Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Palestinian Iftar

A few days ago, I was invited at an “iftar”.
An iftar is the meal that muslims have after fasting the whole day, during the month of Ramadan.
The guy is half Druze and half Christian. His wife is Muslim Palestinian. She comes from a very wealthy family, and has always lived between London and Lebanon.
During all the dinner, she insisted about all the dishes being purely Palestinian.
At a point of the conversations, she mentioned she took Hebrew courses. When asked why, she said that one must know the language of his enemies.
I wonder how the world could ever get better with people, so called educated, being so narrow minded and intolerant.
Why should I be tolerant enough to go to an iftar? Because after all, I respect any religion, as long as it worships the same G-od.

Our host continued judging the people who “don’t respect the fast of muslims by eating in front of them”.
It seems that in Saudi Arabia and other “fanatic” muslim countries, eating in public during the month of Ramadan is a sin, and one could get jailed for that.
So much for tolerance.
And then they wonder why in France they don’t allow young muslim girls to wear the hijab at school. They want to be intolerant at the max and expect to profit from the democracy of other countries to do what they will never accept from other religions in their countries.

Eating in front of a person who is fasting must not be a temptation. Women fast and prepare meals for the night. Although they are hungry too, they are not tempted.
Fasting is a personal choice. In other religions, people fast by conviction and not by force. We cannot force our beliefs on others.
I don’t think that at Kippur, in Israel, it is forbidden for people to eat in public at the risk of being jailed…
This is the big difference. Respect.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Renovating Magen Abraham...

News about rebuilding the Magen Abraham Synagogue are being spread.
I’m getting calls from friends in Europe informing me about the news.
It is already in newspapers here in Lebanon. Friday I read it in the French newspaper, L’Orient Le Jour.

Now that the Lebanese government has given its consent, and the Hezbollah has “agreed”, and that there is a beginning of a funding, the process of rebuilding of the Magen Abraham Synagogue has begun, and this might be as early as October.
The cost of the renovation is estimated at 1 million dollars. 40 000$ have already been collected. Apparently Solidere(the Lebanese joint-stock company in charge of planning and redeveloping Beirut central district), is going to fund some 100 000$ (as it has done to all the worship places that needed restoration).
It seems the Safra family (of Edmond Safra, National Bank of New York) is going to participate also, as well as 2 banks whose founders are Jews of Lebanese origins.

This is wonderful news. But I am really pessimistic about it…
If Hezbollah has given its ok, do they realize that Lebanese Jews might not be against Israel, like they want us to be? Can they tolerate that? Or would we be charged of treason?
Does any Jew feel safe enough in Lebanon to go and pray at the synagogue (would we find a rabbi?)? Would we live our Judaism in the open and therefore risk our life and the lives of our family because of some extremist groups like hezbollah or the PSNP (Syrian national socialist party) who are the equivalent of the nazis?

When, in 2006, the incidents of the caricatures of Mohammad occurred in Denmark, Muslims went into Christian resident areas in Beirut (Ashrafieh) and sabotaged homes, cars and burned down the embassy along with a few office buildings around it.
Can we afford taking the risk of living on the edge?
If anything happens in the world between Jews and Muslims or between Israel and other arab countries(which is frequent), will they take it out on the minority of Jews who dared come out of the dark?…
The answer is obvious.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Kosher list...

I have sent a link of a youtube video, taken from a fellow blogger, ( ), to many of my lebanese friends...
It's about boycotting Israeli products and inventions, which are countless...

"Propaganda!" said most of the people who have received it.
Only a few were impressed by all the Israeli and Jewish inventions.

As for me, I thank the anti Semitics that made a list of Israeli and Jewish products available to boycott… now I know I should only shop from it…

Friday, September 12, 2008

Homemade lebanese khallot

Baking challah fills home with a festive aroma, and making homemade khallot gives home an extra dose of spirit. here is my khallot.

( iknow i know, looks like a granny's blog... but i like it that way)

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

6 days a week blessings...

I was surfing on the internet when a brilliant idea came to me... why don't I check if I can download a Hebrew course application on my iphone...?
and while searching for that, I discovered that an application called iBlessing exists! and that i can have my own blessing phone with "Mode ani" and "shema" and a touch-to-choose the category of food for the blessing over food...

And don't you just love the add of this application:
Finally a religious device with buttons that doesn''t explode!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Community Of Magen Abraham

Magen-Abraham was the main and largest synagogue of the Jewish community of Beirut. It is the the only one of 18 city centre synagogues to be saved. The synagogue was inaugurated in 1926 after years of delay caused by the First World War.

The Magen-Abraham synagogue was considered as one of the fanciest in the whole
East. Its activity attracted many people for praying. A youth choir was founded,
and on Saturdays, hundreds of people came to hear the choir singing. In addition
to religious services, the synagogue was used for cultural and intellectual
activities, weddings, and other festive events. Twice a year, in Passover and
Sukkot, the heads of the religious communities in Lebanon were invited to join
the ceremony. During the 1940s, the synagogue was used as a center for
underground Zionist activities. Many of the illegal migrants who arrived in
Beirut on their way to Israel were put temporarily in the building. Youth and
little children were housed in the synagogue's compound before taken to Israel.
The vitality of the synagogue waned with the decline of the entire community. As
Jews left Lebanon (particularly after the Civil War in 1975) in increasing
numbers, it became harder to gather a minyan for prayer. In 1982, the synagogue
was plundered and later efforts of Lebanese Jews to renovate and preserve the
building were unsuccessful.

During the Lebanese civil war, the synagogue was looted and sacked by fighters and turned into a dispensary by the Amal militia. The Torah scrolls were transferred to Lebanese synagogues abroad. Now the roof has collapsed, the plants have completely taken over the site and the building is in desperate need of repair.
Since the end of the seventies, the community has not had a rabbi. There is no place to buy locally produced kosher. There are no Jewish schools to teach children prayer and Hebrew.

The flourishing community was of an estimated 14 000 (some even say 30 000), and it could trace its roots back to 1000BC. Today, it is estimated at less than a hundred. But then again it is almost impossible to know the true figures as it is impossible to identify its members. They keep their religious identity a secret and pass along as Christians or Muslims, for fear of persecutions from other sects, like the PSNP (Syrian national socialist party) or the Hezbollah, who openly wish to eradicate Zionism and Judaism.

The Jews are one of the 18 religious groups officially recognized in Lebanon. A 2004 report said one out of 5 000 Jewish Lebanese citizen registered to vote in municipal elections. Most of those registered are believed to be dead or to have fled the country.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

She Never Asked...

When Ariel (a good friend that I met through the internet) and I discovered we both had Iraqi origins, and that both our grandmothers were from Baghdad, we were astonished. I live in Lebanon, and he lives in Israel (virtually, a Jupiter and Mars distance) and our grandparents could’ve been neighbors!
Thanks to Ariel, I discovered that my favorite dish (a dish that no one in my circle of friends has ever heard of, made from Hallumi cheese and red lentils) is Iraqi and not Turkish, like my mother pretended.
I wonder if it was a deliberate attempt to muffle everything related to my grandmother’s origins…?

My mother doesn’t want to get into all of this. She will defend the Jews from all her heart, but for some reason, never felt attached to all this. As if the battle was never hers.
When I first started showing some interest for Judaism, we had strong clashes. We still have, especially on politics.
She never asked my grandmother questions about her origins or about Judaism. So today, when my grandmother was recounting to me how they used to buy kosher meat from a butcher in Beirut, and how they used to have Shabbat lunch altogether with her family even after she got married to my grandfather (who isn’t jewish), my mother discovered her early Jewish life. She used to eat only kosher meat, and she used to observe Shabbat!
“You never asked!” said my grandmother…

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Story From My Childhood

Here is a story that happened in 82:
A few weeks before the IDF entered Beirut, my grand father’s (mother’s side) house was attacked by a Palestinian gang. We never knew who spread the word about my grand mother, but somehow they knew she was Jewish.
We used to live in the building facing theirs.
I can never forget the screaming, both of my grand father and from the attackers.
They were shooting at the apartment from everywhere: the main door, from the street on the living room side and the street from the kitchen side.
If it hadn’t been for a well connected neighbor, my grand parents would have been dead.
Then a few weeks later Israeli soldiers were walking those same streets. I never really asked how they got to my grand mother, but they did and she told them what happened…
They gathered all the men of the neighborhood, made them stand in line and asked my grand father to identify the attackers. (because when the neighbor interfered, my grand father had the occasion to see their faces, and they were actually adolescent/young men, most of them the neighborhood kids)
I was too young to understand the situation, but I remember my mother explaining to me that the bad guys are being caught. Those soldiers were my heroes.
My grand mother didn’t want anything bad to happen to the “kids”, and forgave them. Maybe she was thinking that from there on she was going to be safe.
She still lives in that same apartment.

Pleading For My Land

For those of you who never read or heard it-because it was in french- here is a "poem" of Herbert Pagani. I translated it -as good as i know how.
Just Wonderful.

11th of November 1975

Yesterday I was in the subway when I heard two ladies say :
“Did you see those Jews with their stories at the UN, those trouble-makers!”

It’s true.
We are trouble-makers.
It’s been centuries that we’ve been harassing the world… It’s in our nature!
Abraham with his unique G’od,
Moses with his Tables Of The Law,
Jesus with his other cheek, always ready for the other slap.
Then Freud, Marx, Einstein,
they were all annoyers, revolutionists, enemies of the Order.


Because no Order, whatever the century, could satisfy them,
given that they were always excluded from it.

To reassess, to see ahead,
change the world to change destiny,
this was the fate of my Ancestors.
This is the reason why all supporters of all implemented orders hate them.

The anti-Semite of the right blames the Jews to have provoked the bolchevist revolution,
It’s true. There were a lot, back in 1917.
The anti-Semite of the left blames the Jews of being the owners of Manhattan.
It’s true, there is a lot of Jewish capitalists.

The reason is simple:
Religion, culture, and the revolutionary ideal from one side,
wallets and banks on the other side,
are the only transportable valuables, the only homeland to those who don’t have a homeland.

And now, that it exists,
the anti-Semitism is being reborn from its ashes
–sorry! From our ashes-
and it is called anti-Zionism.
It was applied to individuals, now it applies to a nation.

Israel is a ghetto, and Jerusalem is Warsaw

…the Nazis who besiege us talk Arabic
And if their sickle is disguised in a crescent,
it’s to better trick the Left, all around the world.

I, a Jewish left-winger, don’t give a damn about a left
that wants to liberate men at the expense of other men,
because I am precisely of those.

All right for class war,
but I’m also for the right of being different.
If the left wants to include me in, it can’t ignore my problem.

And my problem is that since the roman deportations,
in the 1st century after Jesus Christ,
we have been, everywhere, cursed, banished, stalked, betrayed, denounced, crushed, despoiled, burnt and converted by force.


Because our religion,
which is our culture was dangerous.
Yes, dangerous!

A few examples…

Judaism was the first to establish Shabbat, day of the Lord, an obligatory, weekly day of rest.
Imagine the “joy” of the pharaohs, always a pyramid too late!

Judaism forbade slavery.
Can you imagine the reaction of the Romans,
antiquity’s most important wholesalers of free working force!

It is written in the Bible: “Land doesn’t belong to men, it belongs to G’od”
From this results the law of the land which automatically reassesses the ownership of the land every 49 years.
Can you imagine the effect of such a law on the popes of the Middle Ages and the empire-builders of the Renaissance!

It was important that people didn’t know…

So they began by forbidding the Bible,
then there were the disparagements,
walls of calumny that became walls of stones, and that they called ghettos.
Then there was the Inquisition, the pyres, and later the yellow stars.
Auschwitz is only an industrial example of the genocide, but there were thousands other handcrafted genocides.
I could spend three days only naming the Spanish, Russian, polish and North African pogroms.

Fleeing, running away, moving, the Jew has been everywhere… and he is from nowhere.

We are amongst the countries, like a child in public assistance:
I don’t want to be adopted anymore.
I don’t want my life to depend on my owner’s moods.
I don’t want to be a citizen-tenant.
I’ve had enough of knocking on History’s doors and to await the “come in”.
I’m Coming in and I’m yelling!
I’m home on earth and on earth I have my land.
It has been promised to me, and the promise will be kept.

What is Zionism ?

It can be defined in one simple sentence:

“Next Year Jerusalem”

No, it is not a Club-Med motto.
It is written in the Bible.
The best selling and the most wrongly read book in the world.
And this prayer became a scream, a cry of 2000 years,
And the father of Christopher Colombus,
Of Kafka,
Of Proust,
Of Chagall,
Of Marx,
Of Einstein,
and even Of Mr Kissinger,
repeated this phrase, this cry, at least once a year, at Pessah.

So is Zionism racism?
Make me laugh!
Is “sweet France, dear country of my childhood” a racist anthem?

Zionism is the name of a liberation combat.

Each one has got his “Jews” in this world:
The French have the Bretons, the Occitans, the Corsicans, the immigrant workers.
The Italians have their Sicilians,
The Yankees, their blacks,
The Spanish, their Basques.

Us, we are the Jews of ALL

And to those who’ll tell me: « but the palestinians ? »
I say” “I’m a Palestinian of 2000 years.
I’m the oldest oppressed of the world”

I’ll debate with them but I will never give up my place.
There is space for two people and two nations.
The borders must be defined together.
But the existence of one country can’t by any means exclude the existence of the other,
and the political options of a government have never reassessed the existence of any nation.

So why Israel ?

When Israel will be out of danger,
I will choose amongst the Jews and my arab neighbors, who is my brothers-in-thoughts.

Today, I am united with all my alike, even with those I hate, against this big insurmountable enemy: RACISM

Descartes was wrong:
“I think therefore I am” means nothing.
It has been 5000 years that we have been thinking and we still don’t exist.

“I fight therefore I am”

Herbert Pagani