I’m singing and dancing in the rain

It’s January 31st and, so far, this has been the wettest winter in Israel for a long time. In Glasgow, some people moaned about the (seemingly) perpetual grey skies and wet weather. In Israel, they welcome the rain for the relief it brings to local water supplies. Quite a contrast. Fortunately, I can enjoy the rain – I love walking, cycling and playing football in the rain, but only two of the three options are available to me now – while it’s here, knowing that warm (or very hot) weather is on its way. Then people will complain about the heat… Aren’t we funny?

When chapman billies leave the street

Burns Supper 2012

Now this is what you call the Serious Burns Unit...

If the *headline bemuses you, it’s likely you are not Scots educated or never been to a Burns Supper. Well, last week it was the anniversary of Rabbie Burns’ birth and, as is traditional for many Scots throughout the world, we celebrated the occasion with a Burns Supper. (One day late, but still, definitely a Burns Supper.) Continue reading

Sing if you’re glad…

My late father was a lover of chazanut (cantorial music) who enhanced his interest by singing in the Melbourne Jewish Male Voice Choir. (He was blessed with a fine singing voice, but it’s not something I have inherited.) Whenever I visited Melbourne, we always went for one Friday night service at least, to a particular shul that featured a choir and a real performance of Carlebach style chazanut, because it was a truly uplifting, spiritual experience. I came out of that place on a high, inspired by the beautiful melodies, harmonies, and pure emotion. I also came out of that place late, because the service took so long with all that singing!  However, we would rush back for dinner and didn’t get into too much trouble.

When I lived in Glasgow, the shul  I attended – Giffnock – featured a choir over the High Holy Days, always adding something to the occasion. And while I don’t remember a choir over any Shabbat, Rabbi Rubin regularly led a Carlebach type service on a Friday night.

This Shabbat in Ra’anana, there was a choir in the shul I now attend. They were superb. There were five in the group; young, orthodox Jews, performing to a packed shul, doing wonderful, tuneful things to the service, and raising my spirits greatly. Apart from the general good feeling, their singing brought back pleasant memories of those times with my dad.  It did take that bit longer, so I know it will never be a weekly occurrence, as people are often in a rush to get home for dinner. Maybe, the rarity adds to the special nature of the experience for me? Regardless, I will look forward to the next time, whenever it happens.

Have a great week, one and all.


What’s a library?

Yesterday was a day of protest by Wikipedia and other internet sites against the proposed USA law known as SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act. In essence, the law would stop (or try to stop) access to illegal sites. Of course, the question as to what is, or would be, an illegal site, is one of the potential dangers – though there are many others. Many see the law as a direct threat to civil liberties, and an attempt to control the internet. There is a need to prevent online privacy, but this law appears to be the proverbial hammer to crack a nut. But, I am grateful for Treppenwitz‘s post on the topic pointing out a potentially unforeseen benefit of the day of protest. Maybe it would be beneficial, in more ways than one, if there were more protests…

Is it time for SPINS?

It’s not just the Israelis who don’t want to see Ayatollah Atomica. Few of Iran’s neighbors are too enthusiastic about the idea. Neither is Europe which doesn’t particularly like the idea that the next time Salman Rushdie publishes a book that infuriates some holy beardo browsing the Guardian’s book reviews in between doses of Hashish, the furious Islamist book critics will be able to threaten a radioactive review.

For a refreshingly different (and well-written) look at the issue of Iranian nuclear scientists, I recommend the Sultan Knish blog’s post on the topic – The Society for the Protection of Iranian Nuclear Scientists (SPINS) which you can see here. I’m not endorsing the views expressed there, but certainly believe they deserve a wider audience.