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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Loud but Not Proud

The late Lionel Blue, Britain’s first openly gay rabbi, would feel great empathy with the author of My Real Hue *.

He would understand his struggles with his sexuality; the desperate appeal of psychoanalysis and the monstrous love-hate relationship with a domineering, controlling mother.

My Real HueMoreover, while of course retaining a profound Jewish identity, Blue was drawn to Christianity. So he may well also have understood, even admired how the pseudonymousDan Yves Eisner’ has not only became an active member of the Protestant United Church of Christ in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA but has become the only Jewish moderator (highest lay leader of a UCC Church) in the United States and possibly the world!

Now Eisner maintains that his Church activities “gave me a sense of belonging and affiliation I never inherited from my blood family”.

Eisner’s hastily sketched memoir begins and ends with what may or may not have happened to his French-born mother’s family when the Nazis invaded France. He does not consider the Christian Church’s role in fomenting the Holocaust or indeed the anti-homosexual hate its traditional teachings have inspired.

As Eisner’s brother is heterosexual and has led a conventional Jewish life despite experiencing the same dysfunctional upbringing, this reader has been left wondering if Eisner’s story is another example of the ongoing ‘nature versus nurture’ debate and whether, indeed, a broken personality like his is somehow drawn irresistibly towards a form of worship that runs in complete contradistinction to his heritage. It would undoubtedly need a psychoanalyst to help determine that.

Despite my many personal caveats, My Real Hue will most likely prove popular with those who enjoy fashionable topics like Holocaust memoirs, struggles with self and coming out as gay in a hostile world. I am, however, disappointed that the author employs a pen-name as heis protecting no-one but himself.

* My Real Hue is available from Amazon on Kindle ($9.99) and Paperback ($14.93).

© Natalie Wood (20 August 2017)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Yes: Far Too Soon to Say Goodbye!

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Yes: Far Too Soon to Say Goodbye!: As we mark the bi-centenary of the death of novelist, Jane Austen scholars still debate its cause. Was it tuberculosis, cancer, Addison’s d...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Israel Sports Its Rainbow

MACC.20If anything expresses the essence of Israel as a rainbow nation it is surely the Maccabiah Games which this year attracted 10,000 participants from 80 countries.


Thanks to Nefesh B’Nefesh I was among the hundreds present at the Acco Municipal Stadium on Sunday to see two back-to-back soccer matches played in sweltering temperatures of about 35˚C (95˚F),  first Israel v USA girls, then Israel v Mexico boys.


The 17th Maccabiah Games are due to end with tonight’s closing ceremony in Latrun, midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Now I’ll let some more  pictures do the talking:



MACC.21  MACC.22



© Natalie Wood (17 July 2017)

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Coco Lite!

I am convinced that the major self-publishing companies are wholly honourable and while their services are not cheap they wish to do their best for their client- writers.

So believe them when they warn that the reading public does judge a book by its cover.

Moreover, unless debut self-published authors are from professional writing backgrounds, they should invest in reliable proofing and editing services.

COCOI thought about this for the umpteenth time on trying to review **Coco's Story - The Early Years  by Tomás Berlín who has produced six very striking covers for his mystery crime series but who has given himself and potential readers vast editorial problems to solve. I appeal to him to go no further with current production plans but to employ the type of professional help I suggest.

** Coco’s Story – The Early Years is available at Amazon on Kindle ($3.99); Paperback ($14.25).

© Natalie Wood (16 July 2017)

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Restoring Miss Toyah

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Restoring Miss Toyah: ‘Erasure poetry’ is defined as a form of ‘found poetry’ or ‘found art’ created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse and ...

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Musical Works - In Eight Great Hands!

Watching the Israel Musicals’ show, Ode to a Golden Age, I could not help but think of On The Other Hand, the title of the long-running Jewish Chronicle newspaper column written by Chaim Bermant.
In one regard, the production paralleling the respective genius of strictly Orthodox cantor Yossele Rosenblatt and the secular but avowedly Jewish Broadway composer, George Gershwin is so odd it shouldn’t work well - even in Israel.
It shouldn’t work at all.
But last week, as an ESRA Karmiel audience swiftly discovered, tenor Rabbi Yisrael (Seth) Lutnik and award-winning Haredi pianist, Haim Tukachinsky, somehow transcended the strangeness and put the two late stars through their paces as deftly as anyone may wish.
How did they do it? I’m still not quite sure!
It is not because of Lutnik’s quirky form of ‘storytelling historical concert’.
This, to be honest, I found confusing.
It was, I suggest, because Lutnik somehow illustrated that secular Gershwin was as deeply religious as the cantor and that Rosenblatt, like all artistes, was simply desperate for an audience. But that was at a price: only if he could express his Jewish soul; continue his ongoing ‘dialogue with God’.
Gershwin’s music often revealed his Jewish background. Indeed, while fellow US Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein mused that the themes in Rhapsody in Blue were “terrific – inspired, God-given …” there were pieces from the folk opera Porgy and Bess as assuredly Jewish as they were African American.
But I keep thinking of the song, Someone to Watch over Me from the show, Oh, Kay! While its title was devised, not by George’s brother Ira but by another Jewish lyricist, Howard Dietz, its sentiments, I am convinced are most psalmic, reminding me, no matter how and by whom it is sung, of Psalm 121.
So, as Lutnik has featured ol’ blue eyes in another show, I conclude here with Frank Sinatra’s distinctly balladic call for romantic – even divine protection.

© Natalie Wood (25 June 2017)

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Alwayswriteagain: Lots of Bread – But Not In Bed!

Alwayswriteagain: Lots of Bread – But Not In Bed!: The wide variety of bread salads available throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East is due surely to the region’s ancient peasant cu...

Lots of Bread – But Not In Bed!

The wide variety of bread salads available throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East is due surely to the region’s ancient peasant cultures and the need for desperate cooks to feed large, starving families as cheaply and swiftly as possible.

I know from gorging on Italian panzanella, Lebanese fattoush and Greek dakos that they make a wonderful one course meal that can keep you feeling satisfied for hours.

Bread SaladSo I was intrigued to flip through Bread Salad and Italian Men – A 60s Food Memory ** by US writer Marjorie Harris who like many women of a certain class and era has maintained a half-drunk ardour for Italian food – and handsome men – long after everyone’s supposed to know better!

Harris, who boasts a doctorate in Italian literature and a background in law, recalls ogling the copy of Michelangelo’s David in the Piazza dell a Signoria, Florence and wonders how anyone viewing it could not “be captivated by the beauty of the archetypal Italian male”?

True enough! But I must remind the author that the original David lived not a thousand miles from where I sit writing this in western Galilee and where all the ingredients for an Israeli style tomato-bread salad with za’atar vinaigrette are easily available. I invite her to visit and would be delighted to host her to some nosh accompanied by a splash of our favourite local merlot!

This new book is her second in a series of short food memoirs, the first being based on her aunt’s ‘hot pink kugel’ Oy!

** The Kindle edition of Bread Salad and Italian Men: A 60’s Food Memory by Marjorie Harris is presently available  for free download at Amazon.

© Natalie Wood (24 June 2017)