Mum & Dad

The last stamp licked and thumbed onto the envelope, an unplotted plan successfully completed.  Five thirty and it was time to leave, completely relaxed that all tasks were done.  Monday October 30th 1995, 5.30pm, coat on, key at the ready for a quick exit to a quiet evening, but that ring pierced the air with sudden urgency.  Against all desire to leave it unattended, a notion from deep inside compelled that curiosity be satisfied.  His sobs and faltered words needed no confirmation of what lay ahead, that ring the long expected dreaded phone call.  I determined immediately that I would have to go, to be with her, hold her, talk with her and see her through this terrible time.  My desire to go first was agreed that evening, with the others following in rotation every two weeks to take care of her.

Wait listed, I paced the airport in anticipation of somebody being late.  I felt evil, wishing that somebody a misfortune, but I had a plane to catch.  I saw across the check-in room the face of a girl I knew, she half smiled in the certainty that she would give me her place if needs be.  I made it, but do not know whom to thank, an unknown person unknowingly doing a good deed.  They sat me in front of the coach by the window where I silently wiped my damp cheeks head in hand staring at the floor.  I don’t remember sleeping at all but simply a deep sense of relief at being politely ignored as we slid through the cotton wool clouds, the longest flight of four point five hours terminating down the long road that was to become so familiar.

She looked the same but for the cane.  Her pain was such that her friend the handbag man bought her a stick for support when she walked.  My brother showed me the scan of the deadly spot that afflicted her lung after a decade of nicotine assault.  We did the x-ray bit and there it was, on the hip gnawing away at her bone and her soul at the same time.  His eyes caught mine in mutual acknowledgement of the consequences.  We waited for the final pathology test that he delivered in person.  The three of us in the bedroom, him sobbing on her shoulder, she comforting him and me just sitting there, on the end of the bed, watching, blank, no thoughts, no tears, just staring.  She hugged him and held him and he sobbed like I never saw before, when she shifted him away, took his hand and led us to the lounge to find them there, the girls, his wife, my dad, all waiting, all knowing but my dad, innocently hoping that he was simply part of a bad dream that would end in the morning.   The vivid image of her standing on the Persian rug in the center of the lounge:  “ I have cancer, I am going to die”.  I saw my dad’s shoulders move up and down, up and down, he wailed, heaving, up and down, when she walked across the room, took him in her arms and ordered him to stop as “we have no time for this, too much to do”.

The days ahead were filled with appointments and planning for pain relief treatment.  She wanted no intervention, just pain relief.  A pact was made, a trade off, pain relief for food – she would eat to keep her strength as long as he relieved her pain.  And so our daily journeys started, the drive down the motorway, the walk to the waiting room, a little wait, a tattoo, a zap, one day two days, the same routine but, each day a different mission.  My promise, to do whatever she wanted, take her anywhere she wished, my time was hers.  Day one, she packed a bag of clothes and off we went to Jerusalem, the clothes for her friend’s many children and the visit to hand-deliver the news.  That same frankness as she told her friend that she had cancer and was going to die.  Her friend was visibly shaken, such forthrightness is not usual, but then my mum was never a usual type.  She announced quite openly that her friend should be the second wife if my dad ever had a notion to take one.  Blushes all round coloured the dank room.  Day two, the drive, the walk, the wait the zap and the soldiers, her soldiers as she referred to them, had to be looked after, so we collected a couple and drove them all the way to their destination so they would get home sooner to see their people.  She had worked for them, making tea and food as they waited for transport, almost to the end.  I did not know this before, how loved she was. And so the days passed by, we walked on the beach, ate some fish at Dag al haYam and spoke.  She told me about loss, about the death of a mum, she counseled me about her own death and told me what to do, how to feel, what to expect.  She took me to a funeral, limping all the way, standing at the ceremony.  There were many people at that funeral, she shrugged and mentioned that fact in the certainty that not too many would be there for her.  I watched this burial, a tender moment of laying a body to rest whilst setting a soul free, solemn faces all around, some tearstained with dark glasses, a hug from my cousin in her sadness, her dad gone forever.

Monday back on the road, park, walk, sit, zap and back home for a rest, time to sleep from over exhaustion, the lungs wheezing a little.  The next day the walk was out, no energy, a drop off completed, the wait, the zap and back home to rest.  At dinner that night there were many people at her round table eating her food with salad and wine.  The neighbour came in as he was locked out for a while and we all shared some jokes, she too, enjoying the company, especially his son who had come down from the north on a one day pass, the first he knew of her illness, but still not knowing the worst, as really did none of us at that time.

We were given a privilege the next day and permitted to park at the door, a shuffle to our usual wait amongst those sad faces that became so familiar.  The staff rather took to mum and always made sure that she did not have a long wait, but some of the faces did become rather too familiar.  There was always one woman there, looking very sad who came every day with an old man.  She sat there, not saying very much, just looking as though she’d rather not remember.  We spoke of her during that week, as there was something about the face that made her remarkable and wondered about her sad story, as it seemed she was very ill.  The rest were a mix, some looking as though they would not make the day and others just starting as we had the week before.  So the zap and the radiographer agreeing that they would have tea at Kapulsky’s after the treatment was over and home again to rest as my daughter was expected to take her turn in the rotation of care.  I had agreed to stay one extra week for completion of the treatment to spare her those awful morning escapades up the motorway, watching those sad faces in the waiting room and seeing the daily zap, with mum struggling onto that table.  It wasn’t easy that day, but we got by to sleep the afternoon away after a little lunch forced down.  He had stocked the bedside cupboard in my room with pain maintaining drugs for use at the final stages.  Knowledge of its contents disturbed me as it enlarged the photo-image of a future unwanted.

Wednesday evening was lesson time.  I remember it almost most of all.  Mum, dad and I in the kitchen, mum sitting beside the table, with her cigarette, wearing the blue dressing gown that used to be mine but traveled with her when she emigrated as she found it so cosy.  Her lips were red with her usual lipstick in expectation of my daughter’s arrival; she wanted to look good for her.  Dad standing at the work counter and mum and I explaining the ins and outs of soup making so that he could take care of himself once she had left.  This is celery, see the shape, the colour, the little leaves on top; that’s a leek round and long in layers, a carrot of orange, a bag of green split peas, cube of stock, parsley like on the chopped herring at Pesach, water boiled in the kettle.  The chopping board he knew from washing it so often, the knife he’d sharpened on his stone, and so he engineered the slices, not too thick, a little too slim, quite that size, a large pot on the boil, so easy he wrote in his book, drawing the leaves lest he should forget.  Mum and I smiled so as he paid careful attention, like never before as we three shared a moment to stay forever pressed in my head.

She told me that night what it would feel like when she died, the pain of the loss of a mother she said would last forever, but lighten in twenty years when maybe a day would pass without a thought of her.  My privilege to spend this time with her having my first and last lesson on life and death, love and departure, funeral styles in boxes or shrouds, packing and picking, storing this time forever.  She helped them all, those who were there, one by one she spoke in private to say good bye, and those who were not, on the phone she comforted them in the knowledge of her death.  Each and every one has a memory of her and her wisdom and her ability to provide bereavement counseling to those she most loved and cherished for her own death before she died.  I asked her whether she was afraid and she was not, quite accepting that the route of life had a direction unquestioned, almost as though she knew exactly where she was going without a map.  I realized my privilege was greater than any I had known to have her as my mother, my teacher and my friend.

So they arrived, he and my daughter, to find us soup and all smiling in adversity, a bag of favourite things to entice her to eat, kippers, bacon, all the stuff that she loved to eat, a scarf to keep her warm and whatever else would help to prolong the end and make those last times more endurable.  A chip off the old block we grinned as she unpacked that bag of favourite things.  It was not easy for a grandchild to find what in only some days we had all become used to just a little.  The red camouflage did not really hide the weight loss nor the shrinking soul.  She chatted away with drooping eyes, tired from the day, the emotions and the zaps taking their toll on her lungs.

Last zap day, Thursday, arrived in a struggle when I found her on the loo, unable to get off, no energy or maybe even interest, the medication having started the night before.  I called him in a panic, what to do.  Stay calm; get her off the loo, in a bath then off for the zap.  We struggled she and I that day to get her to move, drugged or disinterested, but I got her dressed and we made our way for the last time down the motorway, parked at the front door, porter alarmed at our lack of care for his problem, she shuffled slowly on my arm, not in the front entrance but down the staff corridor to wait on the bench, unseen by any others to wheeze and breathe through the fluid that was filling her lungs.  I learned that day what I never knew.  This practical no frills lady was a real lady who cared so much at the indignity of the procedure of death.  She wore her scarf against the wind like every other day, her coat buttoned up and the red lips painted as usual, the only makeup ever to be found on her being, still there as always, leaning on me on the bench the two of us waited for that last zap.  I searched for the doctor, what could he do, but he hid away in the knowledge that he was unable to face death so bravely as she.  He looked past my eyes as he gave me a list of powders to buy for that fluid he said to take it away.  I drove into town with the pressure behind my eyes so strong to run down my cheeks as I got that powder to take her home for lunch and rest.  I remember most clearly the steamed fish and potatoes small on a large plate that I forced her to eat to keep her promise of food for no pain, but the pain was there and wouldn’t go away and spewed the food onto the carpet as she lay down to sleep on the couch as her granddaughter cleaned it all up, crying.

That night was a concert in Jerusalem that we went to in memory of the shooting that took place on 6th November and I cried through it and couldn’t wait to get home where my daughter had stayed with her, giving her a last smoke of pleasure hiding the pack with its ashtray in the pocket of her coat.  A lousy concert all round.  She had slept the evening with not much chat about anything when I came back to give her a tablet, a drink and move her around to relieve the pain in her leg.  Heavy hearts went to sleep that night ill contented, unrested when pitter-patter my dad who had found her sitting on the edge of the bed unable to move woke me before dawn.  I remember standing on the bed and tugging her underarms to bring her back onto the pillows to rest and lie still until the sun came up to make that call.  I didn’t call him to decide her fate, but Dr GP was forced to come at six not ten as he had wished, as I needed him to come at that time.  Quite shocked he looked at her, so fast since Tuesday when she had reigned at her table de haute laughing at us all being there enjoying her food.  He hadn’t wanted the tomato we thought he’d asked for, just a thermometer to test her heat.  When they came with a blue light, she left her handbag at home and went with my daughter to prepare her departure, a half smile on her face as she told the medic what a beautiful girl she was, my child who was there with her in that van holding her hand, no handbag.  No handbag, it struck me she wasn’t coming back, she’d never done that before, left it behind, gamma’s handbag with stuff for all occasions, plasters for grazed knees, pins for fallen hems, boilings for dry throats, fags of course, a tissue or two, scissors and tape, something for all, she had left it behind.

Tramp who had slept at her feet was left with the young girl who arrived that morning to clean, tears in her eyes as I left with dad to drive to the hospital where a reception committee had been arranged to take care of her.  My cousin was there who had buried her father only one week before, she’d heard and arrived to be with us as the nurses and doctors did their bits and pieces before sending her up to the ward.  No coffee I said with authority, how stupid to deny her her last coffee forever as I took off her chains and watch and rings and stowed them away on my arms and hands. Needles and tubes and masks were wheeled on the trolley with my mum at the helm, quite relaxed at last having left her handbag behind.  And so our vigil began, phone calls to tell them all what was happening, to get our remaining sibling on a plane, to find him somewhere in London as she waited to offer him her last smile.  And I watched her that day as she looked at me with questioning eyes, uncomfortable and in pain.  I could see her mouth moving round and round beneath the mask, eyes staring at me until I moved in close and saw the inaudible help me, as she tugged at the drip and flailed around.  I told her I would, but she must lie still, as I left to get help.  No more they said go home, leave her in peace to rest, too many people about.  It made me so mad.  We know you know, we know it all, so don’t concern yourselves with a pitiful family, just tidy her up, lay her at peace in warmth with tender care and dignity so she can be with us until her last breath in love, surrounded by all to hold her hand and ease her path away.

And so we stroked and cajoled through the night, my Dad not accepting, all the girls there, Lara, Ruth, Joy with Yossi and Yair, Dad and me and David and Shirley and Norman who arrived in the early hours of the morning but didn’t see her last smile for him as he turned the corner in the room when she sighed and finally closed her eyes to sleep in peace, having willed them open the whole night until he came.  Through the night we stayed until at dawn they came Chaim and Zvia, Alice and Issy, Merle to help us through this time.  I will always remember their quiet strength just being there saying little, but strong in their presence as we waited and waited for that last breath to pass when we, one by one kissed her good bye gently.  Lara showed me how, as I was so frightened when she told me to kiss gamma and I did and I am pleased to have been able to say this last ‘bye ‘bye to my mum.

He wanted to stay and hold her hand forever, but I whisked my dad away down that corridor back to his home to save him the sight of the final preparation, to get him to rest in a familiar place.  It was quiet and chilly as I found her bed, mattress exposed, sheets folded away, pillows stripped.  That bare bed a shock like cold water on a snowy day poured on your head.  In haste I made that bed and replaced its cover to give it a semblance of warmth, to spare my dad and all that shock.  So the night was long, as they all knew what to do.  Call the paper to make the announcement, grape vine at the ready, have notices printed and pinned to trees and buildings in places where people knew her, an every day routine for those involved in the business of death.  Next day it would be at 2.00 o’clock, the longest morning in waiting for that time to come.  Lara and I paced and then went out to Ora, to tell her the news and we all three cried together whilst she washed my hair, nothing else to do.  Lara said that gamma would want me to look my best as we wiped our tears and went back to the flat.  Mark had arrived by that time from up north upset that he had not known of the hasty deterioration as we drove to the cemetery in convoy.  No parking for so many cars, I recalled her saying not many would come.  Not a space to be found, the crowd so large it warmed my heart, as I did not know this would happen.  I seemed fine until the corner of my eye caught the trolley being bumped down the path with a shrouded shape on it that came into focus as I lost my breath and gasped a cry out loud, turning my head away to take a grip of my being as I realized this was my mum, her last ride a bit bumpy on that trolley.  I wore her best embroidered shirt to the funeral that they snipped at the lapel, still hanging in my cupboard.  I knew she’d want me to have this on to say my good bye, her on my skin so to speak.

We made our way slowly to the grave, prayers all the way.  I didn’t see the faces, but mounds of heads drawn on the landscape as the Rabbi jumped into the hole to ease her head gently onto the ground, slowly until her whole body lay there at the bottom of that pit waiting to leave.  Jackie was there to say our prayers, Jackie from childhood taking charge of the spade and soil he let me do my bit too even though I ought not to have done.  Grim faces all around shaking my hand, kissing my cheek saying sorry, so quick, they didn’t know how sad.  One memory of brown suede hugging me strongly, silently and unexpectedly, a voice that had comforted me through the weeks past each day on the phone, an almost stranger helping me through this time I shall never forget as we walked away from the grave that smell of suede there forever mixed with the soil and salty tears.

Not overtly religious, but my dad chose to have a proper shiva, mirrors turned to the wall, same clothes each day no razor, seven days together, people coming all the time to share our grief.  So many people who told me what a wonderful lady had left us behind, I didn’t know, I really didn’t know how many friends she had, I thought she was always alone, a childish orphan.  I heard stories that week some new, some old from days gone by in my childhood as friends from before came by.  They brought cakes and food to sustain us through this time together with their will of thoughts.  Seven days, hundreds of people all the time, no time to think in detail the consequences of the death of a mother, a real mother who mothered us all to the very end in wisdom and kindness and love and care.  We sat one night making an unconscious circle in the lounge with our chairs telling stories of times gone by.  There was me and David and Norman, dad with Ruth, Lara, Mark, Joy and Yossi, Yair and Jackie and Riva of course amongst others I cannot recall.  Some remembered her, the driver to camp and back bringing food and drink, sixteen guys to her car with me on the floor, weight so low on the chassis lest a child be left behind, wonderful memories of those days when she mothered us all.  Seven days to share and grieve and remember.

So many people came that it is hard to remember who they all were.  One of Lara’s friends arrived one day who had married on the kibbutz where they had met during her gap year in Israel.  She brought with her the photo album of her wedding and paging through it there she was, the woman with the sad face who sat each day with the old man in the waiting room.  I started to call out and realized that mum was not there to tell that this woman was the house mother on the kibbutz where Lara had stayed a few years before and had taken Lara to hospital to care for her knee injured in the car crash on the way from the airport.   The first instance of realization that my reference was gone, she’d never again share a moment with me and the aloneness wrapped my soul.

We all suffered her loss most deeply, but my dad of course was really worst off.  His life would change inexorably, alone with his dog.  I look around to find a way back to the days when a mother’s love was taken for granted.  No movies, no book nor person, seemed to have really prepared me for what it would be like to be without her.  She had counseled me of course and said, but I did not actually know until it happened.  I spoke and read and could never find exactly the comfort zone of this loss to this very day, she was right to say how long it would last this feeling of sterile emptiness, now made worse as dad too has died.  His continued life had given me strength to give back to him the will to live on in pride and dignity on his own with his dog.  I had always thought that I would die the day he died, but the call to his deathbed seemed to find me prepared, a little experienced in matters of death.  I found him in hospital all tubed up and drugged, a little high trying to work on his valve whilst he waited to go forever not to come back.  He could not speak with the tubes so he wrote little notes.  I transcribed them to my cousin in Transcriptions from a deathbed.

Jonathan was there this time to be with his granddad and me as he hadn’t been when his gamma died.  He was quiet during the drive back from the hospital when it was all over deep in thought.  He read what he wrote then at the funeral and made us all cry that a man could evoke such strength in a child, no young man now.

I went with my brother David to identify his body before the burial.  It seemed to get to him as he had done it for mum alone so I said I would go.  It was a magical moment to see my dad lying there like a king, his strong profile visible as a permanent picture branded on my brain.  I cannot recall mum’s face like that – I keep seeing her eyes staring and her mouth going round and round and round underneath the mask.

Many people came during the week that followed, those seven days at my brother’s house this time as there were no parents left to sit with us, people from a hazy past whom I grew up with and who knew me then, Jackie leading the prayers of course.  One lady brought back a bag that mum had made, a most beautiful petit point evening bag and given to her when she was a young mum many years ago.  She’d kept it wrapped all this time, beautiful and cared for and thought I should now have it in memory.  Its in my drawer now still packed away.  They read and reread the eulogy wiping away a tear as it was passed around those seven days, like he was with us.

They’re both gone now and I feel so alone surrounded by my family whom I love and love me back, but they’re gone forever and I cannot find my reference point.  Sometimes I talk with my brother David, but Norman does not like such chat.  He has his own way to deal with it, but today he mentioned suddenly that he cried in his sleep last night at her loss.  Lara and I and Jonathan and I talk quite a lot and sometimes, Klaff (as I call him) and I talk with positive memories of my privilege to have had my parents to love me and teach me with principled insight, always doing their best even if not always right about a choice or two, of my children having such grandparents and Klaff having uniquely had such loving in-laws.  Not perfect exactly, but honorable, honest people who gave more than they took from life.  I miss them more than I can say, but she told me so, she counseled me that it would be that way when she left me behind.  I sometimes read the letters that people took the care to write and that I keep treasured away and its warming to know that they cared enough to send their thoughts.  Its given me a different perspective of death and now I approach others who suffer such loss rather than shy away lest I intrude on their grief.

I like to go to the cemetery when I can as it gives me comfort and warmth, a celebration of their lives rather than just a plot with stones, allowing me time to ruminate and remember.  Last time I sobbed there uncontrollably as we’d fought our way through the streets, it was my first real cry since it started.  Their home is gone now, stuff dispersed amongst the family.  It was hard to pack mum’s things quietly alone at night in the dark so that dad wouldn’t notice, twelve orange bags of life waiting in the dark side of the room to go and then gone forever.  When we cleared the flat I went with my brothers and I found it to be a kind of a bonding experience as we paged through the books and coughed as the dust flew out.  I found dad’s Golden Treasury from his youth with a list of girl’s names written at the back.  He’d been young too, once.  I have some of his books on my shelf that I treasure and the clock is mine, the one that hung in the hallway of our house that we grew up in on the common wall with my bedroom and I still hear it sometimes in the depth of a night the “boing” of time as it ticked away my youth.  I’m pleased that its mine as it reminds me always of being little and loved and cherished and being the one who ran after shouting, “wait for me”!!!

SDK 9.4.01

Iranian military activity in southern Syria under-reported by BBC

Originally posted on BBC Watch:

Those who read the BBC Monitoring article about Saudi Arabian concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 6th (discussed here) may have noticed the following short passage:Metcalf art

“Iranian forces are reported to have played a large role, alongside Hezbollah and government troops, in a recent offensive against rebels in southern Syria, close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Iran admitted in January that a general in the Revolutionary Guard had been killed in an Israeli air strike in the area.”

Beyond those few words, the BBC has not reported on Iranian military activities in southern Syria. In its article on the January 18th incident mentioned above, the BBC’s answer to the key question of what a convoy of Hizballah operatives and Iranian Revolutionary Guards were doing near the border with Israel on the Syrian side of the…

View original 660 more words

Light and Dark

I finally got round to watching The Eichmann Story and still my stomach is churning this morning and my head is pounding with questions and I ask why, and why again and again, to no response.

I recall Haussmann questioning and Eichmann denying as that trial set the curse of my life, a life trying to understand how and why and what for and …. So many questions unanswered. And I’ll continue banging on about it however much you harrumph and sigh and roll your eyes in boredom, until sense prevails, or my deathbed beckons, whichever comes sooner.

A world that watched and saw and vomited at the stench of it all not 70 years ago, makes docudramas to commemorate the most evil of evils the world has witnessed, at the same time half-masts a flag to a dead tyrant in 2015 who has done most to reignite the ancient hatred of the Jews, whilst negotiating a settlement for a Nuclear armed Iran, that arch creator and supporter of terrorism that threatens the Jews as did Hitler. Imagine a world .. with a nuclear armed fascist enemy and discover how much more can be done now to eradicate Jews than the cattle trucks and gaseous showers and imagine – the skeletal bodies, nuclear charred, as you bulldoze the ditch to the full.

Shema Yisrael is older than the hills and reverberates into the future beyond any desire to eradicate its singers.

It’s not just in memory of the Shoah, but remembering the promise of Never Again.  It’s not about Charlie or Je Suis Juif, it’s about who we are and how we wish to take ourselves forward in a free world. It’s about remembering and understanding, about knowledge and how to acquire it.  Most of all it’s about the shining Light over the abyss of darkness. Simply it’s Good over Evil.

The Memorial Day Jester

Holocaust Memorial day, Thursday 27th January 2005, 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz.  In London a memorial service was attended by Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Philip, the Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Michael Howard amongst others.  Sixty survivors, one for each year since 1945, were guests at the Palace of Westminster.  Throughout the service Her Majesty sat obviously in deep thought, her face stern and eyes roving silently to gauge the scene.  The memorial candelabra, a modern intricate weave of metal, held 62 candles, each one lit by the Queen, Prince Philip and the 60 survivors respectively.  Throughout, several grandchildren of survivors read quietly and steadily the names of those who had perished.  Tony Blair made a speech, Mr Howard whose grandparents were exterminated at Auschwitz sat there in silence.  The Queen led the way out, her gaze fixed to the stony floor.

Of course the major world event was held at Auschwitz.  The setting was austere and sombre.  The most notorious railway track in the world was lit in two parallel lines by candles in memory of those who perished in history’s most evil record of man’s inhumanity to man.  Here 700 survivors, all now in their 70’s and 80’s, walked through the snow the quarter of a mile up the track, retracing their steps of all those years ago as young children making a journey into the unknown pits of hell.  How brave of them in the autumn of their lives to come back here again in the dark, in the bleakness of a cold winter’s night, to remember a time that forever fills the nightmares of their sleep.

Shivering, they took their places on the snow covered chairs, their only heat emanating from several huge wire-caged fires. For an hour they waited for the dignitaries to arrive so the service could begin, their jaws rattling as they shivered from the cold and the memories flooding back through the dark night air.  And then they arrived, the Presidents of Russia and France, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, the German Chancellor, the Queen’s son Prince Edward, Duke of Wessex, and the rest of them, mounting the heated platform opposite to take their places on the snow-protected seats reserved especially for them.

The whistle of The Train sounded, The Siren screeched and The Floodlights waved their beams across the bleak landscape.  Speeches from the President of Russia recounting how Russian troops had librated the camp, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine taking an oath that never again will such evil be tolerated in his land, never again repeated again and again whilst the 700 sat there silently perched on the cold snow-covered chairs, quivering in that freezing night, their frozen tears stuck to their cheeks, as the words never again reverberated over and over as if to make an indelible stamp on their forearms to cover the numbered tattoos that would forever remain.

Then the dignitaries departed, leaving the 700 to make their way back that quarter of a mile to the waiting buses that would spirit them to the warmth of their hotels.  A relief to realise that those barren huts with three tiered shelves packed nine by nine by nine with ice cold bodies trying in vain to be warmed by a single stove, that the ultimate heat of those burning ovens, could no longer be their destination.

The next day, reports in the press described this event with pride in the success of remembering for posterity those iniquitous times that must never happen again.

Never again reverberated, never again and again and again, the irony escaping them of a scene where once again, after sixty years, those 700 survivors in the Autumn of their lives, carrying half a century’s baggage, stuffed with putrefied evil, that quarter of a mile up those railway tracks of their very worst memories, to sit in the cold on the snow covered chairs, waiting an hour for the VIP’s to arrive cosseted in warmth and security with an air that reeked of their superior status in the nature of things, leaving without a thought that their memorial service depicted a scene of the jester laughing in the creased up faces stuck with icicled tears of the very survivors who were the reason for their presence.

SDK 30th January 2005

The Half-Mooned Star

My tears run freely down my cheeks,
staining the pores of my soul
and the cry from the depths of my being,
almost 6 thousand years old,
echoes in the shadows of the valley of death,
as rivers of blood flood the hearts of a world
silent and blinded by the sword of death,
slicing its way across the Levant
to crucify the Holy Land under the half mooned star.

My right to exist

You took a Jew, by all accounts a good Jew, made him your God based on our bible and our Ten Commandments then proceeded to blame us for his death to perpetuate the notion that our very existence is open to debate. Well take note that we’ve been around a long time and intend to keep it that way:


I have lived amongst you,
all three Gemini’s and I,
six of us in all plus one,
back to before it was then
that the tablets of my soul
dissolved in your
river of blood;

I have learned to know you,
my three twins and I,
each one of us confused
in our knowledge, leaving
little to reveal of you
that shows the inside
turning out;

You dined well at my table,
you twelve men and him,
sipping the fruits of my vine
as you leaned to the left,
your right hand feeding
the crowds from my plate
through the night;

You painted a vilified vision
of me and my guests
on the wall of your dome,
crusading your version
to the east and the west,
passing over my door with the
angel of death;

You hijacked the ancient gift
that was mine to share
and I watched as I moved
from here to there leaving
behind the roots of my
family tree in your
foreign land;

I have turned my cheek from you
as I pass through your space
with my twins in tow,
my ashes scattered round
the shrubs of your land,
a beauty too modest to
earn your respect;

You closed your heart to my fears,
palms cupped round your eyes
as you recited out loud my
poem to your friends,
veiled as your own creation,
your choir singing that tune
of Halleluiah;

I have listened to your chorus
peeling my father’s tongue
through the darkest valley
in the shadow of death,
denying my passage as
I travel en route to my
rightful home;

I have existed as I am,
all my Zodiacs and I,
back to before it was then,
that the notion you assumed
yours to bestow upon me,
the inalienable right
that is mine.

The summer of 5775

It’s the middle of the night and I sit here thinking on the state of Jews and the Jewish state, ahead of Yom Kippur in the year 5775. Seems to me that the Jewish state did a great job over the summer in protecting her citizens, but the state of the Jews is fractious. It seems the summer romance is dying as the rockets cease.

Some eleven or twelve years ago I lay in bed ill reading the JC on which front page appeared a rift in the Leeds Jewish community, whilst two London communities were trying to fire their Rabbis and all this as the second Intefada was erupting in Israel, in the face of a world increasingly antagonistic to Israel. I wrote in the JC then that it pained me to see Jews fighting amongst themselves whilst the greater world was conspiring to extinguish the Jewish state. As a result my rabbi who was one the two under threat in London, braced himself and stood his ground as our teacher and our guide and he remained in office for a further decade.

I now find myself again having to write to my fellow Jews, asking what sense can be made of all this in-fighting. What is to be gained from degrading ourselves into the a image of our enemies? Why is there a need for the egos of individuals to override the good, not only of the Jewish community, but of the greater world. For, should we forget our message, our enemies will succeed in eradicating not only Israel, not only us Jews, but the very foundation of who we are as a western civilisation based in the Judeo-Christian value system.

So let us not only ask for forgiveness for our sins, but let us find it deep inside ourselves to forgive others their frailties and their transgressions. After all who are we to place judgement on others? If God can forgive and embrace, why cannot we mere mortals be in that image so the Light can shine within all of us?

The state of the Jews is dire. Replacement propaganda is thriving and denigrating our right to be a people, a nation with a state, a state that predates all others, a people no longer an orphan beholden to others for our being. As an ancient people who has faced and survived many attempts of genocide in the efforts of our enemies to eradicate us, the circle turned this summer. Once more we find ourselves under threat to the silence of a greater world, a silence backed by the ability of others to absorb delegitimisation propaganda as fact, to close their ears to the hate preachers who call for our expiration, to pretend it is not happening – again!

Our fate is in our own hands, in our ability to be cohesive, to be strong, to be single minded. Our destiny is clear and we must embrace that as one, put the pettifogging aside, dissipate our egos, refrain from judgement and join hands to make sure this summer romance will endure and blossom into a fruitful future for the Jewish state and for the state of the Jews.

Those of you with courage and with forgiveness in your hearts, please join us on this journey. We have a long way to travel.

I wish you all well over the fast. May our sins be forgiven as we forgive others.


we came to stand
with the lions
waving flags
as we roared
across the square
a single voice
of joined-up words
in translation:
‘Hear o Israel
The Lord our God
The Lord is One’

we came to express
with our friends
holding hands
as we cried
in that square
a single desire
of heartfelt hope
and yearning:
‘Hear o Israel
we stand as one
we stand for life’!

SDK 5th July 2002

movie-tone news

1. the movie-tone news rolls on
shining ratchet-framed prints
on my brain cells as I sleep,
flashing rapid flicks sharply
on my eyelids as I dream,
shooting silent snaps fiercely
on my midnight canvas screen

the celluloid reel goes on
flapping jagged edged snaps
in the silence of my night,
shredding jaded imprints harshly
in the pathway of my sight,
flipping slighted views falsely
in the album of my plight,

the bioscope scene stays on
flashing tattered-torn film snips
on the outlook of my choice
twisting age-old mores crudely
on the flip side of my coin
tossing natural beauty wildly
to the den of roaring lions

2. as that reel rolls on by
of the movie-tone news
violent nail-packed bombs
fire off two by two
to explode total myths
of peaceful debate
to end all the terror
to establish a state
that nobody sees
will never create
a balance of peoples
living side by side
in bliss and contentment
and mutual respect

3. in place of this deal
is a figment of hate
an excuse of those brutes
a tool to dictate
to some ignorant
masses how their
lives should be run
on this earth that we know
as solid and there
with the beauty of nature
for us all to share
in free will and free choice
to securely embrace
in the passage of time
‘till death do us part,
in a natural way.

SDK 15th January 2002