For the Day of Poetry 2017 – One Sentence On Tyranny


Today is the Day of Poetry in Hungary. It is celebrated on the birthday of Attila József, a 20th century Hungarian poet. Today, however, the poem I’m going to share is by another poet–who, by the way, married József’s love and muse, and a leading figure in Hungarian special education, Flóra Kozmutza. This poem by Gyula Illyés is as actual today in Hungary, in Israel, in the USA as it was nearly 61 years ago when it was first published.


Where tyranny exists
that tyranny exists
not only in the barrel of the gun
not only in the cells of a prison

not just in the interrogation block
or the small hours of the clock
the guard’s bark and his fists
the tyranny exists

not just in the billowing black fetor
of the closing speech of the prosecutor,
in the “justified use of force”
the prisoners’ dull morse

not merely in the cool postscript
of the expected verdict
there’s tyranny
not just in the crisp military

order to “Stand!” and the numb
instruction “Fire!”, the roll of the drum,
in the last twitch
of the corpse in the ditch

not just in the door half open
and the fearful omen,
the whispered tremor
of the secret rumour

the hand that grips,
the finger before the lips,
tyranny is in place
in the iron mask of the face

in the clench of the jaw
the wordless O
of pain and its echo
and the tears

of silence-breeding fears,
in the surprise
of starting eyes

tyranny supplies
the standing ovation, the loud
hurrahs and chanting of the crowd
at the conference, the songs

of tyranny, the breasts
that tyranny infests,
the loud unflagging
noise of rhythmic clapping,

at the opera, in trumpet cry,
in the uproarious lie
of grandiose statues, of colours,
in galleries,

in the frame and the wash,
in the very brush,
not just in the neat snarl
of the midnight car

as it waits
outside the gates

tyranny permeates
all manners and all states,
its omnipresent eyes more steady
than those of old Nobodaddy,

there’s tyranny
in the nursery
in father’s advice, in his guile,
in your mother’s smile

in the child’s answer
to the perfect stranger;

not just in wires with barbs and hooks
not just in rows of books,
but, worse than a barbed wire fence
the slogans devoid of sense

whose tyranny supplies
the long goodbyes;
the words of parting,
the will-you-be-home-soon-darling?

in the street manners, the meetings
and half-hearted greetings,
the handshakes and the alarm
of the weak hand in your palm,

he’s there when your loved one’s face
turns suddenly to ice
he accompanies you
to tryst or rendezvous

not just in the grilling
but in the cooing and the billing,
in your words of love he’ll appear
like a dead fly in your beer

because even in dreams you’re not free
of his eternal company,
in the nuptial bed, in your lust
he covers you like dust

because nothing may be caressed
but that which he first blessed,
it is him you cuddle up to
and raise your loving cup to

in your plate, in your glass he flows
in your mouth and through your nose
in frost, fog, out or in
he creeps under your skin

like an open vent through which
you breathe the foul air of the ditch
and it lingers like drains
or a gas leak at the mains

it’s tyranny that dogs
your inner monologues,
nothing is your own
once your dreams are known

all is changed or lost,
each star a border post
light-strafed and mined; the stars
are spies at window bars,

the vast tent’s every lamp
lights a labour camp,
come fever, come the bell
it’s tyranny sounds the knell,

confessor is confession,
he preaches, reads the lesson
he’s Church, House and Theatre
the Inquisition;

you blink your eyes, you stare
you see him everywhere;
like sickness or memory
he keeps you company;

trains rattling down the rail
the clatter of the jail;
in the mountains, by the coast
you are his breathing host;

lightning: the sudden noise
of thunder, it’s his voice
in the bright electric dart,
the skipping of the heart
in moments of calm,
chains of tedium,
in rain that falls an age,
the star-high prison-cage

in snow that rises and waits
like a cell, and isolates;
your own dog’s faithful eyes
wear his look for disguise,

his is the truth, the way
so each succeeding day
is his, each move you make
you do it for his sake;

like water, you both follow
the course set and the hollow
ring is closed; that phiz
you see in the mirror is his

escape is doomed to failure,
you’re both prisoner and gaoler;
he has soaked, corroded in,
he’s deep beneath your skin

in your kidney, in your fag,
he’s in your every rag,
you think: his agile patter
rules both mind and matter

you look, but what you see
is his, illusory,
one match is all it takes
and fire consumes the brake

you having failed to snuff
the head as it broke off;
his watchfulness extends
to factories, fields and friends

and you no longer know or feel
what it is to live, eat meat or bread
to desire or love or spread
your arms wide in appeal;

it is the chain slaves wear
that they themselves prepare;
you eat but it’s tyranny
grows fat, his are your progeny

in tyranny’s domain
you are the link in the chain,
you stink of him through and through,
the tyranny IS you;

like moles in sunlight we crawl
in pitch darkness, sprawl
and fidget in the closet
as if it were a desert,

because where tyranny obtains
everything is vain,
the song itself though fine
is false in every line,

for he stands over you
at your grave, and tells you who
you were, your every molecule
his to dispose and rule.

April is Here


Yesterday I turned 35. Not considering that everyone assumed I already had the new Harel Skaat album (and no, I still don’t have it, good thing I still have a few days of the free Apple Music trials, because I can’t even go out now to buy it, and I am out of iTunes credit), it was quite an awesome day.

Between March 16 and April 5 there are several birthdays in the family, and this year we had two 18th birthdays, too! So yesterday was the day when our extended family were celebrating with us, giving us an opportunity to catch up with some people we hadn’t seen in a while. Like my sister, who, once again, moved back to Israel. It was lovely to catch up with everyone, despite the ever increasing tension between the religious family members and those following “the gay agenda”.

So back to the 4th Harel Skaat album. I pretty much already own every song on the album–a mix of older hits and new songs–yet I totally am going to buy it. Because I’m silly like that. I just wish Lauf had made it on there!


Apparently one more song for our wedding playlist


2017 is here


The last few days of 2016 were filled with “I can’t wait for 2016 to finally end! 2017 can’t come early enough!” 

So 2017 came, and the first news item was at least 39 people being killed in a terrorist attack at a New Year’s party in Istanbul, Turkey.

Obviously, no celebrities have died yet. There will be celebrity deaths–our childhood icons are growing older each year–but 2017 is already proving to be no better than 2016, the year that began with a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, killing two and injuring 8. 

What can make 2017 better than 2016? Us. A year’s worth should not be measured in the number of famous people who die, but in what we do to make the world better. Let’s not allow terror to rule this year. Celebrate the accomplishments of people around us. Let’s live with a fullness of life. 

A Friday in Ireland


„His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.”

My husband was reading to me on the couch, his head resting on my lap. It wasn’t anything very intellectual, uplifting, or edifying, just a Jo Nesbo novel we had picked up earlier that day—just after we got married. It was the first thing we bought as a married couple.

It happened so fast, so simply. Two witnesses. The Registrar. Less than 15 minutes. A few kind words and—surprisingly—a few quotes from the Bible and that famous line by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a song quietly playing in the background by Joshua Radin.

“Alone we are fine
But when we are two
We are eternal
The moons aligned
Our separate lives
Here become one”

We didn’t even have ties, just the two Oxford shirts we had picked up a store on Patrick Street the day before. My socks were mismatched, and my coat was still at the dry-cleaners. This wasn’t like how I had imagined my wedding to be. I always envisioned nicely tailored tuxes, a chuppah, decorations, family and friends, a nicely catered dinner, and live music. We even had a jar of change to hire a certain Israeli singer. Kevin and I enjoyed looking for ideas for invitations, party favours, and centerpieces. We had a paylist we kept adding somgs to that would be playing at our wedding. We wanted to serve gourmet burgers, fish and some vegan option for dinner, and have a non-wrecked cake.

Instead we celebrated with gingerbread lattes from Starbucks. We walked along the River Lee, sipping the overly sweet coffee with milk foam so over-steamed it was hard, and it really felt like the best meal I’d ever had. It was so good, in fact, that after getting home I washed and saved our papercups. And by home I meant the hotel, because we splurged and spent two nights in a hotel downtown, rather than the bunkbeds at my uncle’s farm.

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside”

Patrick Street was decorated for Christmas. The Bavarian candy coated nut stand smelled like childhood holidays. Some school choir was performing Christmas carols, and the various shops all played Christmas music. People were rushing around us, doing their shopping, while we quietly strolled along. And then, from amid the sea of Christmas music, we heard a song, one that we had saved on our playlist, one that always reminded me of my wonderful friends, one that Kevin loves playing on the piano and singing to us. It was Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love. Kevin pulled me close and kissed me, in the middle of Cork’s busiest street.

Just a few short hours later, we were listening to our playlist as Kevin read to me from a Scandinavian crime novel, still wearing our new shirts, with a bottle of wine waiting for us. Kevin stood up to open it, and And then again The Book of Love. This time it was Peter Gabriel’s wonderful cover. As he hugged me close our hearts beat in unison and we started to dance. Our first dance.

It might not have been a big, perfect event. It might not have been very romantic. It might not change much in our day-to-day life. It, however, was an overcast Friday morning in Cork, when Kevin and I got married. 14 years. It’s more than just a piece of paper. It’s a page in our book of love.

Quotes in thispost are from Song of Solomon 8:30, Joshua Radin (Lovely Tonight), Lin-Manuel Miranda

Boring in Israel – 60 years


It was 60 years ago today that my grandparents made the decision that they would leave Hungary. 

It was the middle of the the Suez Crisis, and my grandparents were already packing, ready to leave to fight for Israel. The original idea was that they’d eventually return. It was also the middle of the Hungarian uprising of 1956, and many people had the hope that a country freed from Soviet rule will transition into a democratic state, and my grandparents wanted to be a part of that. As they had been part of the birth of the State of Israel, they wanted to help build a new Hungary. However,  after they arrived in Israel the news reached them of the death of Imre Mező on November 1, and the circumstances of it. Mező, a Communist leader, was among those defending the party headquarters, and he was one if those people who exited the building under a white flag to surrender the building to the revolutionary forces. All three of them were shot to death, most likely by revolutionaries. 

Grandpa, himself a socialist with communist leanings, an acquaintence of Mező and a supporter of Imre Nagy’s politics couldn’t reconcile the events and actions of either side with his personal values. Something broke in him when it came to the country that rejected him again and again. After November 4, when Soviet troops invaded Hungary again as the Western powers were tied up in the Suez crisis, any real chance to return was no more. It took nearly 50 days for my grandparents to return to Budapest again. It took them 25 years to be reunited with their then 13-year-old son, who opted to stay behind with the Christian couple who had rescued him as a baby when his parents were deported. 

So while today is boring in Israel-hospitals are always boring, aren’t they?-60 years ago today it was anything but.

Boring in Israel -Wow, that didn’t last long


So things got crazy here. I have posts written on my phone, where the app refuses to connect to publish my posts. 

Sukkot this year didn’t work out as we hoped. First out petrog (our etrog gets treated like a pet) was lost on a bus. Kevin came home from school with a nasty cold and by the time he got through it, some of the kids got it, and from the kids I managed to catch it. Mine turned into pneumonia, so I have had the opportunity to test how much hospital food has improved. I hope to be discharged soon, and then hopefully share my thoughts on the whole UNESCO fiasco, SNL, and Jack Chick.

Boring in Israel – Erev Yom Kippur


Erev Yom Kippur means the night of Yom Kippur. Jewish days begin at sunset and end at nightfall, so they overlap a bit, and when we say that we fast for a day on Yom Kippur, it means about 25 hours. When we talk about the longest day (incorrectly), many people mean Yom Kippur. LDS people shouldn’t laugh: when you do it only twice a year, it is a much bigger challenge!

(Now when I mean we incorrectly refer to Yom Kippur as the longest day I mean that the longest day is, in fact Rosh Hashanah: a holiday that is two days both in eretz and in the diaspora.)

By the time this post appears, Yom Kippur has begun here. We have left for the synagogue, and some of our older kids are out riding bikes. We have carefully turned on the radio and left it on–a modern day “tradition” that began with the Yom Kippur War. Statistics say that more than half of Israeli Jews fast on Yom Kippur. A smaller percentage attend synagogue. On the other hand, many secular Israelis use this day, when you won’t see a car on the roads, to go on bike rides throughout the city. We do both, at least some of us do either or both things.

Have an easy fast!

Boring in Israel – Getting Ready for Yom Kippur


On previous years I posted about Yom Kippur more in detail. I have also said it is my favourite holiday. It still is, and I’m still not religious. I plan to fast this year, as most of our kids and Kevin as well.

I’m still not religious. I still don’t believe in any supreme being. But I am Jewish. I am my people. Yom Kippur is mine.

Every year there is a moment when I remember this wonderful piece by Vanessa Hidary during the days of repentance.

Not only because Yom Kippur is mentioned, and it’s on a Tuesday. It’s because someone will question my reason for observing it. Even if I don’t do it perfectly.

Boring in Israel – Sundays Are Busy


Ever since every second Sunday morning we started taking one of our boys back to Jerusalem for school, Sundays have become very busy. I usually get up around 4:30, and get ready to drive the boy back to school. We get there a bit after 7, and I head back to TA. If I don’t have anything urgent in the mornings, I might stop at the shuk or one of my favourite little shops in J’lem. Today I did that, as I had till noon as free time.

I had also promised a friend to do a small thing for her next time I was at the Kotel, so I stopped there, too. I am not sure when the next time is to clean the notes out of the cracks of the wall, but her intention is now there.

Rushed back to TA, went to my classes, went home, did laundry, made dinner (breakfast for dinner is a favourite around here), started a slow cooker meal for the kids for tomorrow and then I finally sat down to type a rather boring post.

Boring in Israel – Theatre


If you talk to me with any regularity, you know that the only reason why I wanted to go to the States the past year was to see Hamilton. When in Hungary I try to take advantage of same day half price theatre tickets. Here, however, the last time I went to the theatre was when Next to Normal was playing here in TA  four years ago. Ok, I went to matinees with the kids like Peter Pan and Aladdin, but all of those plays had one thing in common: Harel Skaat.

When we went to see Les Miserables the other night the pattern wasn’t broken: in this version of the musical both Harel Skaat and Amir Dadon have great roles. Now I had never seen Les Miserables before. I played Gavroche as a kid in community theatre productions twice, but I had never seen the whole play before. I haven’t seen the movie either, though I have read the novel multiple times.

What made this show different is that… I understood quite a bit of it. Only eight years after making the move here, I can finally enjoy a musical in Hebrew. So in a few weeks we’ll see Evita. Evita doesn’t have Harel Skaat. It has Ran Ydanker, though. 🙂

Boring in Israel – Shabbat Shalom!


Today has been way to busy, with a quick run to the capital to pick up family. So. Here’s a video.

Boring in Israel – When Rockets Fall


I was not really going to write about it, at best I was going to link an old post from Operation Protective Edge, because this series is about Israel, and because I like that post. So go click that link. Then come back, because what happened yesterday needs a few words.

By yesterday I mean today, because I’m writing this post on Wednesday. As I was standing in line for coffee (maybe I should rename this blog kosherkoffee) during one of the breaks, I saw the details of the rocket attack of Gaza earlier today. The first news only said that the rocket was fired from Gaza and landed in the Israeli city of Sderot. Sderot is a city close to the Gaza border. Once a rocket is launched, residents have about 15 seconds to find shelter.

Today’s rocket didn’t cause damage. Two people were treated for shock. The rocket landed by an elementary school.

Let’s review that again.

The rocket landed by an elementary school.

Because, as so many anti-Israel Facebook activists claim, Hamas doesn’t target civillians.

An elementary school. Where our children use earthquake (and mostly) rocket-proof desks so they have somewhere to hide when the rockets fall.

Boring in Israel – Autism Research


It took 32 years for me to be diagnosed with Autism, replacing some other diagnoses during my life. It only happened once we’ve lived in Israel for several years, and some people more educated in Autism noticed some signs and recommended testing for me.

So this morning, when I was reading Ynet over my coffee, an article about further findings in research of the genetic background of Autism caught my attention. Researchers at my sister-in-law Maya’s alma mater, the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev discovered an evolutionary signature associated with Autism. Their findimgs can help develop better therapies in the future, which is exciting news.

And maybe, finally, this news will prompt people to vaccinate against deadly childhood deaseases.

Boring in Israel – Meanwhile in New York


Over tea I was reading the English edition of Jerusalem Post online, and in it I read that Temple Emanu-El in New York City charged between $850 and $3000+ for Rosh Hashanah services. The JPost calls the synagogue posh, and points out that the more expensive tickets would have paid for two tickets to see Hamilton. To be honest the expensive tickets include the yearly membership fees as well, but still, if I had 3000 dollars to blow in NYC, I’d definitely opt for seeing Hamilton over pay to pray.
In full honesty, my synagogue has membership fees, and we sell tickets for high holiday services to non-members. That’s because just like Christmas and Easter Christians attend church twice a year, many Jews only come to shul for the high holidays and Passover only. Many of them won’t formally join a synagogue. When they come, our synagogue fills up, and while we love having them, regular members and attendees are guaranteed a spot to sit down. We sell tickets for NIS 20 (4 cups of Cofix coffee or less than $5) for seats, but everyone is welcome to come join us–we might not be able to seat them, but people are pretty good with bringing folding chairs. These tickets bring in less than 1000 dollar/event, and we usually spend it on replacing worn siddurs (prayer books) and buying books for our library. We also serve refreshments, so it’s not a bad deal. But chargimg 3K? Excessive, even if the members are generally well off.

In our shul membership fees pay for the maintenance of the building, the rabbi’s and the chazzan’s salaries, bills and other necessary expenses to keep the congregation running. On the ither hand, members regularly carry out tzadakah, but contributing to various charities, causes, or giving directly to those in need. This is an obligation to us, and generally about 10% of our income goes towards tzedakah.

Oh herr is the original article referenced by JPost from The Telegraph! 

Boring in Israel – Rosh Hashanah


L’Shana Tova!

As I raise this glass of pommegranate wine to the new year, I am giving thanks for being an impulse shopper, and buying 15 chickens to freeze when they were on sale last month.

You see, one of the leading news a few days ago was the chicken shortage expected over the high holidays due to the alignment of Islam’s and Judaism’s holy days this year. Luckily I had plenty of chicken to feed the 40+ people who had dinner with us to usher in the new year of 5777!

This year, once again, we skipped the pommegranate chicken, this year in favour of a honey glazed chicken that involved a lot less work. When you cook for 40+ people making things simpler is important! A bushel of apples, several jars of honey, a lot of pommegranates (our first harvest!) served as dessert. For today, I made some honey zserbó, because I am glutton for punishment, and baking for three days is just what I wanted to do while preparing for exams.

So what have we done to welcome the new year? First of all, cleaned and cooked. Then went to synagogue to welcome in the new year, while our non-Jewish family members remained home. We had picked up two lone soldiers to spend the holiday with us, while our current soldiers, unfortunately, couldn’t come home this year. We called them after the new year came in, and we could FaceTime with one of them. While there was a dinner at shul, too, this year we hosted some of our extended family, too, so we hurried home. We ate outside, and I can’t wait for Sukkot to do it again with these lovely people.

This year the Islamic New Year coincides with Rosh Hashanah (and this year Ashura will be October 11, and Yom Kippur will begin on October 11 as well), and while the new year usually involves fasting and introspection–not unlike the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur–we were joined by our beloved former neighbours from the time we lived in Yafo to celebrate our new years. It is 1438 for them, and 5777 for us. This is the neighbour who named his daughter Leia, because he is a geek, an his younger son is named Luka, both for Skywalker and Picard. 🙂

My grandmother and great-aunt came to visit from Eilat, and while they chose to stay at a hotel this year, they joined us both last night and today. I am not surprised they chose the hotel, a total of 35 of us spent the night. I’m glad my sister at point wanted to teach yoga and ended up storing all the yoga mats at our place! They double nicely as temporary beds.

Obviously one of the most important parts of Jewish holidays is the prayers we sing. One of those thatw e sing at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services in Avineu Malkeinu.

This version by Barbra Streisand is one of the most beautiful ones and it always gives me chills. Only a few days ago, at Shimon Peres’ funeral we heard another moving rendition of the same prayer by David D’Or.

Boring in Israel – Meanwhile in Hungary


Today in Hungary a pointless referendum is taking place. Pointless, because Hungary had already agreed to the EU refugee handling policies, and now the government asked the question if voters wanted to allow the EU to move asylum seekers to Hungary.

People serm to be uninterested, as the expected participation level is around 44%. Anything under 50% means the referendum itself will be unsuccessful or invalid. Also Hungary’s joke party–who are growing into quite a political force–recommended casting invalid votes, like the above one, where both the yes and no are marked as part of the wish for a good year!

L’Shana Tova, everyone!

Boring in Israel – Shimon Peres


Just as America re-descovers its founding fathers, we Israelis just said farewell to our last founding father, Shimon Peres.

Shimon Peres’ shiva concludes today, but the ache caused by his passing will be felt by millions for a lomg time. You see, Shimon Peres was one of the most universally loved people in Israel. He will be remembered as someone committed to peace, and who represented the whole country.

That hadn’t always been the case, though. Peres, like all active politicians, had people agreeing and disagreeing with his policies. Benyamin Netanyahu, a friend of Peres, was a great political rival. Peres’ participation in past governments, his stand on the peace process were all controversial at one time or another. At the same time most agree that Peres helped turn Israel into the technological hub and start-up paradise during his long career.

I missed out on most of the controversy. When I arrived in Israel Peres was no longer a member of the Knesset, or seriously involved in day-to-day politics, as by then he was the 9th President of Israel. As the head of state he was committed to be the president of every Israeli, regardless of political associations–something that our 10th president, Reuven Rivlin is also trying to do.

Peres wasn’t only a politician, he was a poet as well. He also could summarize important truths into a short sentence.

He also had a great sense of humour.

But most of all, he was kind. He wanted to be lived by his people and he wanted to love his people.

I had the opportunity to meet President Peres once, and I’m sure he shook hundreds of people’s hands during that event, he was genuinely interested and focused on the person he was meeting. A real smile, and asking back when he didn’t understand my name at first were just a few seconds, but meant a lot to me.

Now Shimon Peres is gone, but his legacy lives on. May his memory be a blessing.

Boring in Israel – After the Shabbat Goes Out


It’s Saturday evening, the scent of the Havdala spices and the recently extinguished candle still lingers in the air. Kevin just poured himself a glass of wine, I am curled up on the couch with my gigantic cup of tea, and the 186th Semiannual General Conference of the LDS Church is on TV (thanks MormonChannel app!). Why we still watch it every six months? Not sure. But is is something that is part of our family’s traditions, unless General Conference clashes with one of the Jewish holidays so often falling around the beginning of October.

The grocery store just recently opened after the Shabbat went out, so some of the boys ran out for snacks, and now they are watching this slightly Stepford-wife looking Young Women’s General President with a weird intonation talk about something very important, but we can’t quite decide sometimes where a sentence ended. At least President Eyring looks the exact same as he did when I officially left the church 14 years ago. 

The littles are packing their school bags, so tomorrow morning they can catch 5 more minutes of snooze time before school. Yes, our week begins on Sunday. While the MoTab sing (that’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, btw) I load the washer and set the timer so it will start in the morning. One of the girls asks if there is anything left to eat and she is instructed by a brother to look in the dairy fridge. 

Today was the last Shabbat of 5776. Tomorrow evening when the sun sets 5777 begins. It’s a time for introspection and repentance, and because of that I didn’t dare to like a photo of bacon today. You see, my rabbi is a friend on Facebook. (Ok, just kidding, but really, for the Jewish soul, this is a time to prepare for not only the new year, but for the day of atonement, Yom Kippur as well. I have written about both holidays before, and I imagine I will write about them this coming few days, again.

If you are here from the #write31days link up, please feel free to click around. Eventually it will start to make sense.

And now the compulsory Harel Skaat video.

Boring in Israel, or Blogging in October


So I decided to try it once more. I will attempt to blog every day in October. Of course, as each year, it took me by surprise tha September 30 is followed by October 1. So I crowdsourced for ideas on Facebook and people somehow seem to think that everyday life in Israel is more interesting than in their respective countries. Trust me, it’s not. However, I will try to show tiny tidbits about life in Israel that might not bore everyone to tears.

That said, I will link all posts here.

  1. After the Shabbat
  2. Shimon PeresAnd a second post today: Meanwhile in Hungary
  3. Rosh Hashanah
  4. Meanwhile in New York
  5. Autism research
    There is a link up here.

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