Friday, March 28, 2008

Ugly words

In the sixties, I decided to teach myself Yiddish.
I didn't have a granny to speak with in that language, the Nazis looked after that when they killed her together with my baby aunt in the ghetto in Poland.
So I purchased the only Yiddish paper I could put my hands on "Sovetish Heimland".
I took me hours, days and weeks to decipher the text written in Hebrew letters, but I learned the language.

What really bothered me then, was the fact, that in the paper all signs of Judaism were lacking. The copy I had was clearly written during Hanukkah, but the festival wasn't mentioned, not a word even.
Not less I was bothered by the fact, that Hebrew words used in Yiddish were written in a phonetic way, as if the writers wanted to cut any link between Hebrew and Yiddish.
The word Emmes עמעס f.i. comes from Hebrew אמת and means Truth or Pravda in Russian. That word was used to cover up the biggest lies.
As kid I understood, that when people start to "juggle" with words, democracy has a problem.

Words that really bother me nowadays are privatization, entrepreneur and peace.
When they are used it means usually that something is covered up.

In the early sixties our leaders had enough power not to use it. Nowadays being a politicians is a shortcut to make money and use the public resources for their own benefit. I remember the Dutch prime minister Dr. W. Drees whose house I passed every day while biking to school. We used to wish him a good day and he wished us a good day too. He wasn't covered by platoons of bodyguards and driven around in armoured cars. Neither was Queen Juliana. When you are really strong, you don't have to show off using public money.

Privatization means the public resources are taken and passed to people who can be of use at a later stage. Maybe the previous situation was not ideal, but at least many services were given to people who are now poor and deprived from them.

A new class of people the entrepreneurs was created, people who use their skills to earn money from things they don't own. They can be ambulance chasers, who put their hands on real estate that is not theirs. Banks and pension funds are taken and used to make their owners rich.

People are deprived from medical care, elderly people have to live without real pension and the richer get more richer and the poor don't survive.

I know people who worked their whole lives and made a few people extremely rich. Now when they are old and not healthy anymore, there is nobody who really cares.

In parks we see the "luckier" elderly, taken care of by completely strangers at poverty wages, so their kids can carry on running after the money and making their careers.

All kinds of people take the beautiful word peace and use it for their political benefit.

All this in the name of the free economy and the progress. What really should happen is returning to the basics and finding a way to live in harmony with ourselves and nature.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jewish humour

Through thousands of years the Jewish people developed a special kind of humour based on lots and lots of self-irony and subtle hints.

"Humour is the weapon of the weak ones," a wise person once said.
My friend David Minkoff keeps the banner of Jewish humour high in his website "The Jewish Jokes of"

Whenever my mood needs a boost, I go to his website and read the jokes he carefully gathered from all around the world.
When reading his jokes, they often echo in my mind in Yiddish, the language of humor and sadness.

So when you need a smile or if you serve God in your church, mosque or synagogue and need a punchline for your sermon, just go to his website.

I salute David for the ongoing service he provides, by making this hectic world a bit nicer to live in.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beauty near home

Too often we travel around half the world to find something beautiful, but sometimes it is really nearby under our noses.

Today I took the bus to Netania and visited the Iris Nature Reserve.

Near the sea on the dunes grows the Coastal or Dark Purple Iris - Iris atropurpurea - אירוס הארגמן.

The reserve is in South Netania on the the way to the Poleg neighbourhood.

Similar Irises can be found on Mount Gilbo'a and near Nazareth, but in each area they look a bit different.