Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Mamad, Helmet, and the British Actress


You should never ever need one, but it's good to have one, just in case.  It could save lives .  

Mamad (acronym for the hebrew 'merchav mugan' - meaning  protective space)  is a fortified room with reinforced, cemented walls and ceilings, thick floor, airtight steel door and window. It is supposed to be impenetrable to rockets carrying bombs or chemical/biological stuff. In peace time, it can be used as a storage/study/play room, but not as a kitchen or bathroom.

The law that requires a newly built house/ building /apartment to have a 'mamad', is from year 1993, after the notorious "Gulf War".  There are certain regulations with which I am not familiar as I  myself don't own a 'mamad'.

The thing is, a five year old boy, was critically injured during one of the recent rocket attacks, ( he later died in hospital-rip), when a shrapnel punctured the window of the 'mamad'. It is considered a rare incident, and it is under investigation. 

There were also some people who got injured by falling on their way to the mamad.  A 73 year old woman, awaken by the alarm, got quickly off her bed, ran towards the mamad and fell on her head before reaching the mamad. She died a few days laterׂ - rip (perhaps, a light helmet should be considered for prevention of tragic cases like this one.)

Those who don't have that kind of room (like me) are advised to stay in the most inner spot of their home, away from windows and exterior walls.That's what I do upon hearing the siren, and, immediately start ...praying to God asking for protection.

By the way, I became aware of how deadly a fall on the head could be, while following the news about the tragedy of Natasha Richardson, british actress, daughter of the great Vanessa Redgrave, wife of actor Liam Neeson. She fell on her head while skiing in Quebec, Canada, and died in a matter of days in 2009 (rip). I think since then, a helmet has become mandatory on ski slopes.



Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Silence of Stone

We usually become aware of the above kind of silence  when  visiting cemeteries ׂ(headstones) and deserted places (stone of ruins and abandoned houses).

In summer 2015,  I visited the  leper colony (1903-1957) of Spinalonga (Crete, Greece). The silence of the stone there , was telling  us about the struggle of the  former inhabitants  to survive under terrible, unimaginable, conditions .

Their suffering  got through the stone and reached us, visitors.  Despite the midsummer scorching heat, I felt a shiver along my spine during the whole trip.  

Great sadness fell upon those walking on the islet and learning about  the people  with leprosy gathered  and brought to a place with no way of return.

In spite of it all - sickness, hardships, stigma - there was life going on there (people fell in love , married, had children; built houses, two little churches, an hospital , a cemetery). The place , once nicknamed 'the land of the living dead', is seen nowadays as a monument  to human pain and spirit.

                                                            the gate (tunnel) of no return

                                                   by the window of a  deserted stone house

                                 access to a little dock where supplies were brought in         

(more photos and details in my post of Oct. 2016).


The message conveyed through the silence of stone is that suffering ultimately leads to death and decay, but the spirit stays on.  It is a comforting thought.

There's a dramatic song on YouTube named "The Spirit goes on" whose refrain says:

"If I die  tomorrow I'll be alright

Because I believe

That after we're gone

The spirit carries on"                                                         



Friday, May 7, 2021

The Alphabet


Whatever we learn, or at least some of it, goes with us; it never gets completely lost.  I've realized that when visiting Moscow, a few years ago.

In the higher grade of elementary school, in communist Romania,  we started  to learn russian  as a second language. It was  difficult for us, native speakers of a romance language (romanian) because of 
russian's Cyrillic script as opposed to the Latin script.   Besides, our teacher was young and inexperienced, so the teaching was not very productive.

teacher of russian holding bouquet of flowers (my head touching it).

Years later, I managed to remember only a few random russian words,  but I did remember well  the alphabet. The knowledge of the alphabet was of tremendous help to me in two places in Moscow: the stunning Metro (reading the names of the stations), and the famous Novodevichi cemetery where all the 'Who's Who' of Russia were buried (reading the names on the headstones).

T-shirt with the map of the metro stations. It's made of fine cotton,

(The signs  everywhere in the city were in russian only, which made it very difficult for a tourist without a guide or group to find his way around).

After visiting the tombstones of politicians (Khruschev, Yeltsin), of writers (Chechkov, Gogol), composers (Shostakovitch), ballet dancer (Galina Ulanova), wives of Stalin and Gurbachev (Nadhezda, Raisa), violonist (David Oistreich), opera singer (Shaleapin) and others, I approached a small group of tourists in a corner I was about to explore on my own.

Yeltsin's  headstone; it catches the eye with its unusual shape and colors.

ballet dancer Galina Ulanova's tombstone

It turned out, the group I approached  was  israeli . While listening to the guide's explanations  (in hebrew),  I got the strange feeling he didn't know any russian. I was probably right, as he pointed to a headstone and said ;'here liesTupolev' (aircraft designer, the designer of the famous Tupolev  russian military bombers). 'No, I found myself intervening, Tupolev  lies next; have a look at the name on the stone'. There was silence in the air, and I felt badly about it.

Obviously, the guide could  not read russian.  I could....due to those rather boring russian lessons in elementary school. lol.





Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Disaster at Meron (29 .4.2021)


45 people crushed to death, over 150 injured , at an overcrowded  Lag ba Omer event at Mt. Meron in northern Israel, near the city of Safed (Tzfat).

The event is meant to commemorate the passing date of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (RASHBI, for short), an ancient scholar, author of the basic text of the Kabbalah. It is done in and around his tomb, with people asking for salvation, lighting bonfires and candles, and displaying a lot of joy through music and dances.

entrance to tomb


I feel sad, very sad. I can't say, though, I"m very surprised. This festival of light and joy at the tomb of RASHBI  , takes place every year; it is a miracle that it ends ,relatively, without casualties, considering  all those thousands of  ultra-orthodox jews invading the narrow , underdeveloped , mountain area. 

This year there was no miracle. There were heartbreaking scenes of people slipping and falling on top of one another , of stampede , of hopeless rescue attempts.

I'm against this kind of mass events. First of all, I believe the deceased rabbi is entitled to sleep in peace his eternal sleep without  any disturbance from the outside world.

Secondly, I think those who've given permission and money ׂ('coalition' money, I presume) to this mass gathering, especially now, with the corona virus playing 'hide and seek' with us, should be heavily punished.

I'm very much afraid it's just the beginning of the disaster. Who knows if and how many of the thousands of surviving participants have contracted the virus . 

The day of tomorrow (Sunday) is declared national day of mourning.