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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crazy Cell-Phone Plans



Towards the end of any month ( like around now) people who call up our family on our cell-phones are likely to get confused.

“Oh Sorry I thought I’d called someone else I must have dialed the wrong number”

“No its Ok you probably want my Dad but he didn’t talk enough on his phone this month so he gave me his cell-phone to use for outgoing calls for the next couple of days”



or alternatively

“Hi Esther “

“No it’s not Esther it’s her Mum . She’s got my phone . She’s in the middle of a looooong conversation with her friend so she’s using up my unused minutes. But I needed to make a quick call so I’ve got hers”


Confusing ? It’s quite simple really.

We are on a special cheap cell- phone plan. But like so many things – it has its  drawbacks.

If  you don’t talk for enough minutes each month then you  lose your special cheap-rate and a penalty is added on.

Sounds a bit crazy? Or maybe you have a similar scheme?


If we’re really desperate then my husband has been known to call my phone, I answer and we just leave the phones talking to each other for half an hour to use up those precious minutes

Fortunately we still have one teenage daughter still living at home – and if, like Benjamin Franklin, you thought there were only two sure things in life: death and taxes  - then I can add a third to the list …… teenage girls talking on the telephone.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Judaism at the Israel Museum


Last week I  visited the newly  upgraded / rebuilt/ renovated  Israel Museum in Jerusalem. I hadn’t seen it since it reopened in the summer after its multi million dollar face-lift, and as I often write about sites to visit in Jerusalem I know  that this museum is world famous and one of the most popular sites for tourists in Israel.

It’s collection of ancient archaeological  artifacts is, as always,  truly impressive and extensive – monuments to dead dynasties,  obsolete civilizations, and  lifeless lifestyles.

But  surprisingly, as  I walked through the Jewish Life exhibition, I  found myself picking up my pace – walking past the glass cases of prayer books and  Torah scrolls,  past the models dressed in ‘Jewish clothing  of the past “ and past the glass cases and films of ancient jewelry and  ancient Sephardic pre wedding customs.
I  was trying to think,  why wasn’t I so interested in these things? Why was I spending so little time here?
And then I realized.
It wasn’t particularly  exciting because it wasn’t unusual. Most of what I was looking at  were the same  things that I  see and even use  in everyday life. The exhibition cases had samples of silver – covered siddurim, similar to those I see often  in the shops and buy as presents. The examples of  clothes that Jews ‘used to wear’ are in fact often seen on the streets of Jerusalem, Golders Green and Borough Park  today. The intricate Yemenite bridal  jewelry and headdress of the past are  used by many  young Yemenite brides today who keep up  their ancient traditions .
The Sifrei Toah that we read from, photographs of a  mitzvah- tanz  (dance) at the end of a Chassidic wedding, silver, chanukiyot  and Seder plates for Pesach – all items, symbols and customs which are in regular  use  today in the 21st century.
I glanced up at the screen displaying a  film explaining how matzo is made  knowing that thousands of  children watch  this happen in real life in Jewish centers all over the world during  the weeks before Pesach.

And yet there were many visitors taking their time and reading all the attached notes about each exhibit – some I’m sure thinking that they were looking at a lost world of the past.
It was said that Hitler ( may his name be blotted out) kept many Jewish items, stolen from homes he had plundered and Jews he had slaughtered,  intending to set up a Museum to the lost religion of Judaism after the war.

But thank G’d Judaism is very much alive and flourishing all over the world . 

For those who have no idea what Judaism is all about, this Museum has much of interest. But fortunately  this isn’t in order to display a lost world of   ancient rituals and customs. For these very same rituals, customs, treasured books and  objects are still in constant use in our homes, within our families .
A Museum is, by dictionary  definition, a place or building where objects of historical interest are exhibited, preserved, or studied –

I’m very happy that  my Judaism  is  alive and well at home.  

Israel Museum Shrine of the Book Ann Goldberg

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I was just awarded  the “Laid Back Literary Ladies” award, by my  fellow blogger Rosalind Adam.


What exactly have I done to deserve the award, I can hear you all asking ………( well there must be someone out there who is asking)

Absolutely nothing . Ros is just a kind friend from way back when.

The funny thing is  Ros, that you probably don’t even realize how ‘appropriate ‘ the description is. People have been known to say of me that I’m so laid back ,I’m almost on the floor ……….what we English usually call a backhanded compliment.

it’s usually said in the same tone as a friend of mine who came to visit many yeas ago when I had a house full of little children – and I much preferred to write rather than do housework (some things never change.)

Businesswoman Working in a Messy Office clipart

She looked around my ‘busy’ ( as in totally chaotic) living room and said the famous words………………….. “Ann you are my role model. I don’t know how anyone can live in this mess and not let it bother them…………..”

Here’s to  many more  Laid-back- Literary –Ladies  and thanks again Ros, for the award.

Friday, December 10, 2010



We’re  “battening down the hatches”  for the  expected torrential rain and storms the weather forecasters have promised us……….

Well they think they have promised us …. but over here in Israel we know that rain is not dependent on meteorological and natural elements - but on our relationship with One Above .

It’s difficult for those of  you in Europe and the USA to imagine longing for rain – you get it in plentiful supply and maybe you think even  over-supply.

When I lived in England it used to rain about 350 days of the year – but not over here.

Our summers have been getting hotter and longer, our aquifers depleted and never refilled during the long ,dry winters we’ve been having.

We’ve instituted special prayers for rain and have already had two days of fasting.

Our first rain started falling on Monday


…..and now we’re looking forward  Please G’d to several days of  real storms.


Our parched and burnt  land, our rivers and streams , our crops and our farmers and all of us young and old who need this life giving force are very grateful to the Supplier Above .

Wednesday, December 1, 2010



Departure lounge at Ben Gurion aiport, Israel

I can’t help it, the  only airport I feel really safe in is Ben Gurion in Israel.

I know I have to arrive earlier there than at any other airport in the world.   I know by heart  all the questions I’ll be asked. But I also  know that everything connected to security is ‘tachlis’, to the point and relevant with no nonsense of political correctness.

They don’t care about a baby’s bottle of milk or the coke I’m drinking – it’s me and the other passengers they are looking at. Do we look and  act like  possible terrorists.

“How many children do you have” they once asked me.

“Seven” I replied.

“What are your their names?”

I could have said any names I liked as they aren’t listed in my passport – but that didn’t bother them. They just wanted to see that I didn’t hesitate when answering.

But in general I’m usually let through quite quickly. I don’t fit the profile of a terrorist . I’m not the one they’re looking for. Others don’t get off so lightly.

airport traveler

I  wouldn’t like to be traveling in the US over the Xmas holidays. The airport staff are all already stressed out and scared. Even after their horrific experience of 9/11 they are  forbidden to  ‘profile’ passengers but can only subject everyone to the same  stupid scrutiny and irrelevant checks – despite their better judgment.

They will confiscate your hair mousse if the container is a few grams over the permitted amount. They’ll make you remove your baby’s bottle and drink the milk to prove it’s not poisonous. They will make you take off your shoes,  subject you to body scans and pat-downs that anger many travelers. But they will never question you because you look  Middle Eastern,  nervous  and frightened and keep looking over your shoulder. That’s not allowed.

luggage carousel

And  unfortunately the sad fact is that even if G’d forbid there should be another airline disaster, I doubt if it will change the methods employed at US and European airports. Politics seems to me more important than safety and security.

I remember when my nephew was hounded by our security personnel at the airport . It was nerve wracking for him  and very amusing for us when we heard about it later. But the fact remains that  our security guys  did  a tremendous   job and because of them I feel safe and secure in  our airport – but not unfortunately in any other.

Whenever I’m abroad , it’s such a relief to get back home safely.

Ben Gurion airport arrival lounge. Luggage carousel

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Those of you old enough to remember the 1970s – 80s may well  recall the plight of the Jews in the Soviet Union, whose pride in their religion and homeland was awakened after the 6 Day War and  who applied to emigrate to Israel.

Their request was refused ( hence their name Refusenicks) and they immediately lost their jobs ad were never able to get  comparable employment. They  were lucky if they were able to find some menial work,to avoid being labeled a ‘parasite’ by the government and imprisoned or sent to Siberia.

Jobless and incomeless their condition was desperate and much of the money which was sent from abroad to try and help them was confiscated before it ever reached them.

Those of us who grew up in Britain and the USA during those years remember the organisations which were formed to try and help Soviet Jewry and the demonstrations and hunger strikes outside the Soviet Embassies around the world.

1974: Rallying outside the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, in New York City.1974 New York Rally outside the Soviet Mission to the United Nations

I couldn’t help thinking of this as I watched the video below of the IDF Band, performing in Red Square in Moscow, underneath a  large flag of  Israel.

Thank  G’d times  have changed – and in some ways for the better.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010


As a teacher  I have been worried, horrified is more the word, by the rapidly growing number of  students/ pupils labeled ADD and ADHD.

Why so many? Why so many more nowadays?

I work with people of all ages from 8 – 28, but the vast majority of those with ADD are  aged between 8 – 15 years.

In every branch of society there are children who suffer from the chemical imbalance which causes  ADD and ADHD, but I wondered whether there was another form of ADD which is caused, not  by a chemical imbalance, but by the environment in which a child grows.

I work with non-religious, religious and ultra orthodox children and ADD is much more prevalent amongst the non-religious and religious population  than with the ultra-orthodox. This led me to wonder what was specifically  different  about the home life of the ultra orthodox and the BIG answer is television, or rather the lack of it.

I have always thought that a child who sits passively  glued to a flickering moving screen for hours on end, from an early age, cannot remain unaffected. Their brains, minds, ability to interact with other children, play  games, read and write are all affected by this  ‘mindless babysitter’

I’m not alone in my feelings. The magazine PEDIATRICS reported on a study conducted so see if there was a link between television and ADD and found that:

The study revealed that each hour of television watched per day at ages 1-3 increases the risk of attention problems, such as ADHD, by almost 10 percent at age 7. The study controls for other attributes of the home environment including cognitive stimulation and emotional support.

The findings also suggest that preventive action can be taken to minimize the risk of attention problems in children. Limiting young children’s exposure to television during the formative years of brain development, consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations, may reduce a child’s subsequent risk of developing ADHD. The AAP recommends parents avoid letting their children under the age of 2 years watch television.

ADD/ ADHD can’t be cured, only controlled, if you find the right help for your child.

And for those who suffer from ADD and ADHD, whatever the reason, our society seems to be convinced that they have to be calmed down and pacified in some way to make life easier for the teacher.

Sir Ken Robinson has other ideas – as he usually does – about how to treat hyperactive children.

Watch this illustrated / animated video of his latest thoughts on educational paradigms.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The night of November 9th / 10th, known as  kristallnacht  ( the night of the broken glass) is the anniversary of  one of the most  terrible and horrifying  events that led to the   intensifying of Nazi pogroms against Jews and the ‘final solution’ of the Holocaust.

In one night  over 1600 synagogues were ransacked and torn apart and 267 were burnt to the ground. Jewish homes and businesses in Germany and Austria were destroyed  and broken glass from shattered windows littered the streets.

Photograph of the smashed interior of the Berlin synagogue

Thirty thousand Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps, amongst them, my grandfather.

There is no shortage of  terrifying and heart rending  stories – many of which  almost defy belief  - about  the suffering that Jews went through and the  sacrifices they made to help each other and retain their own sense of humanity.


And there are stories of people who survived the Nazi hell and  took their horrifying experiences and used them to ensure that others would not have to suffer the  feeling of being without family or home – like Hanna Bar Yesha below.



The story told below ( which you may have seen as it went viral on the internet this month) is slightly different as  Alice Sommer Herz was a concert pianist and this saved her life when  she was chosen to be in the camp orchestra in Theresienstadt.   Theresienstadt  was  a ‘so-called’ model  concentration camp that the Germans built to  try and convince the world that  all their concentration camps were as  humane and holiday-camp like as this one . Here the  starving inmates, under threat of immediate extermination,  had to play   music, sing in choirs and perform plays to show how cultured and fun their life was. 

Her love of life and appreciation of everything she has is an inspiration to us all. She bears no hatred for  anyone which could be the reason that at 106, apart from being the oldest Holocaust survivor, she also still plays her beloved piano regularly and entertains her many friends every day in her flat. Her ‘simchat chaim’  joy of life on a daily basis is an inspiration to us all.




In a post several months ago I told  of another  story that took place in Theresienstadt , the  setting up of a  beautifully decorated, hidden synagogue.


The descendents of Asher Berlinger  who risked his life to build and decorate this shul are still looking for anyone who actually  saw this shul while they were in the camp during the war.

Thank G’d my parents and both sets of grandparents  escaped from Germany and, compared to so many others, did not suffer  torments at the hands of the Nazis. The Holocaust  was rarely mentioned in our home when I was a child, as far as I can remember, and it was only as a teenager that I started to think about it.

Nevertheless, in some way I still think of myself as a 2nd generation survivor with an obligation to ensure that our children and grandchildren  don’t just think of this as another part of  Jewish history.

The reverberations of the Holocaust are still with us. Holocaust denial is an accepted contagious  disease  spreading throughout the Western world and neo-Nazism  and anti-Semitism, in  many forms and disguises, are  getting stronger every day.

We’d be blind  fools to think it couldn’t happen again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


In a recent email exchange with an old friend and fellow writer,  Ros Adam, I reminisced about the days when, if I wanted to speak to my parents,  I had to book an international call a week in advance, from the international operator of the Israel telephone company.

Then I had to make sure that I was at home to receive the call from the operator to connect me to my parents far away from sunny Jerusalem, in not-too-sunny Leicester.

In those day, 40 years ago, and even when we returned here 27 years ago, telephones, whilst not a luxury, were certainly not a ‘given’ in any home.

We had to wait a year until we received our telephones in our new apartment in Ramot., in 1983. After it had been installed, all of a sudden our 18 month old twins suddenly crawled over to their toy box, took out their Fisher-Price telephone and started playing with it, turning the dial, picking it up and talking into it . We suddenly realized that until then, they hadn’t had any idea what to do with it.

We are now ‘blessed’ with a tel/fax , a cordless phone ( and you may remember just what I think of our cordless phone) and three cell phones – with bills to match.

Are we better off? I doubt it but I must admit that I’ve come to rely on them all

I can remember when one morning quite a few years ago,I got on the bus and pulled out my purse to pay. I looked in horror at the empty pocket where my cell phone fits . I always had it with me just in case one of my teenagers or the younger children’s babysitter needs to contact me.

I sat down and stared at the empty space, like an amputee looking at his missing limb.

None of the younger children called to say that they don’t like this sitter and why couldn’t they have the one I got last week who let them all jump on her and tear her hair out while she lay on the floor pretending to be dead.

Daycare Woman Reading to a Bunch of Children clipart

No one called to say “ she started it first and it’s not fair and Mummy you must tell her that it’s my turn and she hit me and you’ve got to tell her off and when are you coming home?.”

No one called to ask me what was for lunch.

No one called to ask me where I had put their purple skirt and blouse that they had dropped on the floor last week and hadn’t seen since.

No one called to ask me to tell their younger sister that it was her turn to wash the dishes.

Little Girl Washing Dishes clipart

No one called to tell me to ignore the phone call I was about to get from her older sister, telling me that she had behaved very badly because it wasn’t true and really it was all the older one’s fault.

No one called to ask me why there was nothing to eat in the fridge.

No one called to ask permission for something I usually say ‘no’ to. hoping that I’m not really paying attention and so I’m more likely to say “yes” to all sorts of things I would never dream of agreeing to face-to-face.

None of my teenage daughters called to ask me if one of her friends had left a message by mistake on my cell-phone for them because no one had called her for at least an hour.

I wandered calmly around the stores, spent much longer than usual in the bookshop, indulged in an uninterrupted cup of coffee with a friend, and as I passed a woman with 2 children , suddenly a horrible feeling of fear overcame me. What if heaven forbid something terrible had happened and no one could contact me.

I rushed off to find a pay-phone. “ Hi Kids. Just touching base. Is everything OK?”

Oh the wonders of modern technology.

Saturday, October 9, 2010



In the interests of my work as a travel writer , I decided to follow the path of the ancient Jerusalem Knights when they visited the Old City last week courtesy of the Jerusalem Development Authority and and Ministry of Tourism.

They will be there every Thursday in October from 7.30 – 10.30.


I have to admit that as someone who grew up with an English education, my picture of knights in shining armour was slightly different from the Hebrew speaking, Jewish  ones we met there.

Not surprisingly, the whole performance was based in the Christian Quarter, but the truth is that no one really paid any attention to the surroundings. The whole circular  trail  that started just  inside Jaffa Gate was packed tightly with local Israelis and tourists intent on working their way round the  map we were given at Jaffa Gate where the performance started.


Every few yards we found another knight, medieval king, queen, buffoon, princess, magicians, jugglers, court jesters, muse, troubadour, beggar or some other refugee from the middle Ages.


The costumes, acting and music was in the most part well done and the whole performance  was fun although the introductory performance was  in my opinion too long and unnecessary  and few spectators bothered to watch it all.


It was pleasantly surprising that most of the spectators who crowded the narrow alleys of the Old City, kept moving and there was little pushing and shoving. Even small children managed to get a good look at all  various scenes.  



Hope that security guard in the back wasn’t meant to challenge the Giant.



Watching out for the  slaves escaping from the slave market.


How else is a little knight meant to get a good look?



A friendly knight getting down to children’s level.


A final serenade  before leaving …….. and then just when you think you’re safe

There another one waiting to attack just where you parked your car.


Sunday, September 26, 2010





The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are  situated in Yehuda Burla Street, close to the Hebrew University campus at Givat Ram, and round the corner from  the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum.


It is  a delight to visit at any time of the year , but especially  at Autumn / Fall/Sukkot time  when the leaves are starting to fall and the  bright shots of color contrast the greens and grays .


Take a ride in the mini train and then alight and take a long walk along the paths and winding stairs which  will lead you from one section to the next.



The gardens are divided into the different  continents of the world each with plants and flowers indigenous to their area with a large central lake and visitors center.






IMG_1082 Over  10,000 varieties of plants from all over the world can be seen here.


There is also a tropical greenhouse and a special Butterfly House which  has been reopened just for Chol Homed Sukkot.


Descriptions and explanations are given in English and HebrewIMG_1065 IMG_1113