Gérard Philipe – Un Prince en Avignon

January 15, 2011
Gérard Philipe en compagnie d'Albert Camus
Gérard Philipe en compagnie d’Albert Camus


Gérard Philipe lors d'une manifestation du Parti Communiste
Gérard Philipe et son épouse Anne lors d’une manifestation du Parti communiste français
Gérard Philipe en compagnie de Jean Vilar, fondateur du Festival d'Avignon

Gérard Philipe en compagnie de Jean Vilar, fondateur du Festival d'Avignon

Il faut vieillir, ou mourir jeune. (Philibert-Joseph Roux)

Bonheur suranné à la (re)découverte de la beauté immaculée du prince du théâtre français d’après-guerre, Gérard Philipe.

Paraphrasant pour ainsi dire le destin tourmenté d’Antigone, son père était collaborateur, lui résistant, Gérard Philipe, mort en pleine gloire à 37 ans, se devait d’être inhumé drapé des oripeaux du Cid, figure éponyme qu’il restera à jamais aux yeux de ses admirateurs.

A cet égard, il va sans dire que la ballade “Il était un prince en Avignon”, interprétée par Esther Ofarim, lui est taillé sur mesure:

“Il était un prince en Avignon
Sans royaume, sans château, ni donjon
Là-bas tout au fond de la province
Il était un prince
Et l’enfant que j’étais
Cueillant pour lui bien des roses
En ce temps le bonheur était peu de chose

Il était un prince en Avignon
Sans royaume, sans château, ni donjon
Mais ses mots nous chantaient les campagnes
Des grands rois d’Espagne
Quand le soir descendait
On devenait spectateurs
Et la ville avec lui n’était plus qu’un coeur

Il nous emportait dans son empire
Nous attendrissait d’un sourire
Combien je rêvais, combien je l’aimais
Et puis vers ma ville je m’en retournais

Il était un prince en Avignon
Sans royaume, sans château, ni donjon
Là-bas tout au fond de la province
Il était un prince”

Crédits photos: avec l’aimable autorisation de la Bibliothèque nationale de France 

The Electric Don Quixote: 70th Anniversary of Frank Zappa

December 21, 2010
"Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read." (Frank Zappa, 1940-1993)
“Journalists are people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, in order to provide articles for people who can’t read.” (Frank Zappa, 1940-1993)
A Tribute by David Berger
If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you. (Oscar Wilde)

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Frank Zappa, one of the most iconoclastic character of American pop culture (beside Groucho Marx and Mel Brooks), an ironical critic of mainstream media (Thomas Pynchon did the same, but in a more incognito way; should I say a Trotzkist one, i.e. smashing the system from inside…), and a passionate advocate for freedom of speech, we reproduce his famous ballade Bobby Brown – which can be interpreted as a satirical view of established social and political processes, structures and movements (both conservative and progressive…).

Just an anecdote, but not a poor one: In early 1990 at the request of Czech President Václav Havel, a fan too, Frank Zappa went into politics, serving as a cultural attaché. Neither Right nor Left, Frank Zappa confirmed that an artist can make a difference in society without such a bullshit like ideology. Unfortunately, this promising political career was broken by his death in 1993.

A delightful sense of humor – not everybody’s taste. An incomparable flair for eclectic and provocative themes – not everybody’s talent. Actually, the great master of American surrealism or dadaism Frank Zappa wasn’t Everybody’s Darling.

Happy birthday, Frank!


Bobby Brown Lyrics

Hey there, people, I’m Bobby Brown
They say I’m the cutest boy in town
My car is fast, my teeth is shiney
I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie
Here I am at a famous school
I’m dressing sharp n im
Acting cool
I got a cheerleader here wants to help with my paper
Let her do all the work n maybe later I’ll rape her

Oh God I am the American dream
I do not think I’m too extreme
An I’m a handsome son of a bitch
I’m gonna get a good job n be real rich

(get a good
Get a good
Get a good
Get a good job)

Women’s liberation
Came creeping across the nation
I tell you people I was not ready
When I fucked this dyke by the name of Freddie
She made a little speech then,
Aw, she tried to make me say when
She had my balls in a vice, but she left the dick
I guess it’s still hooked on, but now it shoots too quick

Oh God I am the American dream
But now I smell like Vaseline
An I’m a miserable son of a bitch
Am I a boy or a lady…I don’t know which

(I wonder wonder
Wonder wonder)

So I went out n bought me a leisure suit
I jingle my change, but I’m still kinda cute
Got a job doin radio promo
An none of the jocks can even tell I’m a homo
Eventually me n a friend
Sorta drifted along into S&M
I can take about an hour on the tower of power
Long as I gets a little golden shower

Oh God I am the American dream
With a spindle up my butt till it makes me scream
An I’ll do anything to get ahead
I lay awake nights sayin, thank you, Fred!
Oh god, oh god, I’m so fantastic!
Thanks to Freddie, I’m a sexual spastic

And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down,
And my name is Bobby Brown
Watch me now, I’m goin down, etc.

Happy HANUKKAH! – The Jewish Festival of Lights

November 30, 2010

A message from Norbert Wied
CEO Carl Schurz Foundation

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, November 30, 2010

From December 1-9, 2010, Hanukkah (Chanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, will be celebrated by Jews around the world. It is an eight-day holiday that starts on the 25th of the month of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar, and continues till the 2nd of the month of Tevet.

Hanukkah commemorates the miracle that happened after the Jew’s 164 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus IV, the Greek King of Syria, had forbidden the observance of Judaism under penalty of death and had forced Jews to worship Greek gods.

After the victory, a Temple lamp has been lighted and although the lamp had oil for only one day, it stayed miraculously lit for eight days until a new supply of oil could be prepared. Hanukkah is observed by lighting one Hanukkah light of the Menorah (candelabrum) on each of the eight holiday nights, progressing to eight lights on the final night of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah festivities include games (especially Dreidel), gift-giving to children and gathering for enjoying traditional foods. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday and its religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance. On the other hand, Hanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays because of its proximity to Christmas. Some orthodox groups criticize the adoption of many Christmas customs, such as gift-giving and decoration, making Hanukkah the most secular holiday of the Jewish calendar.

Hanukkah began to find new expression in the years leading up to the founding of the modern state of Israel and has developed into a holiday rich with historical significance, physical and supernatural miracle narratives, and a dialogue with Jewish history.

I wish all Jews around the world: CHAG CHANUKKAH SAMEACH!

♪♫ “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!” – A traditional Hanukkah song,  sung by Theodore Bikel, first in Yiddish, then in English, then in Hebrew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxH0xF84h_0

♪♫ “Ma’oz Tzur” – a Jewish liturgical poem or piyyut. It is written in Hebrew, and is often sung on the holiday of Hanukkah, after lighting the festival lights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7U1CHqe9eg

♪♫ “Mi Yimalel” (Who can retell) – A traditional Hanukkah song here performed by Craig Taubman, The Tribe & Alberto Mizzahi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPUUjmn_Wk0

♪♫ “Lich’vod Hachanukkah” – by Chaim Nachman Bialik, a traditional Chanukah song sung by THE WESTERN WIND and Fran Avni: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FbooXzSiQk

The Meaning of Hiram in Freemasonry and Judaism

November 27, 2010

Forever Faithful and Forthright, We Pledge Ourselves to Guard The Light. (The Magic Flute, Mozart)

All men are equal; it is not their birth, but virtue itself that makes the difference. (Voltaire)

It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right. (Winston Churchill)



Hiram Abiff & the ever-dying gods

by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, Emeritus Rabbi of the Great Synagoge, Sydney. Past Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

This paper was delivered at the Discovery Lodge of Research, Sydney, on January 27, 2010.


In the third degree ritual the central feature is the death and upraising of Hiram Abiff. It brings solemnity and drama into the occasion, though our version lacks the theatricality of some other rites which use costumes and elaborate dialogue. All versions believe it is a true story that happened at the time when Solomon constructed the Temple in Jerusalem, but those who look for Biblical backing are bound to be disappointed.

In an article I wrote for the “NSW Freemason” in 1978 I examined the view of W. Bro. Rev. Morris Rosenbaum concerning the Biblical account as found – with intriguing differences – in the First Books of Kings and the Second Book of Chronicles. The relevant chapters are I Kings 5, where Solomon asks his friend Hiram king of Tyre for building materials; and II Chronicles 2, where he asks him also for an expert artisan. Both passages feature a – non-royal – Hiram, who in one account appears to be an architect-craftsman and in the other an artisan skilled in working with brass. Both are called Hiram in tribute to the king: it is possible that Hiram was a generic name for a king of Tyre, like the title Pharaoh for a king of Egypt.

Rosenbaum thought there were two separate Hirams. The Hiram of the Book of Kings is the son of “a widow of the tribe of Naphtali”: the one in Chronicles is the son of “a woman of the daughters of Dan”. If there are two Hirams the mother of one is from Naphtali and the mother of the second from Dan; if there is only one, which I will argue in a moment, his father is from Naphtali and his mother from Dan. The connection with Tyre is more than geographic co-incidence, since there was a Tyrian school of craftsmanship and Solomon wanted to use Tyrian expertise.

Next problem: if Hiram (or at least one of them) is the son of a widow, his father is dead. II Chronicles mentions Hiram aviv, “Hiram his father”. Maybe Hiram the father started the work and Hiram the son completed it. This is the view of the 19th century commentator Malbim, who quotes I Kings 7:40 and II Chron. 4:11, though Malbim may have been influenced by the Masonic legend that Hiram was murdered; when I Kings 7:13 says that Solomon “sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre” it may mean that an escort was sent to bring the younger Hiram to Jerusalem to finish his father’s work.

This in outline is Rosenbaum’s theory, but I believe he has read too much into the scriptural account. The Books of Chronicles are not always objective history and it is possible that we have not two Hirams but two versions of the one narrative with slight differences between them.

If then there was only one Hiram, how are we to handle the reference to “Hiram his father”, with its implication that father and son were both involved in the work? The answer is that av, a father, does not necessarily mean a parent. It can also be an originator or master. Hence the title “Hiram Abif(f)” tells us of Hiram’s professional status as a master craftsman, not about his parentage. Even so, there is no objective evidence that one Hiram dropped out and another replaced him. It is more likely that there was only one Hiram and the Bible does not record his eventual fate.

For that we have to go to legend. In a moment we will examine the Masonic version, but first we need to know whether Jewish Midrash knows of a murder during the building works and whether the victim could have been Hiram. There are Midrashim (e.g. Pesikta Rabbati, Friedmann ed., 1880, p. 25a) which hold that some of the builders met an unusual death, but Freemasonry compresses the tragedy into the death of one builder, the foreman, and though the midrashic material speaks of the dead men entering the afterlife, Freemasonry thinks the foreman was restored to earthly existence, though it is silent as to his subsequent life.

The Midrash asserts that whilst the Temple was being built none of the workmen died or even became ill, enabling the project to proceed apace – presumably illustrating the principle that God protects those who are engaged on a sacred mission (Talmud Pesachim 8a). However, once the project was completed, they all died, for God wished to prevent heathens using the Temple builders to erect idolatrous shrines, illustrating the rule that one must ascend in sanctity and not descend (Talmud B’rachot 28a). The builders were assured of a rich heavenly reward, and as for Hiram the master craftsman himself, he went straight to Paradise and never tasted real death (Louis Ginzberg, “Legends of the Jews”, vol. 4, page 155 and notes).

There is a midrashic idea that nine people did not die in the usual way but entered Paradise alive. These included Enoch and Elijah… and Hiram king of Tyre (Derech Eretz Zuta 1:9; Yalkut, Gen. 42 and Ezek. 36:7).

The commentators debate whether Hiram really deserves a place in the list, but in any case the reference must be to Hiram the craftsman and not Hiram the king. The formulators of Masonic ritual possibly knew enough Hebrew to access rabbinic works, but they totally changed the Midrash to make Hiram die a very earthly death at the hands of the other workmen and then rise from the dead. They must have been influenced by Christian tradition about the death of Jesus, though they were careful not to turn the story into an antisemitic canard. However, we should not read too much theology into the Masonic story, which probably has contemporary political motives.

If the story as we have it has been deliberately crafted (I dislike the stronger term “fabricated”) with a basis in the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish Midrash, we must still investigate whether there are additional sources from other cultures. But first we have to add one more attempt, over and above those of countless historians, to posit a theory of Masonic beginnings.

There are three main historical theories about Masonry. One begins at the time of Creation with God as Great Architect, Grand Geometrician and Master Builder, Adam as the first Grand Master, and Masonry as a thread running through ancient history. The second does not make claims about Biblical times but posits a fellowship of builders working on the great edifices of the Middle Ages. The third sees Enlightenment man creating cultural-scientific societies to study ideas and ethics and giving them a pre-history, a well-known habit developed in the interests of credibility.

The third theory is bound up with 17th and 18th century events. The Stuarts ruled England from 1643-1688, except for 1649-1660 after Charles I had been executed by Parliament under Oliver Cromwell. The last Stuart, James II, had to abdicate in 1688. After the Hanoverian George I assumed the monarchy in 1714, the Stuarts mounted invasions in 1715 and 1745 via Scotland but failed to win back the throne. They lived in exile in France with support from some quarters in England. They were called “Jacobites”, from the Latin (and prior to that the Hebrew) for “James”. Some Jacobites were Masons, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, the grandson of James II; some French and Italian lodges were entirely comprised of Jacobites, who may have adopted or invented Hiram Abiff to represent the executed Charles I and to express their belief in the restoration of the Stuarts.

Plans for the return of the Stuarts were made in secret vaults which may have been Masonic lodges. HA’s refusal to divulge a secret bolstered the pledges of confidentiality which these Brothers made to each other. This theory implies that Jacobite influences were involved in the development of Masonic ritual, which was the combination of the ideas and efforts of a number of men, notably Anderson, Desaguliers and Preston, though they might have been kept in the dark about the hidden agenda of Jacobite lodges.

Hiram’s name was not new to the authors of the third degree since he is referred as the master artisan in the Regius Poem of c 1390. The first time we find the Hiram legend in a degree ritual is in the 1730 pamphlet, Freemasonry Dissected, by Samuel Prichard, though there was a rival attempt to give Freemasonry a death/resurrection story in the narrative of Noah and his sons (Graham MS, 1726; cf. Harry Carr, “Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual”, Ars Quatuor Coronatum, vol. 97, 1984, page 77).

Hiram Abiff conveyed the message better because the Noah story lacked betrayal, violence, martyrdom and revenge, even though there was a theory that his sons put his body together again after he died. Hence HA supplanted Noah and settled into the newly created third degree.

The idea of Hiram as Charles I might derive from Elias Ashmole (1617-92), the antiquarian, lawyer and alchemist who is the first (or second) known Speculative Freemason, initiated in 1646. Ashmole (like other early Speculatives, Robert Moray, Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone) was a Royalist and a supporter of Charles II, and his lodge may have practised Masonic ritual with a Royalist meaning. However, we do not know enough about the ways of early Speculative lodges and can only conjecture.

C.S. Madhavan of the Grand Lodge of India notes that a drastic change entered Freemasonry between the first and second editions of Anderson’s Constitutions. In the first edition in 1723 we read only that “The king of Tyre sent (Solomon) his namesake Hiram Abif, ‘prince of architects’”. The second edition in 1738 speaks of the sudden death of Hiram Abiff who was interred “in the Lodge near the Temple”. The new wording shows that the displacement of Noah by HA had taken place between 1723 and 1738.

The change must have had something to do with Prichard, whose work was published in 1730, but we need more than circumstantial evidence. English Masons would presumably have welcomed the general idea of a good man who died and rose again and would have been on familiar territory in linking royal history with poetic symbolism in view of the well-loved legends of King Arthur, the symbol of chivalry and idealism, about whom Tennyson later wrote, “He passes to be King among the dead/And after healing of his grievous wound/He comes again” (Idylls of the King, 1859).

The Hiram Abiff story was not concocted out of thin air. On the other hand no-one has found any proof that there really was a Hiram Abiff who was murdered on the Temple site and then brought back to life by his supporters. Nor has anyone proved that there was an Israelite custom to pray at “high twelve”, to bury a person in proximity to the Temple, or to place an acacia sprig on a grave. There is also no proof that the real Hiram (unless he was the king of Tyre) was on close terms with King Solomon.

HA is a cultural typology developed at and reflecting the mores of a later time. Its lineage appears to have travelled through two disparate lines:
• the well known concept of gods and messiahs that die and overcome their death (examples are Osiris, Isis, Horus and Tammuz), an idea that appealed to members of secret or other societies who saw true believers martyred but the cause survive;
• widespread accounts of disasters that occurred during the building of churches, palaces and other major edifices.

The first idea has a modern equivalent in Nietzsche’s Death of God theory, plus the religious insistence that God will make a comeback. In Jewish thinking the Death of God is inconceivable, since it is an article of faith that God was not born and cannot die (“I am the first and I am the last”: Isa. 44:6), though in a metaphorical sense it could possibly tolerate the Nietzschean notion that human beings had “killed” Him. Christianity might be thought of as receptive to a Hiram Abiff narrative as consonant with the history of Jesus. However, it is difficult to reconcile a pro-Christian interpretation with the Andersonian dechristianisation of Masonic ritual, though there is admittedly a more Christian element in the Royal Arch.

Whatever the case, it is likely that this is one more example of how Masonry utilised well-known strands of folklore to construct its narratives and rituals, often starting with sketchy Biblical material but adding so much from other sources that it almost completely changed the original story. Other examples are the stories about King Solomon and the dedication of his temple, which, though crucial to the craft, should not be taken literally but understood as an amalgam of folk ideas and literary imagination.

All Masonic writers attach symbolic significance to the HA story, regardless of its origins and political significance. A popular interpretation links it to the three stages of life; as the first degree symbolises birth, when one begins to glimpse light, the second stands for manhood, when one toils toward wisdom and experience, and the third represents old age, when human powers gradually wane but one yearns for a life after death.

Perhaps Anderson and Desaguliers, unaware of or unconvinced by Jacobite political theories, decided to incorporate HA into the third degree because the death/resurrection theme appealed to them as Christians. In 1775 William Hutchinson wrote in his Spirit of Masonry, “The Master Mason represents a man under the Christian doctrine, saved from the grave of iniquity, and raised to the faith of salvation”. The dechristianisation of the craft must inevitably have been difficult for some Masons.

However, with or without christological issues the narrative illustrates and justifies the doctrine that goodness must and will prevail over doubt and difficulty, and is evidence of the common phenomenon whereby a custom or story loses its original significance, undergoes reinterpretation and rationalisation, and gains a new message and mission.


Raymond Apple, “Who was Hiram Abiff?”, The NSW Freemason, Dec., 1978
Harry Carr, “Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual”, Ars Quatuor Coronatum, vol. 97, 1984
W.W. Covey-Crump, The Hiramic Tradition, 1934
Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, various eds., vol. 4
R.F. Gould, History of Freemasonry, 5 vols., 1905
W.B. Hextall, “The Hiramic Legend and the Ashmolean Theory”, Transactions of the Leicester Lodge of Research, 1903-04
Bernard E. Jones, Freemason’s Guide and Compendium, 1950
Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto, 1978
C.S. Madhavan, “The Hiramic Legend” (http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com)
Alexander Piatigorsky, Who’s Afraid of Freemasons?, 1997
Morris Rosenbaum, “Hiram Abif: The Traditional History Illustrated by the Volume of the Sacred Law”, Transactions of the Leicester Lodge of Research, 1903-04
Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, 1974

 Copyright © 2010 Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple & HIRAM7 REVIEW

The Legacy of Niccolò Machiavelli: The Common Sense in Politics

October 15, 2010

„The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.“ Niccolò Machiavelli

„Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.” Hannah Arendt

Historians Hannah Holborn Gray, Roger D. Masters, Mark Musa, Robert Hariman, Henry Kissinger, Gary Hart and Donald Kagan recalled Niccolò Machiavelli, the founder of modern politics.

Historian Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513)

Französische Philosophin Élisabeth Badinter: “Der Ökofeminismus ist reaktionär”.

September 27, 2010

Der Feminismus sieht überall nur Opfer. Das Opfer ist der grosse Held unserer Gesellschaft geworden. Wer in der Politik oder sonst wo etwas erreichen will, muss heute als Opfer auftreten, erst dann wird er gehört und geachtet. Die Feministinnen haben diesen Stimmungswechsel schnell kapiert und präsentieren Frauen unter allen möglichen Gesichtspunkten permanent als Opfer – Opfer der Männer, der Arbeitswelt, der Politik – kurz: als hilflose Wesen, die immer öfter beim Gericht Zuflucht suchen wie Kinder bei Papa und Mama. Aus den Frauen werden Kind-Frauen gemacht. (Philosophin, Frauenrechtlerin und Hochschulprofessorin Élisabeth Badinter, dreifache Mutter, Aufsichtsratspräsidentin des Medienkonzerns Publicis Groupe, Interview Die Weltwoche, 13/04)

Élisabeth Badinter
Élisabeth Badinter

In einem Gespräch erschienen in der WELT AM SONNTAG kommentiert die stets brillante Élisabeth Badinter die Kinder- und Frauenfeindlichkeit der grünen Ideologie bzw. Öko-Bewegung. Nach dem Willen der Ökofeministen ist die Lösung ganz einfach: Familie, Kinder und Karriere verweigern…der Umwelt zuliebe. Für das Wohl der Frauen interessieren sich diese Feministen in keiner Weise, da sie selbst weder kinderlieb noch frauenfreundlich sind.

[Intermezzo: Françoise Hardy, eine echte Frau – kein hasserfülltes kinderloses hässliches Gestalt à la Alice Schwarzer]

“Diese ganze Ideologie der Ökoradikalen, die auch verlangen, dass man Windeln nicht wegwirft, sondern wäscht, lastet schwer auf den Frauen. Ich war schockiert, als unsere ehemalige Umweltministerin – selbst Mutter von zwei kleinen Kindern – eine Strafsteuer auf Wegwerfwindeln verlangte. Das bedeutet, dass die Anliegen der Frauen hinter jenen der Natur zurückzutreten haben. Zwischen der Verteidigung der Rechte der Natur und der Verteidigung der Rechte der Frauen entscheide ich mich aber für Letzteres.” […]

Dieser ‘Zurück zur Natur’-Feminismus hält sich für die Avantgarde. In Wirklichkeit ist er aber reaktionär. Da die Ökofeministen auf komplette Fusion mit ihren Kindern eingestellt sind und sie den ganzen Tag in diesen schrecklichen Umhängetüchern herumtragen, haben sie die Männer aus der Verantwortung entlassen; so konnten diese ihr altes, traditionalistisches Verhalten wieder aufnehmen.”

Vollständiges Gespräch lesen.

Celebrating the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot

September 24, 2010
The festival of Sukkot (September 22 till September 29, 2010), the nine-day festival also known as Chag’ha Succot, the “Feast of Booths” (or Tabernacles), is named for the huts (sukkah) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land.
Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), at the Jewish Museum, New York

Moses and Joshua in the Tabernacle, by Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), at the Jewish Museum, New York

Adonai says: “Chazak ve’ematz — Be strong and resolute; do not be terrified or dismayed, for the Eternal, Adonai, is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). This custom developed over the course of Jewish history connected with Adonai’s first revelation to Joshua after the death of Moses.

Three times at the conclusion of a book of Torah, we tell one another to be strong: Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek — Be strong, be strong, and together we will be strengthened.

Die “Endlösung der Judenfrage” in Frankreich: Razzia der Pariser Winter-Radrennbahn (1942)

July 17, 2010

Daß die Juden, wenn sie wollten – oder, wenn man sie dazu zwänge, wie es die Antisemiten zu wollen scheinen –, jetzt schon das Übergewicht, ja ganz wörtlich die Herrschaft über Europa haben könnten, steht fest; daß sie nicht darauf hinarbeiten und Pläne machen, ebenfalls. Einstweilen wollen und wünschen sie vielmehr, sogar mit einiger Zudringlichkeit, in Europa, von Europa ein- und aufgesaugt zu werden, sie dürsten darnach, endlich irgendwo fest, erlaubt, geachtet zu sein und dem Nomadenleben, dem ‘ewigen Juden’ ein Ziel zu setzen –; und man sollte diesen Zug und Drang wohl beachten und ihm entgegenkommen. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Als Rafle du Vélodrome d’Hiver (frz. Razzia der Winter-Radrennbahn) wird die am 16. und 17. Juli 1942 in Paris durchgeführte Massenfestnahme durch die französische Polizei (auf Anordnung des Generalsekretärs der Polizei des Vichy-Regimes René Bousquet – der nach dem Krieg eine steile Karriere machte und leider 1993 erschossen wurde, bevor man ihn den Prozess machen konnte) und darauf folgende Deportation von 13.000 französischen Juden, darunter über 4.000 Kinder, in die Gaskammern nach Auschwitz bezeichnet.

Die aktive Beteiligung der französischen Vichy-Regierung sowie französischer Polizeibeamter – ohne ausdrücklichen Befehl der nationalsozialistischen Besatzungsmacht – an diesem Verbrechen war jahrzehntelang ein Tabu in Frankreich.

Am 16. Juli 1995 entschuldigte sich der französische Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac öffentlich im Namen der französischen Republik

Am 16. Juli 1995 entschuldigte sich Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac öffentlich im Namen der französischen Republik.

 “Von diesem Moment an konnte man beginnen, echte Fragen zu stellen, wurde den Opfern der Opfer-Status zuerkannt. Erst dann konnte die Arbeit der Erinnerung, der historischen Auseinandersetzung und die Trauerarbeit der jüdischen Familien wirklich beginnen. Ich nenne das eine „Befriedung“. Denn seit der Erklärung des Staatspräsidenten Jacques Chirac fühlen sich viele Juden mit ihrer Geschichte versöhnt, mit der Geschichte ihres Landes, des Landes, in dem sie leben.”, bemerkte Jacques Fredj, Direktor des Mémorial de la Shoah, ein Gedenk-, Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum zur Geschichte des Holocaust.

Jacques Chirac & Simone Veil vor der Mauer der Namen in Paris

Jacques Chirac mit der französischen Politikerin, einstigen Präsidentin des Europäischen Parlamentes und Auschwitz-Überlebende Simone Veil vor dem Pariser Denkmal Mur des Noms (Mauer der Namen)


Am 16. Juli 1995, hielt der französische Staatspräsident Jacques Chirac eine sehr bewegende Rede, in der er auf die Verstrickungen des französischen Staates in dieses Verbrechen einging.

Rede des französischen Staatspräsidenten Jacques Chirac

Monsieur le Maire,

Monsieur le Président,

Monsieur l’Ambassadeur,

Monsieur le Grand Rabbin,

Mesdames, Messieurs,

Il est, dans la vie d’une nation, des moments qui blessent la mémoire, et l’idée que l’on se fait de son pays.

Ces moments, il est difficile de les évoquer, parce que l’on ne sait pas toujours trouver les mots justes pour rappeler l’horreur, pour dire le chagrin de celles et ceux qui ont vécu la tragédie. Celles et ceux qui sont marqués à jamais dans leur âme et dans leur chair par le souvenir de ces journées de larmes et de honte.

Il est difficile de les évoquer, aussi, parce que ces heures noires souillent à jamais notre histoire, et sont une injure à notre passé et à nos traditions. Oui, la folie criminelle de l’occupant a été secondée par des Français, par l’Etat français.

Il y a cinquante-trois ans, le 16 juillet 1942, 450 policiers et gendarmes français, sous l’autorité de leurs chefs, répondaient aux exigences des nazis.

Ce jour-là, dans la capitale et en région parisienne, près de dix mille hommes, femmes et enfants juifs furent arrêtés à leur domicile, au petit matin, et rassemblés dans les commissariats de police.

On verra des scènes atroces: les familles déchirées, les mères séparées de leurs enfants, les vieillards – dont certains, anciens combattants de la Grande Guerre, avaient versé leur sang pour la France – jetés sans ménagement dans les bus parisiens et les fourgons de la Préfecture de Police.

On verra, aussi, des policiers fermer les yeux, permettant ainsi quelques évasions.

Pour toutes ces personnes arrêtées, commence alors le long et douloureux voyage vers l’enfer. Combien d’entre-elles ne reverront jamais leur foyer? Et combien, à cet instant, se sont senties trahies? Quelle a été leur détresse?

La France, patrie des Lumières et des Droits de l’Homme, terre d’accueil et d’asile, la France, ce jour-là, accomplissait l’irréparable. Manquant à sa parole, elle livrait ses protégés à leurs bourreaux.

Conduites au Vélodrome d’hiver, les victimes devaient attendre plusieurs jours, dans les conditions terribles que l’on sait, d’être dirigées sur l’un des camps de transit – Pithiviers ou Beaune-la-Rolande – ouverts par les autorités de Vichy.

L’horreur, pourtant, ne faisait que commencer.

Suivront d’autres rafles, d’autres arrestations. A Paris et en province. Soixante-quatorze trains partiront vers Auschwitz. Soixante-seize mille déportés juifs de France n’en reviendront pas.

Nous conservons à leur égard une dette imprescriptible.

La Thora fait à chaque juif devoir de se souvenir. Une phrase revient toujours qui dit: “N’oublie jamais que tu as été un étranger et un esclave en terre de Pharaon”.

Cinquante ans après, fidèle à sa loi, mais sans esprit de haine ou de vengeance, la Communauté juive se souvient, et toute la France avec elle. Pour que vivent les six millions de martyrs de la Shoah. Pour que de telles atrocités ne se reproduisent jamais plus. Pour que le sang de l’holocauste devienne, selon le mot de Samuel Pisar, le “sang de l’espoir”.

Quand souffle l’esprit de haine, avivé ici par les intégrismes, alimenté là par la peur et l’exclusion. Quand à nos portes, ici même, certains groupuscules, certaines publications, certains enseignements, certains partis politiques se révèlent porteurs, de manière plus ou moins ouverte, d’une idéologie raciste et antisémite, alors cet esprit de vigilance qui vous anime, qui nous anime, doit se manifester avec plus de force que jamais.

En la matière, rien n’est insignifiant, rien n’est banal, rien n’est dissociable. Les crimes racistes, la défense de thèses révisionnistes, les provocations en tout genre – les petites phrases, les bons mots – puisent aux mêmes sources.

Transmettre la mémoire du peuple juif, des souffrances et des camps. Témoigner encore et encore. Reconnaître les fautes du passé, et les fautes commises par l’Etat. Ne rien occulter des heures sombres de notre Histoire, c’est tout simplement défendre une idée de l’Homme, de sa liberté et de sa dignité. C’est lutter contre les forces obscures, sans cesse à l’oeuvre.

Cet incessant combat est le mien autant qu’il est le vôtre.

Les plus jeunes d’entre nous, j’en suis heureux, sont sensibles à tout ce qui se rapporte à la Shoah. Ils veulent savoir. Et avec eux, désormais, de plus en plus de Français décidés à regarder bien en face leur passé.

La France, nous le savons tous, n’est nullement un pays antisémite.

En cet instant de recueillement et de souvenir, je veux faire le choix de l’espoir.

Je veux me souvenir que cet été 1942, qui révèle le vrai visage de la “collaboration”, dont le caractère raciste, après les lois anti-juives de 1940, ne fait plus de doute, sera, pour beaucoup de nos compatriotes, celui du sursaut, le point de départ d’un vaste mouvement de résistance.

Je veux me souvenir de toutes les familles juives traquées, soustraites aux recherches impitoyables de l’occupant et de la milice, par l’action héroïque et fraternelle de nombreuses familles françaises.

J’aime à penser qu’un mois plus tôt, à Bir Hakeim, les Français libres de Koenig avaient héroïquement tenu, deux semaines durant, face aux divisions allemandes et italiennes.

Certes, il y a les erreurs commises, il y a les fautes, il y a une faute collective. Mais il y a aussi la France, une certaine idée de la France, droite, généreuse, fidèle à ses traditions, à son génie. Cette France n’a jamais été à Vichy. Elle n’est plus, et depuis longtemps, à Paris. Elle est dans les sables libyens et partout où se battent des Français libres. Elle est à Londres, incarnée par le Général de Gaulle. Elle est présente, une et indivisible, dans le coeur de ces Français, ces “Justes parmi les nations” qui, au plus noir de la tourmente, en sauvant au péril de leur vie, comme l’écrit Serge Klarsfeld, les trois-quarts de la communauté juive résidant en France, ont donné vie à ce qu’elle a de meilleur. Les valeurs humanistes, les valeurs de liberté, de justice, de tolérance qui fondent l’identité française et nous obligent pour l’avenir.

Ces valeurs, celles qui fondent nos démocraties, sont aujourd’hui bafouées en Europe même, sous nos yeux, par les adeptes de la “purification ethnique”. Sachons tirer les leçons de l’Histoire. N’acceptons pas d’être les témoins passifs, ou les complices, de l’inacceptable.

C’est le sens de l’appel que j’ai lancé à nos principaux partenaires, à Londres, à Washington, à Bonn. Si nous le voulons, ensemble nous pouvons donner un coup d’arrêt à une entreprise qui détruit nos valeurs et qui, de proche en proche risque de menacer l’Europe tout entière.

Independence Day: July 4, 1776

July 4, 2010

John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

         Live free or Die! The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies‘ separation from the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Constitution provides the legal and governmental framework for the United States of America, with its assertion “all Men are created equal”.

The political philosophy of the Declaration with its ideals of individual liberty had been expressed by English philosopher John Locke. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty.

Here, in unforgettable words, Thomas Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence:

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts: John Hancock

Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple

Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton

Anna Karina – The Look

May 1, 2010

Anna KarinaDanish actress of the French New Wave. Arguably the Audrey Hepburn of her day – elegant and a free spirit.

Danish Actress Anna Karina

Danish Actress Anna Karina

If you’ve never seen a Karina’s film we would suggest Une Femme est Une Femme (A Woman is a Woman) from 1961. Great film, great clothes; written and directed by Karina’s then husband Jean-Luc Godard…with also the great master Jean-Paul Belmondo.

The Making of Barack Obama: Honolulu, Harvard, and Hyde Park

May 1, 2010

Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great. (Niccolo Machiavelli)

David Remnick,   editor of The New Yorker, delivers with The Bridge fresh insights about Barack Obama’s personal and political odyssey – particularly when it comes to understanding the degree to which Obama is a product of New England’s commitment to social and global reform.

A Book Review by Walter Russell Mead 

Barack Obama’s appeal has always been something of a paradox. On the one hand, Obama’s election as the United States‘ first African American president can be seen as a triumph for “identity politics” and a blow to the near hammerlock that white Protestant males have had on the presidency since George Washington.

On the other hand, it moves the country closer to an era of nonracial or postracial politics, in which racial identity will matter less and less.

Obama is a clear break from past generations of black politicians. In the parlance of the civil rights movement, he is a member of “the Joshua generation” — a term drawn from the Bible that refers to the generation of Jews who did not remember the Exodus but lived to enter the Promised Land. And he has embraced a very different political style from those of other black politicians, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. With a white mother and a Kenyan father who lived in the United States only briefly, Obama had little personal connection to the forces and history that shape African American identity. Growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, two places where black-white relations were a marginal and distant force, young Barry Obama’s life was touched only tangentially by race. From this start, Obama emerged as the most commanding figure in African American politics ever and was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Who is Obama? What does he really believe? How has his quest to find and understand his place in American life shaped him and his vision for the United States? These are the questions that David Remnick, the author of Lenin’s Tomb and the editor of The New Yorker, sets out to investigate in The Bridge, an intelligent and searching biography of Obama. Although he covers ground that has already been examined by other writers (most notably, Obama himself), Remnick nevertheless manages to frame important questions about the current occupant of the Oval Office. The Bridge is a significant accomplishment and a compelling read. At its best, it illuminates some very dark corners.

The book is not always at its best. Most readers will feel that Remnick spends entirely too much time on detailed accounts of the ultimately irrelevant candidates who tried and failed to stop Obama’s march to the Senate in 2004. Instead, Remnick should have put his intelligence to work on the mostly white world of liberal Hyde Park activism, which had a profound effect on Obama during his years in Chicago. This is a regrettable oversight, since, as Remnick’s narrative makes clear, white (and often Jewish) friends and associates formed a critical part of Obama’s network. Remnick has a gift for laying bare the cultural and intellectual forces at work in a person or a milieu; had he turned that searchlight on Hyde Park, he would have produced a much richer account of the president’s intellectual and political journey.

When it comes to the world of black Chicago, Remnick gets closer to the story. His portrait of Representative Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther who defeated Obama in a congressional primary, is particularly sharp; his take on Jeremiah Wright, the spellbinding preacher who built the church in which Obama found his faith, although good, leaves readers wanting more. The book’s dominant metaphor is a bridge — Remnick compares Obama’s role in society to the bridge in Selma, Alabama, that was the site of one of the most significant struggles of the civil rights movement — and to some degree, the image closes as many doors as it opens. The image is a compelling one, but African American politics, religion, and culture are about much more than civil rights. By scanting this complexity, Remnick leaves readers with a less than totally satisfying depiction of Obama’s encounter with the world of black Chicago.


Nevertheless, Remnick delivers some fresh insights about the president’s personal and political odyssey that open up new perspectives on American society as a whole — particularly when it comes to understanding the degree to which Obama is a product of New England’s commitment to social and global reform. The Bostonian vision of the United States as “a city on a hill,” whose government is the moral agent of a society of good people determined to suppress vice and establish virtue, has fueled some of the country’s most important and lasting social movements, and it is this tradition that seems to have shaped Obama most profoundly.

The high school that Obama attended in Hawaii, the elite Punahou School, was founded in 1841 to educate the children of the New England missionaries who led the kingdom of Hawaii into both Christianity and the United States. In 1851, it was opened up to students from all racial and religious backgrounds, and today, like any good New England boarding school, it attempts to infuse its students with an ethic of service, along with solid academic skills. This Exeter of the Pacific did more than give Obama the academic skills he would need at Columbia and Harvard Law School; socially and culturally, it helped prepare him for both the ideas and the people among whom his lot was to be cast.

At its best, the tradition of New England reform, with its moral earnestness and its willingness to call on the full powers of a strong state, is a nonracial or postracial vision. Punahou’s 1851 decision to open its doors to nonwhite and non-Christian students reflected more than the missionary ambitions of its founders; it represented the New England faith in the essential equality, and even similarity, of all people under the skin.

That same faith led more modern representatives of the New England spirit to promote the admission of increasing numbers of nonelite and nonwhite students to schools like Punahou and Harvard Law. But the goal of these powerful establishment reformers was less the celebration of diversity than its abolition. That is, just as the missionaries believed that given Christian values and education, the Sandwich Islanders would build their own version of a New England commonwealth, so modern reformers have believed that giving African Americans, Roman Catholics, and other formerly marginalized Americans greater access to better education would ultimately lead them to embrace New England’s core values.

This seems to have worked in Obama’s case. Just as President John F. Kennedy, the Harvard-educated scion of Boston Irish-ward politicians, out-WASPed the WASPs by placing himself firmly in the line of high New England moral and political leadership, so Obama has used his eloquence and conviction to emerge as the leading representative of this old and deeply American political tradition. Yet the perception among some Chicagoans that if pressed, Obama would say, like the narrator of the famous William Blake poem, “I am black, but O, my soul is white!” nearly ended his political career in 2000, when Rush humiliated him in a congressional race.

For Obama to emerge as a postracial candidate, he first had to become racial; he had to find a way to become culturally black. The quest to connect with African American history, culture, and values shaped much of his personal and political activity from adolescence through 2006. Remnick does a better job with this aspect of Obama’s development than many writers because he grounds much of his story in Obama’s struggle to find his place in black America. And for a white writer, he gives an unusually detailed and nuanced portrait of the intellectual and political world in which Obama had to find his way.

More would have been better. In particular, readers would have benefited from a fuller and richer treatment of Wright. He represents the road that Obama ultimately chose not to take: Wright’s Afrocentric theology and impassioned black nationalist rhetoric offered a competing vision with which Obama had to come to terms to find his place in black Chicago — but that could never adequately express either the hopes or the vision that Obama brought with him from Hawaii and Harvard. Forced to choose between the spirit and legacy of New England reform as embodied in the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes and McGeorge Bundy on the one hand and the Afrocentric vision of Wright on the other, Obama stands with Massachusetts every time.


The path Obama had to navigate as he built an identity and found friends and allies within the world of Chicago’s African American politics was a winding one. Remnick moves rather too quickly along it, but he does help readers appreciate the magnitude and difficulty of Obama’s progress. Although the circumstances of Obama’s need to connect his cosmopolitan upbringing and education with the hopes and fears of a particular community of voters were unique, the task is common. The U.S. educational system is largely deracinating: it aims to do more than take the boy out of Iowa; it wants to take the Iowa out of the boy. For those graduates who seek a career in electoral politics, the process must be reversed.

Returning to Arkansas after his years as a Rhodes scholar and Yale law student, Bill Clinton, the great chameleon of modern American political history, had to reconnect with an American vernacular. George W. Bush had to navigate the transition from Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School back to the pork rinds of Texas. The declining political fortunes of the Kennedy dynasty seem connected to the way that each succeeding generation has been more Harvard and less South Boston; by contrast, each generation of the Bush clan has moved further away from its blue-blooded, bluenosed Connecticut roots toward a more total immersion in rising American subcultures.

Given the unique and uniquely charged history of black America, African American politicians face tougher challenges than their white, Latino, and Asian peers. The loyalties are deeper, the suspicions on all sides greater, the questions to be addressed more explosive. Obama’s success in finding a path through these obstacles and developing a political stance and style that has attracted both black and white voters to his side reveals a powerful intellect linked to a capacity for empathy and a receptiveness to others that recalls both Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

Reflecting on Obama’s path from Harvard Law to the South Side of Chicago also helps one understand the limits of his political appeal. Learning to integrate his New England value system into a public persona that could reach Chicago’s black voters gave Obama a potent and even mythic political appeal, but it also left him with a weak suit: the folks out in the hills clinging to their God and their guns. For many Americans, the New England vision of a strong state acting as the enforcer of a common moral purpose has always been something to resist. Jeffersonian and Jacksonian radicals fought to abolish the state establishment of religion in Connecticut and Massachusetts, the South fought the abolitionists and then the Freedmen’s Bureau during Reconstruction, the white working-class South and North united in defiance of Prohibition, and so on.

Obama’s effect on this populist tradition is like that of a red flag on a bull. As a New England reformer building a larger, more intrusive state, and as the most prominent beneficiary of New England’s determination to broaden access to its most elite institutions, Obama represents forces that many populists instinctively oppose. At the same time, nothing in Honolulu or Cambridge or Chicago taught Obama what Clinton learned in Arkansas: how to reach out to these people and to know what, and what not, to say to them. The economic crisis of 2008 and the country’s unhappiness with the Bush administration gave Obama an opportunity to be heard by populist voters; since his inauguration, they have shown signs of retreating to their former loyalties and ideas. Obama’s hopes for reelection in 2012 may turn on his ability to bridge yet another divide in America’s soul and to reach out to a constituency that so far has proved resistant to his charms.


Students of foreign policy will be bemused and somewhat alarmed by the near-total absence of evidence in Remnick’s book that Obama ever showed any interest in foreign policy before running for president. There is a casual mention of the human rights scholar Samantha Power as an adviser to and influence on Obama, and there are narrative descriptions of Obama’s sojourns abroad with his mother and a fascinating account of his father’s troubled career in Kenya. But to judge from this book, Obama spent little time dealing with foreign policy until he failed to get the Senate committee assignment he really wanted and was forced to make the best of an appointment to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. While traveling with Senator John Kerry and others in 2005, Obama saw the poor security surrounding Russian nuclear materials and was seized by the importance of getting the world’s nuclear material under better control. This is a worthwhile idea, and it bore fruit at the recent Nuclear Security Summit, but one looks in The Bridge in vain for more clues to the future of U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration.

It seems reasonable to infer that Obama’s foreign policy instincts, like his domestic policy ideas, are rooted in the New England tradition that blends a form of moralism tempered by pragmatism, a faith in strong government, and a commitment to leading by example. One could look to John Quincy Adams for an example of the foreign policy ideas to which Obama might aspire. Like Adams, Obama believes in American power and in an American destiny to do well by doing good; yet also like Adams, he prefers to hold power in reserve when he can and is conscious of the United States’ capacity to err. Whether he can succeed in foreign policy as well as Adams did remains to be seen; Adams was immersed in diplomacy all his life, whereas Obama is still finding his way.

The Bridge is a biography of a life still being shaped; everyone, including Obama, will know much more about who he is and what really counts to him once his presidency has drawn to a close. This makes for a book that in some ways is frustratingly open ended and sometimes feels unfinished. Nevertheless, it accomplishes the one thing that it needed to do: it encourages readers to ask the right questions about Obama.

Reprinted with kindly permission of The Council on Foreign Relations.

Jean Ferrat (Jean Tenenbaum) – 1930-2010

March 13, 2010

In Memoriam: Jean Ferrat (1930-2010)

“Avec Jean Ferrat, c’est une conception intransigeante de la chanson française qui s’éteint. Farouchement attaché à sa liberté et à son indépendance, il a toute sa vie pensé et vécu son art comme un artisanat, privilégiant constamment l’authenticité et l’excellence à la facilité consumériste des standards commerciaux. Jean Ferrat était avant tout un militant de la chanson française de qualité, démontrant qu’elle n’avait pas besoin de renoncer à un certain niveau d’exigence pour être populaire”. Président de la République Nicolas Sarkozy

Merci pour la leçon, Jean: être un homme debout dans la vie envers et contre tout!

The Battle Hymn of The U.S. Republic

February 22, 2010

The Battle Hymn of the Republic is usually heard at the national conventions of both the U.S. Republican Party and Democratic Party and is often sung at Presidential Inaugurations.

Words from the first verse (“He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored”) inspired John Steinbeck to title his 1939 masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath.

The US Army paratrooper song, Blood on the Risers, first sung in World War II, is set to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic appear in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermons and speeches, most notably in his speech How Long, Not Long from the steps of the Montgomery, Alabama Courthouse on March 25, 1965 after the 3rd Selma March, and in his final sermon I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, delivered in Memphis, Tennessee on the evening of April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination.

In fact, the latter sermon, King’s last public words, ends with the first lyrics of the Battle Hymn: “And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Zahal-Orchester auf Tour in Deutschland

November 10, 2009

Keren Hayesod Deutschland

Keren Hayesod Deutschland veranstaltet zwischen dem 14. und 23. November 2009 eine Konzertreihe mit dem Orchester der Israelischen Verteidigungsstreitkräfte (ZAHAL).

 Termine in Deutschland

14.11.2009: Jüdische Gemeinde Dortmund

16.11.2009: Jüdische Gemeinde Hannover

17.11.2009: Jüdische Gemeinde Kassel

19.11.2009: Sankt Marienkirche, Stralsund

21.11.2009: Jüdische Gemeinde Hamburg

22.11.2009: Kraftwerk e.V., Chemnitz

23.11.2009: Historische Rathaus, Nürnberg



Keren Hayesod Berlin

Kurfürstendamm 196 – 10707 Berlin

Tel.: (030) 88 71 93 3 – Fax: (030) 88 71 93 50

E-Mail: kh.berlin@keren-hayesod.de

Bundestagswahl 2009: Der liberale Herbst

September 27, 2009


von Narcisse Caméléon, Ressortleiter Deppologie der HIRAM7 REVIEW

Wir alle sind Egoisten, aber nur wenige verstehen es, das Beste für sich daraus zu machen. Die meisten Menschen passen sich lieber der Mitwelt an. Sie tun alles, um geliebt, gelobt und anerkannt zu werden. Damit machen sie sich zu Marionetten allgemeiner Verhaltensklischees und verzichten darauf, ihr eigenes Leben zu leben. (Josef Kirschner, Die Kunst, ein Egoist zu sein)

Ein Egoist entscheidet für sich selbst, hängt keinen Moden nach und redet niemandem nach dem Mund. Klingt unbequem? Nur für die, die uns manipulieren wollen.

In dieser Hinsicht können wir uns  über den unumstritten Sieg der Liberalen sehr freuen, die ein hoffentlich endgültiges Ende der Rot-Grünen Bevormundung in Aussicht stellt. Endlich Schluß mit der Tyrannei der Besserwisser à la Rot-Grün, die die von Gott gegebene Freiheit des Menschen durch (Rat)Schläge und Verbote einschränken wollen, um ihre eigene willkürliche Macht zu sichern…

Der Clou dieses Wahlabends: Ausgerechnet der Erfinder von Agenda 2010 und von Hartz IV, der Spitzenkandidat der SPD, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, spricht von sozialem Ausgleich und warnt vor Schwarz-Gelb…zum Totlachen! So sprach die Stimme der Selbstgerechten und Heuchler der Prosecco-Fraktion.

Die SPD und die Kriegspartei Bündnis Verrat an den Wählern/Die Grünen bzw. die Toskana-Fraktion-Linke (sprich Wasser predigen, aber Prosecco trinken) sollen in der politischen Wüste für die nächsten 20 Jahre krepieren, das haben sie reichlich verdient, nachdem sie ihre Wählerschaft jahrelang betrogen haben. 

Sic transit gloria lupi.

Die in HIRAM7 REVIEW veröffentlichten Essays und Kommentare geben nicht grundsätzlich den Standpunkt der Redaktion wieder.

Festival Interceltique 2009 – Bagad de Lann-Bihoué

August 17, 2009


Ensemble traditionnel de musique bretonne, le bagad de Lann-Bihoué a vu le jour en 1952 sur la base aéronautique navale de Lann-Bihoué, près de Lorient.

Cette formation musicale militaire est unique en son genre. En effet, elle est la seule à représenter à la fois la Marine nationale française et la culture celtique avec un répertoire bigarré dans le cadre de diverses manifestations nationales et internationales, notamment lors du 39ème Festival Interceltique, qui s’est déroulé du 31 juillet au 9 août 2009.

Send Bill Clinton a birthday card

August 5, 2009
billclintonfoundationClintonPessimism is an excuse for not trying and a guarantee to a personal failure. (William Jefferson Clinton, born 19. August 1946 in Hope, Arkansas)

Press Release

William J. Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock (Arkansas), August 5, 2009

After 40 years of friendship, Bill Clinton still inspires me daily with his intellect, compassion, and energy.

To celebrate President Clinton’s upcoming birthday on August 19, I invite you to send him a personalized birthday e-card, along with a gift to sustain his Foundation’s work.

Your e-card will make his special day even happier. And your gift will let him know that you remain dedicated to creating positive change for people in need.

Thanks to your valuable support and President Clinton’s extraordinary vision:

  • Two million people in developing countries now have access to low-priced HIV/AIDS medicine, and we’ve just negotiated new pricing agreements that will enable better, cheaper treatments for more patients in the developing world.
  • Thousands of schools across the United States have put healthy-eating and exercising programs into practice, so that more children are leading healthier lives.
  • To combat climate change, 40 of the world’s largest cities are making progress in reducing their carbon footprint.

Your donation today will help the Clinton Foundation continue to make a significant impact in the lives of hundreds of millions of people around our world.

I know your birthday e-cards and donations will mean a whole lot to President Clinton.

Thank you for your support,

Bruce Lindsey
Chief Executive Officer
William J. Clinton Foundation

Joining Hands with the Pope in Nazareth

May 14, 2009

Rabbi David Rosen, American Jewish Committee (AJC) international director of interreligious affairs, joined with Pope Benedict XVI and a group of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Druze religious leaders in Nazareth, Israel, for an oecumenical meeting and to sing a song of peace.

“It illustrated dramatically that religion does not have to be the problem but the solution and that it is up to politicians to engage religious leaders in the search for peace,” Rabbi David Rosen said.

Israel Independence Day 2009

April 29, 2009


Greetings from President Shimon Peres to the Jewish Communities around the world on the occasion of Israel’s 61st Anniversary

Jerusalem, April 27th, 2009

On the eve of Israel’s 61st Independence Day, alongside the celebrations, it is time for reflection and prayers for the well-being of the Jewish people, here in Israel and around the world. It is also a time to consolidate and strengthen the bonds that link the State of Israel and the Jewish Communities abroad, for we are one people with a common heritage, united in times of joy and united in darker hours.

The past year has witnessed Operation Cast Lead, launched by Israel in self-defense with the sole purpose of putting an end to the vicious and unjustifiable missile and rocket attacks on its citizens – innocent men, women and children – wreaking havoc and pain for the last eight years. Iran has continued to call for Israel’s annihilation, as it is set on developing nuclear weapons that threaten Israel’s very existence. The heavy clouds of the economic crisis that engulfed the world has also cast a long shadow over Israel’s skies, and affected thousands of households across the country. Anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Israel manifestations is on the rise and Gilad Schalit is still being held captive.

Since its inception Israel has had to grapple with complex issues and has always prevailed. Also today Israel will prevail. Its human resources abound and its creativity flourishes. Our vision of a bright and hopeful tomorrow for the Jewish people has not faltered. To that end, we must intensively invest in the future generations today through education – from the cradle to adulthood. We must continue to excel, and play a leadership role in the field of advanced science and technology, medicine and renewable sources of energy. It is essential that the mounting water shortage is surmounted by appropriate desalination projects, the desert greened and food secured. Job opportunities must be created and social gaps closed. Any divide in our society has to be bridged and our quest for peace must go on.  

This is our mission. From the ashes we have risen, and as we move into the seventh decade of the establishment of the State of Israel, there is much for which to be grateful and much for which to be proud.

Let us celebrate together Israel’s 61st anniversary, a Jewish people united and with unflagging hope in our hearts.

Yom Atzmaut Sameach!
Shimon Peres

Les Métamorphoses de Jacques Dutronc, enfant terrible de la chanson française

April 11, 2009

“Il faut plaisanter sur tout. Il n’y a que les concierges qui disent: La plaisanterie a des limites”. Jacques Dutronc, Pensées et répliques

Nanti d’un regard malicieux, revêche et ironique, auteur et interprète de chansons au vitriol mais néanmoins fantasmagoriques et tendres, flanqué d’un style maintes fois imité mais jamais égalé, Jacques Dutronc demeure, en dépit de ses presque 66 ans, qu’il fêtera le 28 avril prochain, l’archétype même de l’anarchiste de droite, mais aussi et surtout le maître incontesté de l’humour iconoclaste et intelligent de la scène musicale française des quatre dernières décennies. Bravo l’artiste!


Elvis Presley – His Last Farewell

January 8, 2009

Among numerous cover versions of the popular wartime ballade The Last Farewell is one by Elvis Presley on his last album From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee. This exquisite song is well suited to reflect the tragic and beautiful life of such a great nice man like Elvis Aaron Presley.

Words & music by Roger Whittaker – R.A. Webster

There’s a ship lies rigged and ready in the harbor
Tomorrow for old England she sails
Far away from your land of endless sunshine
To my land full of rainy skies and gales
And I shall be aboard that ship tomorrow
Though my heart is full of tears at this farewell

For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell

I’ve heard there’s a wicked war a-blazing
And the taste of war I know so very well
Even now I see the foreign flag a-raising
Their guns on fire as we sail into hell
I have no fear of death, it brings no sorrow
But how bitter will be this last farewell

For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell

Though death and darkness gather all about me
My ship be torn apart upon the seas
I shall smell again the fragrance of these islands
And the heaving waves that brought me once to thee
And should I return home safe again to England
I shall watch the English mist roll through the dale

For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell
For you are beautiful, I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell

Le Grand Meaulnes

December 31, 2008


“Il ne sert à rien d’éprouver les plus beaux sentiments si l’on ne parvient pas à les communiquer.” Stefan Zweig, Extrait de Clarissa

Stefan Zweig aurait pu appeler cet univers enchanteur le monde d’hier (Die Welt von gestern), qui n’était pas seulement celui de l’écrivain bref et tragique d’avant-guerre Alain-Fournier (en réalité Henri-Alban Fournier), auteur légendaire du Grand Meaulnes, mais aussi et surtout de toute une génération d’écoliers rompus aux âpres du devoir et de la droiture…à une époque où l’amitié demeurait une valeur indefectible.

Chapitre premier: Le Pensionnaire.

“Il arriva chez nous un dimanche de novembre 189…

Je continue à dire «chez nous», bien que la maison ne nous appartienne plus. Nous avons quitté le pays depuis bientôt quinze ans et nous n’y reviendrons certainement jamais.

Nous habitions les bâtiments du Cours Supérieur de Sainte-Agathe. Mon père, que j’appelais M. Seurel, comme les autres élèves, y dirigeait à la fois le Cours supérieur, où l’on préparait le brevet d’instituteur, et le Cours moyen. Ma mère faisait la petite classe.

Une longue maison rouge, avec cinq portes vitrées, sous des vignes vierges, à l’extrémité du bourg ; une cour immense avec préaux et buanderie, qui ouvrait en avant sur le village par un grand portail ; sur le côté nord, la route où donnait une petite grille et qui menait vers La Gare, à trois kilomètres ; au sud et par derrière, des champs, des jardins et des prés qui rejoignaient les faubourgs… tel est le plan sommaire de cette demeure où s’écoulèrent les jours les plus tourmentés et les plus chers de ma vie – demeure d’où partirent et où revinrent se briser, comme des vagues sur un rocher désert, nos aventures.

Le hasard des «changements», une décision d’inspecteur ou de préfet nous avaient conduits là. Vers la fin des vacances, il y a bien longtemps, une voiture de paysan, qui précédait notre ménage, nous avait déposés, ma mère et moi, devant la petite grille rouillée. Des gamins qui volaient des pêches dans le jardin s’étaient enfuis silencieusement par les trous de la haie… Ma mère, que nous appelions Millie, et qui était bien la ménagère la plus méthodique que j’aie jamais connue, était entrée aussitôt dans les pièces remplies de paille poussiéreuse, et tout de suite elle avait constaté avec désespoir, comme à chaque «déplacement», que nos meubles ne tiendraient jamais dans une maison si mal construite… Elle était sortie pour me confier sa détresse. Tout en me parlant, elle avait essuyé doucement avec son mouchoir ma figure d’enfant noircie par le voyage. Puis elle était rentrée faire le compte de toutes les ouvertures qu’il allait falloir condamner pour rendre le logement habitable… Quant à moi, coiffé d’un grand chapeau de paille à rubans, j’étais resté là, sur le gravier de cette cour étrangère, à attendre, à fureter petitement autour du puits et sous le hangar.

C’est ainsi, du moins, que j’imagine aujourd’hui notre arrivée.

Car aussitôt que je veux retrouver le lointain souvenir de cette première soirée d’attente dans notre cour de Sainte-Agathe, déjà ce sont d’autres attentes que je me rappelle; déjà, les deux mains appuyées aux barreaux du portail, je me vois épiant avec anxiété quelqu’un qui va descendre la grand’rue. Et si j’essaie d’imaginer la première nuit que je dus passer dans ma mansarde, au milieu des greniers du premier étage, déjà ce sont d’autres nuits que je me rappelle; je ne suis plus seul dans cette chambre; une grande ombre inquiète et amie passe le long des murs et se promène.

Tout ce paysage paisible – l’école, le champ du père Martin, avec ses trois noyers, le jardin dès quatre heures envahi chaque jour par des femmes en visite – est à jamais, dans ma mémoire, agité, transformé par la présence de celui qui bouleversa toute notre adolescence et dont la fuite même ne nous a pas laissé de repos.

Nous étions pourtant depuis dix ans dans ce pays lorsque Meaulnes arriva.”

Lire la suite.


December 31, 2008

Le désormais légendaire hymne à Montréal en particulier et au Québec en général interprété pour la première fois en 1976 par le non moins légendaire artiste québecois Robert Charlebois.

paroles: Daniel Thibon
musique: Robert Charlebois

Je reviendrai à Montréal
Dans un grand Bœing bleu de mer
J’ai besoin de revoir l’hiver
Et ses aurores boréales

J’ai besoin de cette lumière
Descendue droit du Labrador
Et qui fait neiger sur l’hiver
Des roses bleues, des roses d’or

Dans le silence de l’hiver
Je veux revoir ce lac étrange
Entre le crystal et le verre
Où viennent se poser des anges

Je reviendrai à Montréal
Ecouter le vent de la mer
Se briser comme un grand cheval
Sur les remparts blancs de l’hiver

Je veux revoir le long désert
Des rues qui n’en finissent pas
Qui vont jusqu’au bout de l’hiver
Sans qu’il y ait trace de pas

J’ai besoin de sentir le froid
Mourir au fond de chaque pierre
Et rejaillir au bord des toits
Comme des glaçons de bonbons clairs

Je reviendrai à Montréal
Dans un grand Bœing bleu de mer
Je reviendrai à Montréal
Me marier avec l’hiver
Me marier avec l’hiver

Elvis Presley Unreleased Gospel

September 20, 2008

“I wasn’t just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him. Last time I saw him was at Graceland. We sang Old Blind Barnabus together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There’ll never be another like that soul brother.” (James Brown)

“Fuck those people of the Scientology Church! There’s no way I’ll ever get involved with that son-of-a-bitchin’ group. All they want is my name and my money.” (Elvis Aaron Presley)

Elvis Presley was born and raised in the ‘Bible Belt‘ of the USA. He read the Bible and prayed regularly and was very knowledgeable about spiritual matters. In the seventies he started to include more Gospel songs in his repertoire and had the Gospel groups, the Imperials, the Sweet Inspirations and later, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps as his backing singers. He was also known to read passages from the Bible during his concerts. The most beautiful Gospel song Elvis Presley sang is probably Where did they go, Lord?

Where did they go, Lord?

The Religious Side of Elvis Presley

June 21, 2008

Elvis Aaron Presley – the most Christian icon of American pop culture – was Jewish.

In 1998, The Wall Street Journal published an article named All Shook Up in the Holy Land exposing Elvis Presley’s Jewish roots. Elvis’ maternal great-great grandmother, Nancy Burdine, was a Jew. Her daughter gave birth to Doll Mansell who gave birth to Gladys Smith who gave birth to Elvis Aaron. According to rabbinic law, which confers Jewish lineage by way of the mother, that makes Elvis Presley Jewish.

Schmelvis: Searching for the King’s Jewish Roots is a book about the Jewish roots of Elvis Presley.

The book includes the following discoveries about Elvis’s Jewish background: Elvis always wore a Jewish Chai pendant; he put a Star of David on his mother’s headstone; he spent his teenage years living in a predominantly Jewish Memphis neighborhood; cantorial records may have influenced Elvis’s singing style. According to the authors, Max Wallace and Jonathan Goldstein, Elvis grew up in a Jewish area of Memphis and as a teenager, lived downstairs from a local Rabbi, Alfred Fruchter.

The Rabbi’s widow, Jeanette Fruchter, recalls; “He was about 15 years old then and we got along so beautifully. He was such a nice boy, such manners. He called my husband Sir Rabbi.”

Thank You, Ireland!

June 16, 2008

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.” (Oscar Wilde, Irish genius born in Dublin, died in Paris)

The intelligent people from Ireland (the summer residence of the French statesman Charles de Gaulle, who loved this rebellious country) have saved the European idea of freedom and democracy on June 12, 2008, by rejecting the undemocratic Lisbon Treaty.

We have all so much to thank. for example with the unofficial anthem of old Ireland, Danny Boy.

                    Jimmie Rodgers & Johnnie Cash performing Danny Boy
The fantastic performance of Eva Cassidy
Just for fun: the incredible Muppet Show version
Lyrics written by the English lawyer, song-writer, and Oxford alumni, Frederick Edward Weatherly

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone and all the roses dying
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
And I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy I love you so

But if you come and all the roses dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me

And I shall feel, tho’ soft you tread above me
And then my grave will richer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall rest in peace until you come to me.

Oh Danny boy, I love you so…

Happy Passover 2008

April 17, 2008