Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Shabbat


In accordance with the Jewish calendar, the Shabbat begins on Friday evening at sunset and ends on Saturday night with the appearance of three stars. As Jews (and even non-Jews) we’re lucky to have the Shabbat in our lives, a day of holiday every week, not only once a year, but the Shabbat will only happen if you make it happen.
The Holy One, blessed be G-d, said: “The Shabbat is a sample of the world-to-come, for that world will be one lone Shabbat.”
But in this modern age it is so easy to forget the joy of the Shabbat. Come Friday and Saturday, many of us will be glued to our small screens, updating our Facebook status or blogging away or chatting away, and before we know it, Shabbat will have passed us by and we will know that something is missing even though we don’t know what it is. Friday and Saturday will happen automatically, but it is up to the individual to make Shabbos happen. So come Friday get your priorities ready and remember that the Shabbat is a special time in all our lives.



My books This is Not the End and Pussy-Foot are available on Amazon

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Death

Excerpt from my book Can Wu: Biometric Resident

Death

I saw the soldiers taking entire families away, leading them towards their death.
I saw a mother being shot and her baby being kicked to death by a German soldier.
When he was finished kicking, he told his dog to lick his boots.
I saw daylight turn to darkness, and the darkness came to stay for a long time.
Families in the ghetto died slowly of starvation.
Children lost their parents.
Fathers lost their families.
Mothers lost everything.
At night, when I close my eyes, I still hear the screams, I still see death, I still see hell.


Name:
Poland, SS soldiers subjecting an elderly Jewish man to humiliation by cutting off his beard in the street. 
Belongs to collection:
Yad Vashem Photo Archive 
Places:
POLAND
Credit:
Yad Vashem 




My book Can Wu: Biometric Resident is available on Amazon

Babel

Excerpt from my book Can Wu: Biometric Resident

Babel

Imagine if Isaac Babel had stayed in Paris, or somewhere else in Europe, instead of returning to Moscow? How many more books and stories wouldn’t he leave behind for us to read?
In 1932, the great Jewish Russian short story writer was granted permission to go to Paris where his estranged wife Yeugenia was waiting for him. Finally, after numerous requests (and refusals), the shadows –oppressors- that ruled his country let him go, and I’m sure it all must have seemed like a dream come true for Isaac, but once he found himself on foreign soil, Babel felt strange even though he was free. He also felt fear of no longer being able to make a living solely through writing while living in a foreign country. Maybe he could only write if he were in Russia, but I’m sure had he stayed in Europe for good, inspiration would soon return and he would have been able to keep on writing. But in the end Babel followed his faith and returned to Russia where the shadows got him, tortured him and killed him. And afterwards, crime of all crimes, not being happy by only killing the writer, they also tried to make the writer disappear by burning his works.
Had I stayed behind, in Beijing, and remained a serious critic of my government, I too would have disappeared along with my writing. Maybe this is why I have a deep affection towards Babel, because I know that I too could have ended like him. Then again, had he stayed behind in Europe, he could have been free to write and leave behind a larger legacy.
Imagine that: a world with more (Isaac) Babel to be read. The thought of it is so happy that it makes you sad.




My book Can Wu: Biometric Resident is available on Amazon

Judaism

(me leaving the shul)

Saturday morning. I leave home with the kids and we head to the shul. Me and my oldest child are laughing and talking in Hebrew, our yarmulkes hidden in one of my coat pockets. We only put them on once we’re near the shul. Or only when we’re inside the shul. Our spoken Hebrew is minimal but we use it as often as we can so that we can learn a bit more and also so we won’t forget what we already know. Every Saturday morning we go through this ritual, and if we happen to go on holidays, the first thing we do is to find out where is the nearest shul and call them in advance so that we can make it to the service.
I wonder what my younger self; the smoking, alcohol drinker, heavy metal fan, would think of me now. He probably would look at me and say, “Judaism, Torah, Thelonious Monk, Bach, Schubert, Shabbos, Kosher, no smoking, no drinking, no pork; how boring.”
The hair is thinner now, the belly a bit rounder, the beard longer, but I’m still the same person I used to be, although a bit wiser; I still read loads, still daydream everywhere, even at work, and I still write my stories. The only difference now is Judaism, the faith of my ancestors, but it’s not as if Judaism is something that you can see, is it?
Maybe it is because some of my friends and colleagues have noticed the changes in me. I no longer care about gossip at work and I don’t join in the conversations (at work) that often. In my spare time I read The Tanakh or something by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Danya Ruttenberg (I must have read Surprised by G-d three times now), Chaim Potok, S. Y. Agnon, or some other Jewish author. Judaism walks beside me everywhere I go. As for going out on Shabbos, that’s a definitive no-no. But I didn’t lose anything by embracing Judaism into my life. For the contrary; I gained a lot. So much that I feel like crying.

Last week I went to a shul that I’ve never been to, an orthodox shul, and even there I was myself, the forty-something Jew that I am now, and all the Jews in there knew what I was just as I knew what they were, and that was enough for us to become friends. At the end of the service I stayed for Kiddush with my son. A lot of people spoke with me while my son played with other kids. They told me to come and visit again and I said, “Sure.”
I thanked the rabbi for the hospitality and for the service, and he told me to return again in the near future. Again, I thanked him and I left the shul feeling so warm inside.
This is my life now.
This is who I am.
I respect other people’s choices and I hope they respect mine too.
Shalom.


My books This is Not the End and I, Can: fragments of a life are available on Amazon

Friday, 10 October 2014

The new plague (?)


In Madrid, Spain questions are being raised about safety measures where a nurse with Ebola is in a serious but stable condition. People are panicking and refusing to do their jobs at the hospital where the same nurse is being held.
In America, cleaners at airports are requesting better equipment to deal with rubbish left behind by passengers arriving from countries where one could catch Ebola (but the virus is travelling fast and soon we could catch it anywhere).
In the UK the Department of Health has said it will provide further details about Ebola screenings at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar terminals next week. This announcement has come ahead of a national exercise which will take place today to test Britain’s readiness for an Ebola outbreak. Soon, every country around the world may follow forth.
Of course there’s a chance that this Ebola virus might come to an end soon but why take risks?
In Madrid, at Carlos III hospital where Teresa Romero caught the deadly disease while treating a missionary there, staff have thrown medical gloves at the Spanish prime minister and told him to go away after he went there to visit the nurse infected with Ebola. Hospital staff has rightly so complained that they did not receive the appropriate training to deal with the disease. What chance do we have?
In case of an outbreak it is the “little people” that always suffer so one of the best things to do is to familiarise yourself with the disease, how to avoid it, and to store food in your house. 
In case of an outbreak and martial law and who knows what else, it is always good to have food and clean water stored at home in case you can’t leave your place for a few days or even a few weeks.
Drastic measures?
Not really.
Think of how much money you spend on cosmetics and technology and other crap that you don’t need. 
Why not spend that money instead on food?
Canned food, dried fruit, bottled water, medicine; get it all and be ready for the worst. If nothing happens, even better. You can always eat the food later on. But if something happens and you’re not ready for it, then what? What will you eat? Your iPad? Your iPhone? You better have some ketchup to go with it.
 
On a more serious note, Ebola has already been labelled as the new AIDS, but it could turn out to be much worse. And so far we only know what we are being told, which is not a lot when you think about it. 
Like I said, get ready for the worst even if it doesn’t happens. 
Better to be prepared than to be caught off guard.
 
As I said earlier, in Madrid some staff have refused to attend to possible Ebola cases due to lack of training and safety standards. Worst case scenario, victims of Ebola will just be left to die. Teresa Romero, the nurse who contracted the virus, is being treated with injections with antibodies extracted from the blood of Ebola survivors. Sounds like something out of that movie World War Z, doesn’t it? Let’s hope things don’t get as bad as it did in the movie.
 
So far the Ebola outbreak has claimed close to 4,000 lives in West Africa since the first cases were recorded in Guinea last year, but the number could increase dramatically if nothing is done about it. The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids and causes fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, and even internal bleeding. 
Some conspiracy theorists have come forward to say that this is a way of controlling the population, diminishing it and put it to a lower number. Fingers are being pointed and rumours are being spread, but as of yet no one really knows what’s happening. Or maybe someone knows and they’re keeping us in the dark.
It wouldn’t be the first time, would it?
 
And even if a cure is found for this disease, at first it will be limited and who do you think will get it first?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

► Flying Car - Terrafugia Transition street-legal aircraft



Flying car- Terrafugia
Remember those series of the past when we saw cars flying in the air? Many of us thought that such thing would never be possible while others thought that flying cars would be the future. Well, a recently invented hybrid car that can run on the road can also fly, but how would that be for air traffic? Can you imagine how air traffic would become with flying cars, drones, aeroplanes, et al?
The flying car, named Terrafugia TF-X, sounds like a good idea, but wouldn’t it be better just to build more electric cars and care for the Planet instead?


From what I read on another blog, Terrafugia TF-x can fly within a radius of 800 km. To ensure a safe flight are enabled wings like an airplane.
It should also be noted that it has two seats and a maximum speed in flight of about 222 km / h, has a single engine and cabin is unpressurized. The favorable, as sources said, as the driver of such a prototype would need approximately 5 hours to learn how it works. On the other hand, the flying car will be equipped with a wide range of safety systems. Engineers say it could enter the market more than 12 years.

As for me, I’ll stay faithful to my bicycle.


My books I, Can: fragments of a life and This is Not the End are available on Amazon

One of Oldest Known Synagogues Seized by ISIS - Middle East - News - Arutz Sheva

One of Oldest Known Synagogues Seized by ISIS - Middle East - News - Arutz Sheva



Click above link to read article. (And read the comments that come afterwards too.)