Four perfect Rosh Hashanah meals, with the usual array of different foods which symbolise a sweet New Year, God's judgement, the banishing of enemies and so on (i.e. apples and honey, carrots, beetroot). Also pomegranates whose seed symbolise the 613 mitzvot. http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Rosh+ha-Shanah+foods&meta=
And for the first time a sabra: this is a prickly pear, which is soft on the inside. Just like the Israelis themselves, which is why they are also called sabras. I wouldn't call them tasty, but definitely interesting. http://www.answers.com/topic/sabra
A lovely Israeli couple invited my daughter (visiting from Tel Aviv) and me and laid on a traditional Israeli feast, with speeches about retrospection and the future and assessments of what each member of the family had achieved throughout the year. As well as the religious ceremony there were traditional Israeli songs looking forward to the New Year and linking in with nature and the seasons. There were many songs by the Israeli singer who was popular in my youth, Naomi Shemer http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Naomi+Shemer&meta=.
They introduced me to a carpenter from one of the nearby Druze villages, who will (hopefully) be able to build all the furniture we need.
There were also invitations from two English couples and also an American family. I will never forget the hospitality of all four families and feel that this is a good omen for the coming New Year.
Today, I visited the Ephraim Zemach primary school in nearby Tirat-ha-Carmel http://www.tirat-carmel.org.il/. They would like me to teach four hours of extra English to pupils from underprivileged backgrounds.
They are obviously keen on English, because I was phoned at a quarter to midnight last night. Only in Israel!!
The school was awarded 'the 'Israel Education Prize' in the State Religious primary schools category, because of its outstanding efforts and achievements in giving high levels of both Jewish and general education to all kinds of students from different religious and socio-ecomonic backgrounds'
They desperately need funds, so I hope that readers of this blog might consider making a donation.
The computer facilities, especially, appear to be excellent and I learned a thing or two myself from the computer coordinator about the origin of some English-language songs which I had until now thought were completely innocent http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda/.
The round trip will take two hours at least and the bus from my house goes only once an hour and then I have to change at the central bus station. But the upside is that I might manage to swim in the sea, both en route and on the way back.
This is exactly the sort of work I had envisaged doing, if possible, and once again, I think this is a good omen for the New Year.
Lord Carey gave a speech last night on the subject of Islam. See this article here.
Much of it is sheer common sense. Dialogue with Muslims is very difficult. Certain subjects are always off limits and always the ones they decide on.
Dialogue does not work unless you feel you can learn from the other. Dialogue is not diatribe. It should be a meeting of minds, even if not a fusion. Ironically, Judaism is supposed to have far more in common with Islam than it has with Christianity. But if this was ever the case in the past, it certainly doesn't seem to be the case now.
Melanie has summed it all up:
I gave my own lecture in Haifa yesterday, entitled Approaching the Media: New Perspectives. During the lecture I tried to get under the skin of what makes the British media tick and what they are looking for in a news story. And why it is helpful to understand the British mentality, which has shifted completely in the last 50 years. I was helped enormously by friends in the media, including the BBC.
But some at the top of the BBC have become very arrogant and this does not augur well for the future. Northern Israelis are still very angry at what they perceive to be BBC bias against them in the last War and the BBC has a long way to go to prove that they are not bending over backwards to defend atrocities committed in the name of Islam. The way they have reported on the Pope's recent lecture, for instance, appears to have been very slanted.
In question-time after my lecture yesterday, I heard some terrible stories of BBC bias against Haifa during the War against Hezbollah: eye-witness accounts. And they really beggared belief. The rudeness of BBC staff towards ordinary Haifans still rankles in those people who attended my lecture.
The BBC will have to get its act together and stop acting as if the British were still in charge here.
They are not.
And today I went shopping for the hagim. The best time to go is midday. As it is coming up to Rosh Hashanah, people were being encouraged to buy a bit more and donate it to charity for those many people in Israel who are going hungry. What a good idea!
Then I attended my Gemara shiur. And we were round a table already set for the twenty or thirty people who have been invited for Rosh Hashanah at my friend's house.
But funnily enough, we have the same problem here ordering turkeys as we did in England. It is a last-minute thing and my friend turned up to the shop today as requested, but found that they had not arrived. And she hopes it will arrive tomorrow.
Just like Broughton Park.
May I recommend the second in this series of BBC Radio 4 broadcasts:
a joint collaboration of the Royal Society of Arts and the BBC's Religion and Ethics Unit.
The iconoclast was Rabbi Michael Melchior, Chief Rabbi of Denmark, but hailing from Norway and now living in Israel. I first met him in Norway at the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony and now we are both trustees of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East http://www.frme.org.uk/, CEO Canon Andrew White, which was originally the brainchild of former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.
Frankly, I don't think Michael's views are that out of the ordinary at all, but constitute plain common sense. Of course religion has to be part of the peace process, especially since Hamas and Hezbollah have gained power. And the guy from Yesha, the settlers' group, also came over quite well. http://www.geocities.com/m_yericho/yishuvim.htm
But what was really iconoclastic about the programme was that it was the first time that I can remember that the BBC has broadcast a very serious programme about Israel which was not hostile. The participants agreed to differ without hurling abuse at each other. At the end, some sort of consensus was reached. And you felt a great deal of warmth and good-will emanate from it (no, I'm not going soft: from here in Haifa, you really did feel good-will).
There used to be a name for this type of excellent BBC programme and it was: The Reith Lectures. Maybe they could be resurrected using input from Phil and others in the the Religion and Ethics Unit, based in my home town of Manchester.
The more I know of Phil Pegum, the producer, the more I respect him. He also managed to find the time on the very day of final editing to input into a lecture I'm giving here in Haifa on Tuesday.
HADASSAH-ISRAEL OREN CHAPTER, HAIFA
A brand new immigrant to Haifa,
DR IRENE LANCASTER FRSA
will speak on “APPROACHING THE MEDIA – NEW PERSPECTIVES”
TUES 19th SEPT 3.30pm – 5.30pm
MOADON SINAI, 8 Sderot Sinai, Ahuza, Haifa
Entrance: NIS 10 (includes light refreshments)
We look forward to welcoming you all!
Haifa Oren Chapter
Phil and I had a very no-holds-barred e-mail discussion, of the Israeli type I'm getting more used to (even if he is Welsh).
And I am proud to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts http://www.rsa.org.uk/, which hosted the event.
Immediately I finished downloading and writing an appreciative e-mail to Phil, I received a lovely phone call from someone who I will be meeting at the Mayor of Haifa's Rosh ha-Shanah reception tomorrow evening.
And, best of all, I then managed to mend the switch on the TV, which even the excellent Ernest from HOT hadn't managed to do. So can now dispense with the tooth-pick.