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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

PerfectlyWritePoetry: A Living Will

PerfectlyWritePoetry: A Living Will: This poem was first written as part of a  story and has been published in its present form by Mark Ulyseas of   L ive Encounters Magazine ...

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

What Will Larry and Kate Do Next?

Dan SoferSouth African-born software creator Daniel J Miller is not all he seems.

So it’s no surprise that when he wears his other hat as writer, Dan Sofer (sofer is Hebrew for ‘writer’ or ‘scribe’), his stories are not as they appear on first reading.

Now aged 40, he emigrated to Israel about 15 years ago and presently lives in Jerusalem with his family. So as a fellow immigrant I was delighted to see how he uses his short story, Larry and Kate to give general audiences a lighthearted and engaging perspective of some very serious truths about Israel and being a Jew in the modern world.  But what will these characters do next? Larry and Kate

Dan's fiction has appeared in Midstream magazine and he released his first novel, A Love and Beyond, last year.

© Natalie Wood (18 October 2016)

Sunday, 16 October 2016

One Woman’s Appeal for ‘No War, No More’

On November 23 1956 the ancient Jewish community of Egypt was obliterated overnight.

Suez Crisis 1956 (Redflood)

Thousands of people, many of whose families had helped to create the country’s modern infrastructure, were  expelled on the orders of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. His move was naked revenge for Israel’s  role in the three-pronged attack on the country following his nationalisation of the Suez Canal.

But memories are short and when sixty years later a survivor like IBM executive, Alexandre (Alec) Nacamuli mentions that he was born in Egypt,  people remark “’that’s interesting, but didn’t all the Jews leave with Moses?’”

Then there’s writer and International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace founder-director Dr Ada Aharoni, whose devotion to her cause far predates the modern ’second exodus’ of Jews from all Arab lands, not just Egypt. 

Indeed, her interest first blossomed aged only 12 during a  “Women for Peace and Equality" meeting at her grandmother’s Cairo home, where she saw “women of all ages: Muslim, Jewish and Christian women and young girls … many of them sitting on the carpet, because there were no more free chairs.”

So it is difficult to grasp that any and all inter-community goodwill in Egypt was meaningless and that in a grotesque reprise of what had happened in Nazi Germany a bare 20 years before, the Nasser regime ordered 25,000 Jews to leave the country while 1,000 more were imprisoned or sent to detention camps.

The exiles were allowed to take only a suitcase, a small amount of cash and also forced to sign declarations "donating" their property to the Egyptian government. Some Jews were even hostaged to quell potential protests.

But Aharoni’s family had already been expelled  in 1949 after her father’s work permit was revoked and even then the Egyptian authorities confiscated the money he had transferred to a Swiss bank.

The family fled to France, but 16-year-old Aharoni moved on to Israel where despite everything – including two personal tragedies -   she has continued writing and lecturing and has even produced a documentary movie, The Pomegranate of Reconciliation and Honour.

Aharoni, who writes in English, Hebrew and French, recently invited me to look at several of her 27 books,  all devoted to her abiding concern for world peace and reconciliation, focussing largely on that between Arabs and Jews.

A favourite must be the prize winning memoir  of German-Jewish Nurse Sister Thea Wolf  who was head nurse at the Jewish Hospital in Alexandria during World War II and where, contrary to what I’ve written above, an extraordinary close, affectionate collaboration between all staff and local citizens helped to save many European Jews from perishing in the Holocaust.

No wonder everyone who reads Not in Vain: An Extraordinary Life is charmed by the way in which Aharoni uses Sister Wolf’s haphazard medical and diary notes, charting her life and work in an episodic Dr. Finlay's Casebook fashion, revealing a woman at once beguiling and formidable;  an apparent doe-eyed innocent who is yet immensely shrewd.

Next I turn to Aharoni’s play, A Day of Honey A  Day of Onions which follows the story of Egyptian Jewry’s ‘second exodus’ through the eyes of a cherished, spoilt Cairo girl and her a lover, a Holocaust survivor. Here, the author illustrates first, the sinister reality beneath apparent Muslim-Jewish cordiality and later describes the real privations endured by earlier waves of immigrants to modern Israel and even the occasional friction between those from the west (Ashkenazim) and the east (Sephardim).

The author continues her peace quest in a children’s book, Peace Flower: A Space Adventure for Children and Youth.

Then there are two  poetry collections, New Poems from Israel (Not in Your War Any More) and The Pomegranate: Love and Peace Poems. Last, I looked at an edited collection of women’s writing, Women Creating a World Beyond War and Violence, where Aharoni encourages readers to reproduce parts of the book gratis “in as many languages as possible, to as many people as possible.”

Most remarkable is correspondence between a Haifa resident, the late Ruth Lys and Jehan Anwar El-Sadat, wife of the  Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Mrs Lys’s son was aged only 20 when he was killed in the opening hours of the 1967 Six Day War while Mr Sadat,  who made peace with Israel in 1979, was assassinated in October 1981.

** All the books mentioned above are available on Amazon.

© Natalie Wood (16 October 2016)

Thursday, 13 October 2016

PerfectlyWritePoetry: This Nobel Prize Is No Joke!

PerfectlyWritePoetry: This Nobel Prize Is No Joke!: As luck would have it,  I was reading an obituary of Italian Nobel literary laureate, Dario Fo when news broke about this year’s winner, Bo...

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Delayed British Government Report on "’Muslim-Only’ Zones"

The British Government has been accused of “allowing some areas [of the country] to operate as if they were Muslim-only zones." The Home Office is also alleged to have delayed and attempted to dilute the contents and publication of a damning report about the impact of mass immigration on Britain.


British Muslims 2011 Census


The allegation was first made in The Sunday Times this week and repeated by the US-based Investigative Project on Terrorism.

The Sunday Times claimed that the Home Office was trying to censor a report that made “blunt and damning criticisms of ministers’ failure to manage the impact of mass immigration, integrate minorities and tackle extremism. The report, by government integration ‘tsar’, Dame Louise Casey, has been ready for months, but publication has been delayed after Home Office officials expressed ‘concern’ and ‘unhappiness’ about its content and language.”

The government was also charged with “failing to defend the UK's counter extremism programme (‘Prevent’) so allowing Islamists to freely label ‘Prevent’as an attack targeting all Muslims.

Professional sources have claimed also that senior Home Office official Charlie Edwards, revealed that the Casey report would be drastically rewritten to minimise its findings:

‘"He (Edwards) told us the Home Office didn't like it and was trying to find a way to water it down," one source said. A Home Office spokesperson refused to deny these allegations. Another source added that Edwards believed the "report focussed too narrowly on Muslim extremism and integration."

The report also allegedly overturns Islamists' assertions that right wing extremism is as dangerous to Britain as radical Islamism. In the past 15 years, Islamists were responsible for almost all terrorist plots in Britain.

Dame Louise’s anti-extremism strategy also investigates whether Islamists have infiltrated public institutions and sought to promote Shari'a law. She has claimed that some officials just 'mak[e] excuses'...'looking at [their] shoes and hoping it will go away' in the face of extremist and separatist pressure in institutions such as schools and universities."

© Natalie Wood (12 October 2016)

Sage Advice Needed Here

When we recall the story of the Vietnamese Boat People we tend to think of refugees who fled their war ravaged homeland and Communism to integrate successfully into many areas of the West.

But not everyone was so fortunate.

Lina SageTake, for example, the story of Lina Sage and her family who were among 50,000 refugees who settled in Canada when she was barely 12 months old.

Not only had her parents been poor village people who found it difficult to cope with suburban life, but her father was an ex-jailbird who had dabbled in drug trafficking while her mother was accustomed to playing the submissive role in their relationship. He swiftly became a violent drunkard while an uncle who lived with them to help meet their living costs began to sexually abuse Lina when she was aged only six.

So Sage’s memoir, The Last Ten Pounds ** is not about the family’s struggle to integrate into Canadian life but her personal story of coping with the effects of the abuse, an attempted suicide in her mid-teens, a failed marijuana ‘grow op’, then her period as an escort.

Sage now works as a self-styled writer, speaker, producer and entrepreneur - and the creator and founder of ‘Chic Spirituality’, a movement whose adherents live their lives by surrounding themselves with beautiful things.

The title of her book does not relate to money or weight, but to being helped by therapy to slough off the last vestige of the emotional baggage that had encumbered her for so many years.

Like everyone else, I am deeply sorry that Sage suffered so much as a child and young woman, but I am convinced that if even half her story is true then she brought much of the misery upon herself.

Although her tale has a fascinating horror in its deep-down dirty awfulness, I cannot recommend it in its present form as it requires a thorough, professional rewrite.

The Last Ten Pounds** The Last Ten Pounds is available on Kindle @ $2.99.

© Natalie Wood (12 October 2016)

Saturday, 1 October 2016

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Celebrating ‘Jewtown’

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Celebrating ‘Jewtown’:   Just in time for the Jewish New Year I’ve received  a sweet gift of poetry celebrating the story of the once vibrant Jewish community of...

Sunday, 25 September 2016

She Performs, She Prays …


ANNA.02There must be precious few secular  musicians  invited to lead synagogue prayers.

But this happened last night  in Karmiel, Galilee when vocalist and guitarist, Anna Jagielska-Riveiro took part in a prayer service following a 60-minute solo recital at Kehillat Hakerem Masorti Congregation.

Riveiro was invited to perform and then help to lead prayers by the community’s rabbi, Dr Gil Nativ as they had become friends when he served the Beit Warszawa Liberal Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland.

aNNA.01Riveiro, also a voice coach and music producer, accompanied herelf on a mix of instruments including guitar and tambourine, while she treated the enthusaistic crowd to a range of Ladino – Judeo-Spanish melodies. These proved especially popular with fans who have emigrated to Israel from Spanish-speaking South America.


© Natalie Wood (25 September 2016)

5777 כתיבה וחתימה טובה



The first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, falls next week, Monday 03 October 2016. May everyone who is celebrating have a great 5777.

With all these traditionally holy number ‘sevens’ in the year, we should be well sealed!


Best regards to all family and friends.

Natalie Wood and Brian Fink

Google-plus Tags: Rosh Hashana Greeting 5777

© Natalie Wood (25 September 2016)