Thursday, 8 November 2018
Monday, 5 November 2018
A short video compilation of scenes from last week’s memorial service for the 11 victims of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Karmiel Misgav has strong municipal and personal links through a city ‘twinning’ arrangement and the Partnership 2gether progamme.
I understand that the event was arranged by P2G Karmiel-Misgav Pittsburgh.
© Natalie Wood (05 November 2018)
Sunday, 4 November 2018
Friday, 2 November 2018
The past week has been bloody murder.
Who needs the death penalty when a Jew-hating, gun-toting, psychopath may obliterate 11 innocent people at prayer in a single stroke?
Why talk loftily of ‘the unity of the Jewish people’ when the Tree of Life Synagogue murders have caused an unholy row in Israel and another in the US where strictly Orthodox Rabbi Mordechai Aderet allegedly told his followers not to attend a vigil for those slain because the attack had happened during a circumcision ceremony for the adopted twins of gay parents.
Then in Karmiel, which enjoys close municipal and social links with Pittsburgh both through a twinning agreement and the ‘Partnership 2gether’ programme, no Orthodox rabbi attended the public memorial service held at the local cultural centre. If nothing else it would have been a chance to bid farewell to Adi Eldar, the city’s long-serving mayor who was due to retire the same evening and whose final act in office was to announce a planned physical memorial for the dead.
I have been told the rabbis were not specifically invited. Did they need a handwritten personalised note to attend a widely publicised open event at a central locale? The meeting details were easily available on social media and the flier bore the city’s logo. I would not believe anyone who may claim such individuals do ‘not use Facebook’ as many well-known rabbis have a social media presence managed by their staff.
Further, I suggest – perhaps to be corrected - that this sense of alienation was why – at the other end of the religious spectrum – members of the Reform Yedid Nefesh Congregation – organised a separate service.
Next, on to beleaguered US President Donald Trump, whose role continues to be ever-increasingly that of the scapegoat for any and every perceived ill of US society.
For Heaven’s sake! What possible link could the murderer and his victims have with Trump? It could surely be only one that his legion enemies may assert. Why jeer and heckle the president when doing so is disrespecting his office and therefore the flag that patriotic Americans hold so dear.
What happened on Saturday morning last, has no more to do with Trump than the US mid-term elections have any link with me, an expat Briton living in Israel and who therefore has no US vote.
To hold Donald Trump accountable for the carnage at the Etz Chaim (ToL) Synagogue is like incriminating the respective incumbent British premiers for the massacre at the primary school in Dunblane, Scotland; the mass shooting at Hungerford, Berkshire; the murder and attempted beheading of serving British soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby or the more recent Manchester Arena and Westminster bombings.
So let me clear up two misconceptions:
First: It appears that in March this year, there was another failed attempt to tighten US gun control laws. National Public Radio’s written report’s headline read: Repeal the Second Amendment? That's Not So Simple. Here's what it would Take. It also took correspondent Ron Elving about 2,250 words to go nowhere. So it appears that any proposed legislative change is unlikely and that all administrations. no matter the ruling party. are in an eternal bind.
Second: Pennsylvania has a long, inglorious history of Ku Klux Klan activity. So the crazed gunman needed no encouragement to spew his vile rhetoric and go on his synagogue killing spree from anything anyone has said during the current election campaign.
As I write, three British people are being tried as members of National Action, a banned neo-Nazi terrorist group. The jury has seen pictures of the main defendant apparently dressed in Ku Klux Klan regalia while cradling his infant son whose middle name is ‘Adolf’ in tribute to Hitler.
Further, the continuing saga of purported UK Labour Party antisemitism has today taken a new twist with the revelation that the London Metropolitan Police has opened a criminal investigation into the alleged antisemitism of individual party members.
Playing the Jew-hate blame game is futile. Let’s conserve our energies to fight it.
© Natalie Wood (02 November 2018)
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
We had to make two trips to our local polling station in Rabin, Karmiel in order to cast our votes in today’s 2018 Israeli Local Elections.
But it was worth the ten minute return trip as once back, it was delightful to see so many people with a holiday from work queuing (yes, you read that right: Israelis forming a well-mannered queue!) to cast their votes: one each for Karmiel’s new mayor and for one of nine listed parties.
It was especially heartening to see so many children in the crowd; to witness their eager interest in the voting process and to learn what the different Hebrew characters on display symbolised. Indeed, a young mother immediately ahead of us in the crowd was allowed to take her two daughters inside the voting booth with her. That’s Israeli democracy.
© Natalie Wood (30 October 2018)
Saturday, 27 October 2018
Today’s Sabbath morning shooting at the Tree of Life Conservative Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA is akin to a family bereavement for members of the Kehilat Hakerem Masorti Congregation in Karmiel, northern Israel.
Not only have the two cities enjoyed a municipal twinning arrangement since 2006, the Karmiel congregation is due this week to host members of Congregation Beth Shalom, a sister Pittsburgh Conservative community to Tree of Life, during their current visit to Israel. Guests will include Avi Ben-Hur, Director of Education and Scholar in Residence at Classrooms without Borders along with Rabbi Seth Adelson, Senior Rabbi at Beth Shalom Congregation.
The photograph above shows local participants in a Karmiel-Pittsburgh Partnership 2Gether programme.
Among reactions from US expatriates living in Israel is this from a woman based in Jaffa. I have edited her remarks slightly to preserve her anonymity:
“… my stomach .. is in knots, my skin is tingling, I feel agitated and yes, I'm quite freaked out. ...Those that know me well, know that I am the farthest thing from an alarmist but.- the horrific shooting in the Etz Hayim Synagogue in Pittsburgh is in my relatives’ leafy, hilly, lovely neighorhood of Squirrel Hill. They live a few short blocks from there. Just last night they attended services at the other Conservative synagogue in the neighborhood. Such a senseless act of pure hatred by a mad man. I am flooded with emotion -
Thank you with all my heart to the many friends and family who have contacted us to check on my loved ones’welfare”.
© Natalie Wood (27 October 2018)
Friday, 26 October 2018
What with disco-decibel music, two singers, dancing, t-shirts, tote bags and more bunting than you could shake a stick at during this morning’s rally, if Moshe Koninsky is not elected mayor of Karmiel on Tuesday next, then it won’t be for want of trying!
The public address system squealed in rapture, a dozen degalim blew gamely in autumn’s first rain spattered breeze and as the female soloist led the crowd through a bespoke version of that old favourite, The Whole World is a Narrow Bridge, the man himself - dressed in a fetching light blue shirt, not a campaign tee - enjoyed photo opportunities galore even wooing my husband and me by remembering us from a recent meeting at our synagogue and that we speak English!
© Natalie Wood (26 October 2018)