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ISRAELI SINGER ESTER RADA COMING TO AUSTRALIA

Ester RadaIn March, WOMADelaide celebrates its 20th festival in Adelaide’s Botanic Park. Dozens of countries including Israel will be represented, showcasing talent from around the world.

Thirty year old Ester Rada from Israel will perform. Ester’s music reflects her Ethiopian heritage and Israeli upbringing and at the same time draws on American soul icons like Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin.  She sings in a mix of English, Amharic, and Hebrew.

Even with three languages to choose from, Ester will sometimes sing in gibberish. ‘It is the music I love, not so much the words.’ Ester says. ‘However, when I sing in Hebrew, I connect with my country. When I sing in Amharic, I connect with my parents, grandparents and family.’

Ester was born a year after her parents arrived in Israel as part of the mass Ethiopian immigration. She grew up listening to religious music, joined a choir at the age of 7, and discovered her passion for music. Her parents loved music and there usually was some playing at home. Often, it was traditional Ethiopian music on a masinko, a single-stringed bowed instrument.

Living in a very religious neighborhood, also meant she was exposed to the sound of traditional prayers coming from synagogues, Shabbat tables and festival gatherings.

During her teenage years, she rebelled against her Ethiopian heritage and culture going as far as to ask her mother not to speak to her in Amharic. Ester’s life at home was different from the life outside and, like many immigrant children, she was confused.

Today Ester serves as a positive role model for young Ethiopians in Israel. When she recorded “Nanu Ney,” it was the first time an Ethiopian song played widely on Israeli radio.

Ester considers herself a citizen of the world but still calls Israel home where she spends time with her family and friends when she’s not touring the world.

WOMADelaide is part of the the World Music Festival taking place around the world. With all the BDS activists against Israel, it is heartwarming to see that the WOMAD organization has not let politics affect good music. For this the Israeli and Jewish communities in Adelaide, Australia, and around the world salute and thank you.

 

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Kayaking Adventure in the Noosa Everglades, Queensland Australia

Kayak Noosa Everglades Queensland

Thirteen years ago I organized a canoe trip for teens from around Australia. We paddled for three days around the Noosa Everglades. I remember it being scorching hot and getting badly sunburnt. Aside from the sunburn, I have pleasant memories of, beautiful lakes, rivers, and birds.

My Friend Rob and I had been talking about doing a two week long canoe or kayak trip somewhere in Canada. I suggested we first try a three day kayaking trip and see how we go.Ben Kayak Noosa Everglades Queensland

We met in Brisbane, and with a rented car drove north, stopping at the Glasshouse Mountains for a walk. For both of us, it was our first time there, and we can see there are many more interesting trails worth exploring.

The next day we headed out from Boreen Point in a two person sea kayak. We had a weeks’ worth of food to last three days and we ate like kings. This was pleasant change for me. Usually, I would just take a few pieces of fruit, some energy bars, oatmeal, and pasta. However, Rob and I shopped together for the food, and because Rob likes good food, we had eggs, vegetables, and quinoa to name some of it.

The weather aside from being chilly at night (below 5c), was beautiful. We comfortably kayaked wearing long sleeved shirts. And at some points even wore lightweight jackets.

We met other people along the river mostly on the first and third day. But on the second day when we went further up, we sow no one. Both nights where we camped we were the only people and camping at night was peaceful: millions of stars, fresh crisp air, and the rustling of leaves.

Rob Kayak Noosa Everglades Queensland Rob being the adventurer he is, wanted to explore the river to its source, which we did. When we got to the point where we could go no further, Rob bush-bashed his way through the foliage while I relaxed on a sand patch.

I’m glad to say; aside from debating the most efficient timing the stroke and how it hits the water we got along well and are planning our next adventure.

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How To Get kosher Food Almost Anywhere In The World

For the Kosher Jewish traveler, finding food can be an issue. In some places, like in the United States it is not to hard to find plenty of kosher products in any major super market but what about in places like Japan or in Russia?

David, founder of Kosherwhere David Looking for Kosher foodDavid Avital, a 32 years old software engineer and entrepreneur has the answer. David lives in Israel, where kosher food is readily available. But David for a number of years worked at Marvell semiconductor as Marketing Manager. “My job, says David, “had me doing so much business travel around the world that I had to change my watch 3-4 times a month. At that time I was traditional Jewish and I found myself drawing closer to my origins while away from home. While being abroad I started to visiting local Jewish centers around the world and started to connect with my Jewish roots strongly. As I began learning more, I started to follow Shabbat and become a stricter kosher observer.”

David then had to make sure he had kosher food arranged along with his travel plans: Tokyo, Delhi or Las, he would get his kosher meals. “However, the process of ordering the kosher food in advance was a big hassle,” explains David. “I had to find the a kosher supplier in the destination, send an email, receive an email back, select meals, send back again and confirm that it will get to my hotel on time. I spent so much time on this, I had to buy kosher food products prior to my trip and carry an extra bag of luggage with me, just in case.”

After a trip to Brisbane Australia, and a headache of organizing kosher food, David decided to create a website, to solve the problem. It would connect the travelers to kosher suppliers anytime, anywhere. It would make the order process simple. David called the site KOSHWHERE a combination of Kosher and Where. The site now has more than 100 kosher suppliers around the world and growing every day. 

Click HERE for more information.

 

 

 

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Gay Pride, Jewish Gay Pride and the Torah’s View

This week gay marriage was approved as a constitutional right in the United States.  Homosexual couples can now get married and divorced, adopt children, get tax benefits, and inherit from one another just like heterosexual couples. Reactions to this news have been mixed.  Many people are in the streets celebrating their “gay pride.”  Yet many people are also protesting and calling these same people sinners and abominations.

Judaism specifically prohibits homosexual acts not only to the Jew but to all mankind. It is one of the seven Noachide Laws, included under the prohibition immoral sexual behavior.

Consider that of all things G-d felt important for mankind to live by, a proper code of sexual conduct was one of them. The Noachide laws include: do not murder, do not steal, and do not be cruel to animals. Thus, from a G-dly perspective homosexuality is a serious issue.

However, in reference to gay acts the Torah uses the word toeva which means an abomination. The Torah also uses the same word referencing a man who divorces his wife of a second marriage and returns to marry his first wife – this too is an abomination to G-d. However, using only our own logic, we could say it is beautiful how he realized the depth of his love for his first wife and returned to her.

It is also important to realize that G-d’s commandments are for us, not for G-d alone. What difference would it make to G-d if we stole from each other or killed one another?

If a person and animal are happy together, a brother and sister, parent and child, minor and adult, and any polyamorous relationships, it is easy to ask what harm is being done. Why can’t they be together if they love each other?

Also, why not allow death duels if both parties are happy? Who are we to intervene with intertribal stealing that has been going on millennia? Why should we stop someone from committing suicide? It’s their life after all!

But it is the deeper unseen realm that can have catastrophic effects on man, which only G-d can see. Sometimes what we see as progression is regression. We all want to believe we are living in an advanced society and no longer holding to backward codes of practice. We no longer stone criminals or conduct public hangings. But are we truly an advanced society when we can give a murderer like Martin Bryant a 1035 year sentence for killing 35 people and injuring 23 others in a shooting spree in Tasmania?  Maybe it’s a good thing people don’t live to a thousand years.

I’m not advocating we stone people or suggesting whether or not gay pride is going forward or backwards, but we must be aware how true our progressive thinking is.

So how should we as Jews handle the news from America?

There are several points to consider:

  • Science currently shows that homosexual attraction is biologically different in the brain.  Science suggests that like the color of one’s skin, it cannot be changed.  But unlike skin color, which has no bearing on anyone’s actions or nature, homosexual attraction can and does lead to homosexual acts, which are explicitly forbidden by Torah law.
  • In Judaism, we are meant to show compassion for others and to judge them favorably.  Yet, we must actively discourage Torah violations.
  • Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) teaches that we cannot understand another person’s struggles unless we have lived their life.

The conclusion we can draw from these somewhat conflicting points is that we can neither condone such behavior nor should we condemn the individual.  Judaism cannot endorse gay pride any more than we could endorse kleptomaniac pride.  Yet even while we are clear on our moral standards, we should approach gay people with compassion and a willingness to help them overcome their own personal challenges should they choose, just as we would with any individual, no matter what they feel challenged with.

In turn, homosexual Jews (and non-Jews) should not flaunt their homosexuality.  It is the difference between a Jew who says, “I eat pork even though I know I really shouldn’t,” and the Jew who says, “I’m a proud Jew attending a Yom Kippur Lunch where roast pig on a spit is being served.”

The problem with embracing and celebrating gay pride goes beyond just supporting others in their violation of a biblical commandment. Once we begin to actively support something that is morally wrong, suddenly other morally wrong actions don’t seem that bad.

Take this week’s parsha for example.  The Jewish men sin sexually with Moabite and Midianite women.  That seems bad enough, but they actually do it fully in public view – they are not ashamed.  From that immoral behavior, they then begin to worship other gods.  One act of immorality in which they took pride eventually led to other sins, as well as to a massive plague.

As Jews, it is our obligation to be a light unto the nations and sometimes that means standing up for what the Torah teaches is right even if the rest of the world is against it.

With the above all said, there is a deeper underlying issue which is not about gay pride celebrating their marriage rights. The question is, what does marriage mean?

One upon a time marriage was a sacred act performed as a religious ceremony. It still is today for many people in diverse cultures. But in the West, marriage for many has become more of a formality than anything else.

After we married in Israel and returned to the United States, rather than a lengthy and expensive process of translating our Israeli marriage certificate and going to court to have our marriage recognized, we paid a marriage celebrant in Virginia $50, and with a fifteen minute ceremony we were married again. If we were in Las Vegas perhaps we could have done it in five minutes at a drive through ceremony.

Perhaps what is going on is: those who see marriage as a sacred union under G-d between a man and a woman, are against gay marriage. Those who see marriage as a mere formality are fine with gay people marrying, and in a way they are right.  If two people regardless of their sex or sexual orientation want to inherit one another and receive tax breaks and the like then why not?

Please G-d may we merit divine revelation and truth in our time.

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Akiva’s 3km Birthday Walk

https://www.chuffed.org/project/akiva/

Hi,

My name is Akiva. I am turning three years old. I love walking and even running when my daddy can keep up with me. My third birthday is in May and I will take my biggest walk ever of 3km. So far the longest walk I have done is 2.4km.

I want to help someone else who can’t walk. They are missing a leg and need a new one.

https://www.chuffed.org/project/akiva/

For my birthday present, please give at least $3. If 110 friends each give $3 it will almost be enough to buy a new leg for a child in a poor country. But if you can give $5 or $10, even better.

(Cost of fitting a child with a prosthetic leg is $300 US)

Last year I walked 2km for my second birthday and we raised $180 for Clown Doctors.

https://give.everydayhero.com/au/akiva

Now I am older and stronger and ready for a bigger walk. You can count on me.

Thank you so much.

Love,

-Akiva

PS. You may be worried that my daddy is pushing me to do this, but really I love walking. We walk all the time. Whenever we come home from a walk, I ask to go ‘a walk’ again.

https://www.chuffed.org/project/akiva/

Hi,

- My name is Ben. I’m Akiva’s dad and I’d like to say hi. I am a passionate walker and it does not surprise me that Akiva has taken to walking. He is sad when I need to explain to him that he can’t join me on a 100km hike. Perhaps when he is older.

Akiva is, thank G-d, healthy and fit. He loves his carrots, spinach, and broccoli and goes to the creche at the gym three times a week.

Akiva may not fully understand that he is raising money for a great cause, but I am sure he will enjoy every minute of the walk. During last year’s 2km walk he even insisted on walking extra!

What Akiva raises will go to:https://www.limbsinternational.org

It costs $300US to fit a limb. So really we need to raise closer to $375AUD. Limbs International will select a child, help them walk again and then send Akiva a picture of the child he has helped.

Thank you for being a part of this,
-Ben

 

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