wail, bombs overhead
Your gun and bullets under the bed
Afraid it was the last time

Precious moments seeking comfort
Not straying from the other’s arms
As one, afraid to sleep alone
Maybe for the last time

Then it happened, your call to serve
And mine, get out, go home  
On my own two thousand miles
That was the last time

I wait for news, no email then
Not knowing if you survived
Years pass, by chance I find you
Here, like the last time

But, I’m not that same young girl
And you, my soldier of principle
Our lives and ideals now worlds apart
Far from the last time

We’ve changed, no going back
We’re not the same
We reminisce, a final kiss
For the last time

© 2006 ann raven

first day of school moriahfirst day of school boaz

… which means the traffic to work will be horrendous – getting to work in 10-15 minutes the past six weeks has been a joy – now it’ll be back to the 30-45 minutes stop start stop start… yawn yawn yawn 

Jonathan just sent me the pics and, of course, proud booba had to share.   The exciting news is that they’re all coming to London in a few weeks for the whole of Sukkot.   Originally I was going out there with my mother after the chagim (the jewish holidays) but when they suggested coming here I was over the moon.    I shall be there again in January anyway for the birth of number three.   Sorry, I blog so infrequently that I don’t think I got round to mentioning that exciting piece of news.   In February there’ll be another special trip, like the one I took earlier this year, and PG I’ll do it again.   We’ll likely visit different sites, but no doubt we’ll meet with the same angels and certainly the same victims of terror and their families to see how they’re getting on.

I feel a bit strange doing this rambling post, as it’s been so long.   I’m stuck at home carless, since it’s gone in for a service and altho’ they offered me a courtesy car I couldn’t be bothered and thought I’d make the most of a day at home to make my honey cakes and kugels.   As usual my home will be turned into Hotel Raven over all the festivals, but I wouldn’t have it any other way; I love it when they all come to stay.

Book Club is still going strong.  I wasn’t enthralled with George Eliot’s pontificating in Daniel Deronda.   If I had managed to get that far I’m sure the Jewish element of the book would have fascinated me as it was quite something for a sympathetic viewpoint to have been written in Victorian times – however after 300 pages and nothing happening, I confess to giving up.   I don’t need the book for the knowledge it imparted, since that is marked in the archives of history and I know it well.   Last night’s offering was Anita & Me by Meera Syal.  This received mixed reviews mostly by those who criticised the writing style, which I had to agree was over-anecdotal and the description in parts was over-laboured.  However I could forgive that because the book was semi-autobiographical and offered a good insight into the life of a young, bright, mouthy Asian girl brought up by well-educated and aspiring parents, the only coloured family in a small 60’s Midland’s mining village.  Many regard the book as filled with humour, but it’s a bittersweet story and I think the humour used is a defence mechanism against a backdrop of desperately wanting to grow up and be like, and be liked by, her peers (“What do yow wanna be when you grow up chuck?”   “Blonde!”) and her introduction to racism, both when she learnt about her parent’s struggles with partition and the dawning of racism in her village during the Enoch Powell years of “Paki-bashing”.   The ending sadly was a big disappointment.  It was like a fairytale, which I will not give away, miles away from the substance and depth of the book, and there is a depth to it.   I know it’s a bugbear of mine, but why oh why, when I’ve enjoyed a book so much, do they always end so poorly?    Next month’s read should be a hoot – Bill Bryson’s Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, so watch this space!    I won’t go into everything I’ve read recently – enough’s enough!

Next week I start a new writing course and I am absolutely terrified!   Although I love poetry, and I do need all the help I can get, the first part of the lesson is fiction – I used to think I had a book in me – in fact I think everyone probably does – but I lack discipline and motivation and am easily tempted away when someone says do you wanna do lunch or go shopping and my penchant for certain cop shows is a major distraction.      A hobby is a hobby; my blog is as brave and as far as I’m prepared to go at sharing.

Did anyone see the latest adaptation of Wuthering Heights over the weekend?   Sorry, did any Brits?    It makes me want to revisit the novel, because I don’t remember hating Heathcliff as much as I did this time and how could Cathy not want the charming and handsome Edgar… and and and what about that scene in the coffin… ach!   I didn’t know that the ‘wuthering’ of the title is a Yorkshire word for turbulent weather.   This version was not true to the story but for all that it was a pleasant diversion for a bank holiday weekend.  

wuthering heights

Right back to the Kenwood –   I’ve just taken one cake out the oven and it’s burnt – I was on the phone and I could smell it, but still waited for the oven to beep – duh! 


the loves of my life

at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet ~~~ plato

thank you…

... to everyone whose pictures and videos I have borrowed; if anyone would like theirs to be removed, please tell me and I shall be happy to do so

all words here are mine ~ I’ll tell you when they’re not!

from long ago

in case I forget what day of the week it is

September 2009