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Sunday 5 September 2021

I Have Moved!

 A series of Google Blogger technical hitches have caused me to move on.

I may now be found at:

where details of a free newsletter subscription are also available.

With thanks for all readers' continuing support and best wishes to Jewish friends for a happy New Year of 5782.


Sunday 11 July 2021

Israel’s Mediterranean Diet Wiped off the Map!

I started reading this **book  with great enthusiasm.


I’ve long enjoyed a vegetarian Mediterranean diet and fully support Christopher Hernandez’s view that it helps those who follow it to maintain a healthy weight and to reduce potential physical and cerebral ill-health.

I also agree that much of the huge increase in obesity throughout western society is due to pervasive ‘snacking’ and ‘grazing’ rather than for regular traditional home-cooked group meals.

But modern life is complex; usually hectic and sometimes solitary. So many readers will find much of his well-intentioned but misplaced advice startling and impractical.

Take time off work to food shop and then prepare it?

Make complicated hot egg dishes like shakshuka and frittata for breakfast with one eye on the clock and the other on the front door ready for the school run? And what about the washing up ..?

I don’t think so!

I am also disappointed – but unsurprised – that Hernandez makes no reference to Israeli food along with that of its near neighbours. After all, its western coast abuts the Mediterranean and the ancient diet’s basic ingredients of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates are mentioned in the biblical book of Deuteronomy.

“The Book of Deuteronomy mentions the seven species that the Land of Israel is blessed with: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. The term “seven species” is not mentioned in the Bible; this is a post-biblical expression: “Bikkurim are brought only from seven kinds [species], but none [may be brought] from dates grown on hills, or from valleys-fruits, or from olives that are not of the choice kind”

“(Mishnah, Tractate Bikkurim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3).

“Six of the seven species grow wild in Israel: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives and dates; the origin of the pomegranate is not known. The seven species ripen throughout the year: first to ripen is wheat, in the spring, and the last are olives and dates, in the early autumn. The order in which they appear in the biblical verse is also the order in which they ripen. The seven species constituted the basis of the economy in antiquity and great importance was ascribed to their fruit: they could be eaten fresh, stored and preserved for long periods, dried (figs, dates and grapes) and crushed (olives), and they could also be processed for products such as oil and wine”.

It looks like Hernandez prefers political correctness to historical truth as the wonderful diet we both enjoy is not a mere millennium old – but stretches into pre-history and has developed over a period of somewhere between three-five thousand years.

To end, I beg more in despair than expectation, that independent authors start to treat reviewers with more respect.

I do hope, for example, that this book’s published Kindle edition has been properly proofread as the pdf copy I was sent is littered with silly errors, especially in the recipe sections  where accuracy is crucial.

** Mediterranean Diet Essentials: A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Weight and Eating Healthy with Easy-to-Follow Mediterranean Diet Recipes is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $6.99.

© Natalie Wood (11 July 2021)

Sunday 13 June 2021

‘An Indian Male Thing’

A fellow reviewer of this collection notes the author’s fine poetic voice.

She is also wickedly funny!

Gods Nukes

The semi-fictional universe of **Gods, Nukes and a Whole Lot of Nonsense teems with male fraudsters: deceitful mystics; unholy, rapacious beggars; oversexed street food vendors; conniving civil servants - and even an apparent real-life divinity who disappears most disappointingly during a plane journey somewhere into the ether.

The cited characters above are non-Jews. But perhaps Shirani Rajapakse invited me to read this, her latest batch of stories, not only because she includes a jolly, cacophonous band of visiting Israeli musicians but also because Jewish Indians in Israel would recognise their western counterparts at every hallowed and so lucrative tourist spot they may name.

Rajapakse and I are acquainted only online. So I am unsure whether she is a stern political feminist, an unrepentant misandrist - or just a natural cynic.

Never mind!

Netanyahu Modi


Here she draws a devastating portrait of an India – where like Israel – pools of an unpleasant, ancient patriarchy swirl menacingly just beneath the tides of daily life.

**Gods, Nukes and a Whole Lot of Nonsense is available from Amazon on Kindle ($8.99) and Paperback ($15.99).

© Natalie Wood (13 June 2021)

Saturday 8 May 2021

From Patient to Therapist Via the Aikido Path

Rachel Kling’s ** story is that of a ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’:



After an abusive childhood culminating in severe catatonic psychosis during her early twenties, she first found refuge and healing in the Japanese martial art, Aikido and then trained as a psychotherapist.

Aikido, a complex combination of self-defence, philosophy and religion, is considered controversial in the world of Mixed Martial Arts as its critics claim it is ineffective and can cause small joint injuries. This, indeed, happened to the author who accomplished some of her training in a cast!

Her memoir is short, running to fewer than 100 pages. I suggest it would be better served either as an even shorter Aikido manual with a full glossary of the relevant Japanese terms or alternatively, as a full-length memoir in which she fleshes out the characters and backgrounds of her Jewish Communist parents, other family members and acquaintances.

** My Walk on the Aikido Path is available from Amazon in Kindle or paperback format.


© Natalie Wood (08 May 2021)

Monday 26 April 2021

Three Rabbis – and a Rom-Com!

The idea of linking a 20th century comic British film, two ancient Talmudic sages and some serious Torah study sounds like a work from the theatre of the absurd.

But hang on  …

Lights! – Camera! – Action!

Gil Nativ


Enter centre stage, Rabbi Dr Gil Nativ, the immediate past incumbent of the Kehilat Hakerem Masorti Synagogue, Karmiel, whose Sabbath morning sermon to a mixed crowd of regular congregants and visitors on a Masa Israel trip, combined the day’s Torah reading, local 3rd century CE celebrity savants, Bar Kappara – with ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’!

Rabbi Nativ, a third generation Israeli who fought as a paratrooper during the 1967 Six Day War, was speaking barely three kilometers (about two miles) from the Bar Kappara family tomb in the suburb of Givat Ram.



Noting that those in the Masa Israel crowd would not have been born when the movie was first released in 1994, Rabbi Nativ explained that the Torah employed ‘unique’ Hebrew terms to list sexual offences like homosexuality, bestiality and intercourse with two women (mother and daughter), all of which sins carried the death penalty.

He added that Bar Kappara expounded on the words’ meaning at the wedding of Rabbi Simeon ben Rabbi – “An amazing similarity to the wedding speech of Hugh Grant in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.

Rabbi Nativ may also have observed that the movie presented a gay relationship of  stability and affection that was in stark contrast to those of the brief, faithless heterosexual affairs around it.

This is exemplified in the funeral oration given by the surviving partner  when his lover dies and he recites ‘Funeral Blues’, a universally loved poem by Anglo-American W H Auden – also a homosexual.

Indeed, Hugh Grant, as Charles says:

“Ladies and gentlemen, l'm sorry to drag you from your desserts. There are just one or two little things I feel I should say, as best man. This is only the second time l've been a best man. I hope I did OK that time. The couple in question are at least still talking to me. Unfortunately, they're not actually talking to each other. The divorce came through a couple of months ago. But l'm assured it had absolutely nothing to do with me. Paula knew Piers had slept with her sister before I mentioned it in the speech. The fact that he'd slept with her mother came as a surprise, but I think was incidental to the nightmare of recrimination and violence that became their two-day marriage. Anyway, enough of that. My job today is to talk about Angus. There are no skeletons in his cupboard. Or so I thought. I'll come on to that in a minute. I would just like to say this. I am, as ever, in bewildered awe of anyone who makes this kind of commitment that Angus and Laura have made today. I know I couldn't do it and I think it's wonderful they can. So, back to Angus and those sheep”.

Four Weddings


The film was conceived and written by Richard Curtis, whose father was a Czech refugee of Italian heritage and whose own long-time partner is Emma Freud, great granddaughter of Sigmund.

© Natalie Wood (26 April 2021)

Wednesday 7 April 2021

A Government of ‘Concerned’ Israelis

Israel’s Yesh Atid Party leader, Yair Lapid continues to call for a government of consensus, based on pluralism and mutual respect.



Responding to a ‘scathing’ and ‘insulting’ media debate concerning the political bias of any new government, Lapid has retorted in a message to party supporters:

“The answer is that this will be the government of concerned Israelis. Those who think … it is much more important to take care of livelihoods and peace at home in Israeli society. Suspicion will lead us nowhere. We must make a ‘leap of faith’, he urged and so build a government that is based on the fact that we believe that other people, who think differently, also want it to be good here”.

Mr Lapid, who has offered Yamina Party chief Naftali Bennett first crack at a rotating premiership in any putative joint government, noted that while incumbent premier Benjamin Netanyahu had been given the mandate to form the next government, “that does not mean we stop working.

The goal was and remains … to form a national consensus government, which will address the deep crisis we are in”.

The government Lapid proposes would include three “distinct right-wing parties (Yamina, New Hope and Yisrael Beiteinu), two centre-right parties (Yesh Atid and Blue and White) and two left-wing Zionist parties (Labour and Meretz).

“This means that no-one will get everything they want, but there will be a balance that will force us to focus on practical goals: the budget, health, education - the urgent need to lower the flames in Israeli society. Along the way, we must also change our flawed system of government.

“No-one will abandon his ideology, but right now we have more urgent problems. The children have not been in school this year; hospitals are collapsing. We need to prepare for the day when hundreds of thousands of Israelis will stop receiving unemployment benefit. These problems are not of right and left, but of real people who have real lives. They will not be resolved by headlines but by ministers who come to work”.


© Natalie Wood (07 April 2021)

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Why This Writer Turned to Crime!

There is nothing professional writers enjoy more than some serious literary research.

Today, for example, I have followed an intense social media thread about the use of apostrophes with plural possessive nouns and now I have the pleasure of hosting a piece that includes the word ‘up-lit – a genre of which I was previously unaware.

Miriam Drori


All thanks for this new knowledge is due to my friend and fellow Anglo-Israeli MIRIAM DRORI, who was born and brought up in London and now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and one of her adult children.

Miriam has written romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, ‘up-lit’ and crime, not all of which are currently available. She says that she writes to entertain readers. If they also learn from her writing, that’s an added advantage.

Below is a first-person account of Miriam Drori’s writerly journey and how and why she’s produced her latest book. **


Why Write? Why Crime?

Back in 2002, when I was almost fifty, I added my name to a list of ‘old girls’ of my school. I didn’t expect anything to come out of that, but it led to a few new friendships and a series of daily emails with another former pupil, in which I wrote, among other things, about problems I’d had since our school days, and she told me about social anxiety.

I joined an online forum for people with social anxiety and the posts I read there created in me a passion to raise awareness of this common but little-known problem. Writing was clearly the way for me to do this. I was a technical writer at the time. I knew I could express myself in writing, better than I ever could in conversation.

My first project was a guide to social anxiety, explaining what it is and the different ways in which it manifests itself in different people. I included numerous quotes from people I met online, who agreed to let me use their words as long as they weren’t identified. This book was eventually published as Social Anxiety Revealed.

Why did I move on to writing fiction? I suppose I thought that would be a better way of attracting those who thought the topic had nothing to do with them. In reality it affects everyone, because we’ve all met people who have been restricted by social anxiety. Everyone should know how to react to them and with them. I didn’t limit myself to writing only about social anxiety, but I didn’t lose sight of my passion.

Little did I know what I was letting myself in for. The more I read about creative writing, the more I realised how much I didn’t know. And yet, I found myself enjoying the process. I used lunchtimes and travelling times to do the exercises from my latest how-to-write book, and I discovered things about myself. The most important thing I discovered was my imagination. I thought I didn’t have one, but I think everyone does. If yours is hidden, you should find it, because when you do, you’ll discover yourself.

After writing romance, historical fiction, ‘up-lit’ and more, why have I now turned to crime? It came from a “what if” question that wouldn’t go away. When I first tried to write a novel, I conjured up a main character with social anxiety and a plot that wasn’t very exciting. Fortunately, I wisely discarded that novel, but it taught me a lot about writing, and gave me a character who remained with me. Two “what if” questions niggled at me:

· What if he was accused of committing a murder?

· What if he was sent to Japan to represent the company where he worked?

The second question won, and turned into my novel: Cultivating a Fuji. But the first question kept crying out, “Me, too!” until I was forced to listen. I couldn’t use the same character in a crime novel, so I changed him. I put him in Jerusalem, instead of Bournemouth, UK. I changed his name, to Asaf, and his profession, and brought in new characters to interact with him … or to try to interact. One of those characters is just as much, if not more, of a main character as Asaf is. Nathalie is a new immigrant from France. She’s intelligent and feisty, and refuses to listen to the advice thrown at her from all directions.

Style and the Solitary


** This crime novel, Style and the Solitary, will be published by Darkstroke Books on 26 April 2021


Miriam Drori may be found online at and on social media.


© Natalie Wood (03 March 2021)