Yom HaZikaron: Memorial Day

Tel Saki war memorial, Golan Heights

Among the Photographs By Elisha Porat

On Memorial Day I wander
among the photographs: the taut black
ribbons entwined with flowers,
candles flickering under the images.
From within the white strips of writing,
I watch as their fingerprints
emerge, their laughter,
their secret whisperings bursting out at me.
How very different things could have been
with them, among them, in the heat of their breath,
and not so soft and silent,
like now, without them.

Translated from Hebrew by Cindy Eisner

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Yom HaShoah

Yom HaShoah always leaves my mind reeling with a cacophony of words and thoughts that I cannot put together coherently.


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My friend Rob Greenberg Z’tl

I am sad today. My dear friend Rob has left this world. He is gone way to soon.


He was exceptionally talented. A veteran script writer and editor, or as he called himself, a ‘script doctor’.

Rob worked on many Australian TV shows, including ‘Prisoner’ and ‘The Flying Doctors’. He also worked on numerous kids tv programs, all wonderful, but of course, I have my favorite shows, ‘Fleabitten’ and ‘Dogstar’. He wrote kids books too, including ‘The Greeblies’, ‘There’s Money in Toilets’, and ‘Swimming with Skeletons’.p

Rob was born to write, and he described his writing career as beginning when he won the Best Sentence Competition in Grade 3. It didn’t matter whether it was a book, an article, or a video script, he was quick to cut to the chase, saying, “It all starts with the word”.

He also played a mean harmonica, which he first picked up aged 16, inspired by Bob Dylan. He melded this talent with his wonderful writing skills, and during his illness, turned out his first music album, The Great Wall of Greenberg

Sadly, his deteriorating health meant he was unable to attend the album’s launch in September 2015. But still writing, he sent a speech.

Here is an excerpt:

“Chris Hitchens, the great English writer who died from cancer in 2011 says good things about how I feel about mortality.
I’ll paraphrase him
“To the dumb question ‘Why me?’ the universe barely bothers to return the reply- Why not?”
What is a prayer?
A desperate plea that the laws of nature be suspended. Just for you.
The person who prays thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong.
He thinks that he can instruct god on how to put them right.”

We met through academia, and instantly clicked. Rob had an amazing intellect, was fast to grasp an idea, was witty and very funny. We always made each other laugh. We encouraged each other, sometimes professionally, sometimes personally, sometimes like the two naughty kids in class who aren’t allowed to sit together.

My fondest memories of Rob are of him sitting in my office, helping himself to the large jar of jelly beans on my desk, chatting away about this or that, or as he called our verbal interludes, “putting the world right”.


On Friday afternoons, if we ran across each other on campus, despite him going “off the derech” years before, he would always call out and wish me “Gut Shabbos”. He was a true mensch. I will miss his contagious laugh, his warm smile, his amazing talent, and his good heart.

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Blog Elul 5775 4-16

Some situations are impossible to UNDERSTAND. All you can do is accept them.

Elul 5: ACCEPT
I ACCEPT means I see and acknowledge what is, it does not mean I agree or approve.

Elul 6: KNOW
If you KNOW the truth, you have self-agency and can make informed choices.

Elul 7: BE
BE that person who makes others feel special. Be known for your kindness and empathy.

Elul 8: HEAR
“Sometimes people don’t want to HEAR the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” ~ Nietzsche

Elul 9: SEE
Don’t SEE yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you.

Elul 10: COUNT
Remember to COUNT the little things, because those seemingly little things are what you miss most when they are gone.

Elul 11: TRUST
Whether it’s a friendship or relationship, all bonds are built on TRUST, without it you have nothing.

Elul 12: FORGIVE
Just because we FORGIVE someone, doesn’t mean we have to trust them again.

Days may blur, but we REMEMBER small moments with crystal clarity.

Elul 14: LEARN
“LEARN from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” ~ Einstein

Elul 15: CHANGE
“CHANGE the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.” ~ Denis Waitley

Elul 16: PRAY
“Let me not PRAY to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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Blog Elul 5775

Over the past couple of years I have joined in #BlogElul by tweeting on the topic of the day and then posting them on my blog. I thought I was reasonably well prepared for Elul this year, having my thoughts written down on the first three topics of Prepare, Act and Search, before day one. However, I did not realise how prophetic my first thought was to be.

BlogElul 1: Planning may make you feel safe and secure but some things happen in life you can’t control and can never PREPARE for.

BlogElul 2: Don’t put on an ACT or wear a mask, be who you are.

BlogElul 3: SEARCH for your own truth. Embrace it. Live by the values that are deeply right for you.

Well, as per insight number one, life got in the way of Elul this year, introspection was shoved out of the way by a need for urgent practicalities, and then held at bay by some anxious moments.

Today is Elul 23, and though things are now back on an even keel, I am not sure whether to attempt a soul searching catch up in anticipation of the High Holidays, or to just be grateful that peace and calm reign for the moment.

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