No Crime Committed.

On the 27th of January two orthodox Jewish men were attacked.  Closing their shop, a cctv recording shows the men innocently start to walk down the street, a man passes them, and then turns back towards them and says something.  The fear and shock of the men is clear to see from the video, as 18-year-old Malachi Thorpe launches an unprovoked, vicious attack on them.

Malachi is unfit to stand trial, according to his lawyers as he was suffering psychosis during the attack, and, they say, was unaware of his actions.  

To explain what psychosis is please see below taken directly from the NHS website:

Psychosis is when people lose some contact with reality. This might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear (hallucinations) and believing things that are not actually true (delusions).

Symptoms of psychosis

The 2 main symptoms of psychosis are:

Hallucinations – where a person hears, sees and, in some cases, feels, smells or tastes things that do not exist outside their mind but can feel very real to the person affected by them; a common hallucination is hearing voices

delusions – where a person has strong beliefs that are not shared by others; a common delusion is someone believing there’s a conspiracy to harm them

The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can cause severe distress and a change in behaviour.

Experiencing the symptoms of psychosis is often referred to as having a psychotic episode.

As a person with bipolar disorder, the events in Stamford Hill, the arrest, and the claimed inability of the accused to stand trial is upsetting and frustrating.

Having suffered from severe psychosis on many occasions the story does not make sense to me.

First, Malachi Thorpe has as yet not seen a mental health professional, which gives rise to the question “who gave the diagnosis of psychosis”.

Second, after watching the video on slow motion, repeatedly, Malachi is seen walking slowly and calmly towards the victims, and after his vicious attack walks away, again calmly.

Let me paint you a picture of a person who is having a psychotic episode.

We don’t walk calmly, we are all over the place, we are talking to ourselves rapidly, we do not usually attack people as we are overwhelmed with the voices, the delusions, the thoughts of everything we need to do, where we need to go. 

Our brains are racing, we think others are lying to us, they are hiding things from us, we could be the queen, the president, a doctor or even the Messiah. Most of all we are scared, terrified at the world around us. Nothing makes sense, people seem to be conspiring, we do not understand why no one will listen to our (what we assume to be) wisdom and advice.

I do not want to generalise, and there are many different forms of psychosis.  Personally, I go “high” I am in a safe place, yet a terrifying place.  Love overwhelms me, in all forms, often inappropriate loving feelings.  The belief that the world is just amazing and awe inspiring overcomes me.  Everyone is my friend and I feel the need to give everyone gifts, hugs, money etc.

Malachi Thorpe may very well have been experiencing psychosis, and I do not claim to know either way. I am NOT dismissing the fact that he may very well suffer some form of mental health illness, however there are too many inconsistencies for this story to be taken face value.

So many times, we read/listen to/watch about horrific crimes being committed, only to be told after that the perpetrator was suffering mental health issues.  Again, there are sometimes that mental health can cause someone to commit a crime, but the “get out of jail free card” is used far to often when it comes to taking responsibility for our actions.

There are amazing organisations, and individuals out there who endeavour daily to educate the world of the realities of mental health illness, yet a single headline claiming a crime was not committed as the perp has “mental health illness” can undo years of hard work.

The stigma of mental health illness will as a result never disappear, it will still be a feared, hushed, and hidden illness.

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“My Un – Or – Orthodox Life”

I have been putting off watching “my unorthodox life” life for a while now, whilst the world and its sister posted in their droves either gushing over the bravery and heroism of Julia Haart or criticizing her style, her views, her way of life, everything about her.

There were a few reasons I was hesitant to watch it, mainly, I do not have the head space right now to be getting annoyed with pointless Netflix series, give me series such as: Shtisel, Friends, big bang theory, how I met your mother any day, mindless, fall asleep with your phone ( and watch an entire series in your sleep.. yes it has happened!) shallow joy. There have been however things I have watched that start to get my blood boiling, bring on my box at speakers corner, I have so much to shout about it. (Usually though, not that many people are interested in my ramblings about Netflix) Netflix has become overtly sexualised recently, a prime (get it?) example is a series aimed for children called the next step, following teenagers (some younger) as they fight and bully and bitch their way to become the next star.

So, it was with caution that I started watching my unorthodox life. Honestly? I had nothing to worry about, first off, very much like the Kardashians or Katie Price I don’t quite understand what Julia is famous for? Sure she has a business, a very successful business, but so do millions of others, yes she has left the religious lifestyle (sorry… was that a spoiler) again, so have many others. could it be her looks…?? Noooooo, she mentions over and over again how she wants the world to stop sexualising women (interesting career choice there Julia). All that kept standing out for me, over and over again was one word “Hypocrite”.

Lets start with the way Julia describes the world she left behind, she goes to great lengths to make us aware that all the Jewish modesty laws are sexualising children, are showing how weak men are, how it is a terrible, restrictive world dominated by men. That girls from the age of 3 have to live fully covered from head to toe in case a man looks at them. Julia, look at your own life, you have gone from one world which you seem to despise in to a world where women’s bodies are on show, where the thinner you are the more successful you are. Julia encourages her daughter to “be herself, respect your body” but when her daughter states that she would like to cover up a little upon returning to their home town Monsey her mother actively discourages her. When the same daughter goes on a date her mother pulls out the skimpiest dress she can find for her daughter to wear, look in the mirror Ms Haart, see what you are before you demean others.

Julia spends a lot of time on this subject. From a perspective of someone who has been on both sides of the fence (being brought up religious, leaving the life for a while, and finding my way back) bear with me a minute.

Modesty is how you look at it, If you would like to make it all about men then maybe you need to look at your own feelings of low self worth. Being modest can be, and is beautiful. With a belief in God, comes a belief that we all have a part of God inside of us. He gave me the body I have, the looks I have, why would I want to share my precious gift? why would i want to walk through the street showing off my body for anyone to see. an old saying compares this with someone who has a rare and stunning jewel. Does that person run around the street showing passers by their jewel? or do they protect it? keep it safe, keep it covered and only share it with the one they trust. I can understand that in the very Hasidic world, the way the girls dress from an extremely young age can look to us to be extreme. However it is not for someone like Julia Haart to let us know that, not when she is encouraging her daughter to go to the other extreme and let all and sundry view her body. Live and let live is a saying that keeps coming to mind.

Another aspect of the show that really struck me was how adamant Julia is to convince her one son Aron who is still religious to leave his path, a path he has thought through and made his own decision about. If Julia is so concerned with letting people be who they are, why not let him be? The pain she has caused her ex husband is clear to see. When her daughter takes it upon herself to change her surname (ridding herself of the last remnants of her previous life ) she wants to tell her father and do it in a respectful way. Her mother spends rather to much time convincing her not to have respect for the community her father lives, in, not to cover up so as not to offend that community etc. What kind of mother discourages respect from her children?

On Facebook and Instagram there are post after post from pretty religious women, smiling in to the camera, surrounded by her equally pretty family, stating look at my life. I am not the downtrodden, tied to the kitchen sink lady that my unorthodox life would have us believe. Kudos to all of them. They have such a valid message, they are saying, we are Dr’s, we are lawyers, dance teachers, scientists, an Olympic medallist! We love being orthodox, it is not a restrictive lifestyle, it is a lifestyle we choose because we are thinking people and know it is good.

Choosing to be orthodox brings its challenges, yes there are restrictions, for example now, in the heat it is hard, and there is no one who can say its not uncomfortable and sometimes restrictive to have to cover our elbows, knees and if married our hair, but we are not wearing sackcloth, we are wearing blue, black, pink, green, orange, yellow, purple, indigo (Oh I can see a rainbow…) … with the restrictions comes so much good, which far outweigh any issue we have. Community is one advantage (again this can come with challenges, if one does not quite “fit in” ) being amongst a community has so many advantages. Help when and where is needed, non profit organisations lending (for free) ANYTHING anyone could ever need. meals for the sick, organisations for children and their families who are terminally ill, food for the needy, money for those who are struggling and so much more. Self pride. Shabbat and holidays, learning the Jewish way of life, which entails from an early childhood, kindness, respect, honesty and so much more.

There are others though who do not feel they can, for whatever reason post pictures of themselves on Facebook, whether it is an inherent modesty, the knowledge that they do not need millions of people looking at their pictures, or just not having the confidence ( we are not all size 8 and lawyers.. shocker I know) we are the onlookers, the ones cheering from the sidelines. There are women out there who are not employed outside the home, but what superwomen they are, bringing up families of 10, 12 even 15 children. How talented and skillful does one need to be to cater, clean, be a therapist, nurse, financial adviser, mum, friend to so many children… I am in awe.

One comment on facebook really struck me, a man who obviously has had some bad experiences replied to a post by a lady who is a dance teacher, a women who used to be on stage and left the life behind, realising that there is more to life then fame, who understood that yes, she could use her talents and be orthodox ( she opened a dance school for religious girls ). The gentlemen stated, “All you women who are showing us your orthodox lifestyle have been indrocrinated, you do not actually know how to think for yourselves”. What an insult! how misguided, how utterly ridiculous.

I leave you with this message. Julia Haart has done herself no favours, she has shown herself up to be an attention craving, delusional person ( preaching to us about how sexual the religious world is whilst working in the fashion industry ) Orthodoxy is a choice, an orthodox women has thought, read and understood why it is a good choice for them. We can do anything we want. We can look beautiful and be modest. We can communicate and get on with the wider world, we do not live in a little box where the outside world does not exist. Every day, we make the choice to live a respectful, fulfilling life. There are many who have suffered horrendous abuse within the orthodox community. Those who have struggled with fitting in to a certain lifestyle ( as I have) but the beauty of our religion is, there is space for everyone. There is love for every Jew, no matter how religious, there should be and can be mutual respect, but the respect has to go both ways.

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Covid -19 and Mental Illness.

Mental health is at the forefront of many people’s minds now, we are all struggling in one way or another. Whether we are at home, or at work, normality of life has disappeared. Someone may be surrounded by people for example family members yet feel incredibly alone. Thousands have been made redundant from their jobs; small businesses have been forced to shut. There are those adults, and children living in abusive, neglectful environments who have no escape. Many are finding the task of home-schooling an impossibility. The examples of those who are suffering now are endless.

The good news, the vaccine is here. every day around the worlds millions are being vaccinated, pharmacies have ques nightly with people desperately trying to be the lucky few who have the vaccines “left over”. It is a relief and a joy for those who have had the vaccine.

The order in which the vaccine is administered is:

1Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
2All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3All those 75 years of age and over
4All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)
5All those 65 years of age and over
6Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group (see clinical conditions below)
7All those 60 years of age and over
8All those 55 years of age and over
9All those 50 years of age and over
10Rest of the population (to be determined)

These guidelines were set up  by the JCVI (Joint committee on vaccination and immunisation) (Above taken from the Mirror online.)

The elderly, frontline care staff, the clinically extremely vulnerable are rightly top of the list. Of course, those who are caring for the vulnerable must be vaccinated as a priority, and the elderly too.

Members of my own family who are physically vulnerable, over the age of 70 and those who work on the front line of health have had the vaccination. My husband was among them. He is a fit, strong 53-year-old. His health issues do not put him at any more serious risk from COVID-19 than anyone else, yet he was called and told to come in for his vaccine due to a certain medication he takes he is considered vulnerable. I am happy for him, and relieved, however, when the call came through ( being the gentleman he is…) he politely explained that his wife (that be me!) is, in his view, more vulnerable than him, and would it please be possible for her to take his spot. He explained that I suffer from health anxiety and bipolar disorder. The anxiety the current climate is causing me is affecting my bipolar, and I have had some manic, depressive episodes as a result. He is concerned that the longer I need to wait the more anxious I become.

I am not downplaying the seriousness of physical illness. Of course, people with serious physical illness are more at risk, and again, it is important to stress that YES, they should (together with the elderly and front-line workers) be at the top of the list. There is though a group of people who have been forgotten.

As mentioned earlier, every one of us is struggling in some manner. Imagine though, having a pre-existing mental health condition before COVID-19 showed itself, living every day with social anxiety, depression, health anxiety, bipolar, Schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, the list goes on. Add to that COVID-19, and what do you get. Devastation among those who suffer from the above. Surely, the mentally vulnerable should be up close on the list to the physically vulnerable.

Gov.UK reports:

1.Average mental distress was 8.1% higher in April 2020 than it was between 2017-2019.

2. The proportion of people experiencing sleep problems increased from 16% before the pandemic to 25% during April 2020.

The below has been taking directly from:

Mind responds to ONS figures showing impact of coronavirus on people’s mental health | Mind

Mind responds to figures out from Office for National Statistics (ONS) which have found that rates of depression have doubled during coronavirus pandemic. 

Figures found: 

  • Almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
  • One in eight adults (12.9%) developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic, while a further 6.2% of the population continued to experience this level of depressive symptoms; around 1 in 25 adults (3.5%) saw an improvement over this period.
  • Adults who were aged 16 to 39 years old, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense, or disabled were the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.
  • Feeling stressed or anxious was the most common way adults experiencing some form of depression felt their well-being was being affected, with 84.9% stating this.
  • Over two in five (42.2%) adults experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic said their relationships were being affected, compared with one in five (20.7%) adults with no or mild depressive symptoms.

We are fully aware of the stigma, the misinformation and the lack of understanding people who live with a mental health illness endure. The governments of the world assure us again and again that they do all in their power to equalise physical and mental illness. Yet the guidelines above do not reflect this.

Agree? Disagree? let me know!

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Holocaust Remembrance day.

The Musings of Sara

Recently, I came across a post which made reference to the holocaust, one of the many replies to the post was “You Jews, you’re not seriously harping on about that still”.

This reaction is tragically a common response to Holocaust related articles, movies and lectures.

The word Yid has always had a negative connotation, Urban Dictionary has one definition that reads (I have had to cut out a few of the words)

“A yid is an annoying, short-arsed git, and they generally walk around with their chest puffed out and speaking in an irritating form of the English accent. They usually barrack for XXXX English soccer teams.

They may occasionally go on local soccer forums, telling people to stop bitching about flares at soccer games, when they’re only about 5’2″ themselves… This (among many other things) often causes people to wonder why THEY of all people would bring up terms…

View original post 969 more words

Holocaust Remembrance day.

Recently, I came across a post which made reference to the holocaust, one of the many replies to the post was “You Jews, you’re not seriously harping on about that still”.

This reaction is tragically a common response to Holocaust related articles, movies and lectures.

The word Yid has always had a negative connotation, Urban Dictionary has one definition that reads (I have had to cut out a few of the words)

“A yid is an annoying, short-arsed git, and they generally walk around with their chest puffed out and speaking in an irritating form of the English accent. They usually barrack for XXXX English soccer teams.

They may occasionally go on local soccer forums, telling people to stop bitching about flares at soccer games, when they’re only about 5’2″ themselves… This (among many other things) often causes people to wonder why THEY of all people would bring up terms like “XXXX” in the first place….”

Friday is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

When concentration camps were liberated, there was shock and trauma amongst soldiers.

Capt. William J. Hagood Jr., a doctor in the 335th Infantry Regiment of the 84th Division, wrote in a letter to his wife, “You must see it — and you are so stunned, you only say it was horrible. You can’t think of adjectives. We weren’t in the place two minutes before our eyes filled with tears.”

The article below, gives a detailed account of the liberation of Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps.…/auschwitz-liberation-soviets……/dachau-concentration-camp…

The holocaust is still in living memory, although the numbers of survivors, who can give testimony, are dwindling there are those who remember.

Those who remember Kristallnacht, one of the first signs of what was to come. Those who remember being branded, an everlasting memory of having humanity taken, and becoming a number. Those mothers who were dragged away from their children and babies, never to see them again, the fathers who were killed as they hugged their families. The children who had no understanding of the extreme hatred that was directed at them, who did not know why their parents and siblings had disappeared. The people who slowly starved, both physically and emotionally, all these and more, are slowly dwindling. Soon, there will be no living memory of the holocaust and it will go down in history as an event from long ago.

General Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, and who later became president of the United States wrote the following on pages 408 -409 of Crusade in Europe.

“The same day [April 12, 1945] I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.

“I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first-hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that `the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.’ Some members of the visiting party were unable to through the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.”

General Eisenhower knew that one day people would deny the Holocaust, there would be mumblings of “was it really that bad” “It was so long ago, move on”. His foresight is sadly showing in our world today.

We, as feeling, empathetic, caring people find it impossible to fathom the cruelty of the Nazi’s, we can question over and over, how does a human being do this to another human? To what depths can a person’s morality sink that they become able to subject another to the horrendous, unimaginable torture that the prisoners in the camp were tormented with daily. How does one send a baby, a child, a mother into a gas chamber?

These questions have no answers, we cannot turn back time. As Jews we keep surviving and telling our stories, we pass on our history to the next generation and entrust them to pass it on to theirs.

Lest we forget is a powerful saying. We will never forget, We cannot forget, Walking in to Sage Nursing Home we are confronted with the Holocaust on a daily basis. A Resident with a number tattooed on her arm, another who had to walk all night, as a young girl to try to reach safety, Those who remember the bombings, the shelters and the death..

When there are those who respond to Holocaust documentaries with “why are the Jews still going on about it” we know that we need to step up to our responsibility to bring forth the memory of those who perished, they are not able to give testimony, they have given us the language to ensure they are never lost.

Antisemitism has always been on the rise. We see articles telling us this, however it has never not been. The baseless hatred of Jews is irrational, but, it has always been, and sadly always will be.

This morning, outside a kosher shop, on a dustbin I see a crudely painted picture of a Jew, sidelocks flying, an extraordinarily long nose and devil horns. We, as Jews, walk past it, shake our heads, laugh it off, and move on. We are used to it; Jewish people are no stranger to hatred. At times your garden variety anti-Semites emerge, those who make jokes about Jews, those who have never met a Jew yet feel it is ok to mock them, these people become a noisy, very imaginative bunch. The ones that say, “get over the holocaust”.

At the nursing home I work, we have had and still have survivors of the Holocaust . We will never forget them. It is our duty to pass on their stories and their testimony, Because if we do not, who will?


The Shocking Liberation of Auschwitz: Soviets ‘Knew Nothing’ as They Approached


The Shocking Liberation of Auschwitz: Soviets ‘Knew Nothing’ as They Approached

While some had been driven from the cam

True Achdut (Brotherhood)

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the festival of Sukkot.

Sukkot and the last day of the holiday, called Simchat Torah, are truly festive occasions, during Simchat Torah the Shul’s are full, sweets are abundant, there is dancing, singing, rather a lot of alcohol drunk and in most instances the heartfelt love of our religion is experienced.

There is a custom for people to give out treats to the children, and whilst I do not know where this originated from, it is, according to all children, one of the most enjoyable and fun days. (Although by the end we mothers are fretting and begging our children to trade the sweets for a gift…. dentist fees here we come)

Over the weeklong holiday it is customary for synagogues to have something called a Simchat Beit Hashoevah, the men (and in some synagogues the women) come together and celebrate with dancing and singing, which can go on till the early hours of the morning

Sadly, I do not make it to Shul most Shabbat mornings, usually I am still fast asleep or lying-in bed berating myself for not going, but festivals are a time to be in the synagogue, especially ones such as Simchat Beit Hashoevah.

Standing upstairs, we have a lovely view of the dancing and rejoicing happening, a friend and I chatting happened to glance down and there it was, true Achdut.

4 men, each following a different path to Judaism, hand in hand, together, rejoicing and dancing.

4 Different yarmulkes, each representing the way he chooses to serve God. One in a Strimel, one in a suede yarmulke, one in a Kippa Seruga and one in a black velvet yarmulke. I pointed this out to my friend and we both looked on in silence for a few minutes.

Achdut is a goal. It is an intrinsic part of Judaism, the value of unity is undeniable.

Unity is not uniformity, we do not need to all look the same, dress the same, work in the same industries, send to the same schools or attend the same synagogues. When we talk about Achdut, we are speaking about living together in harmony, each of us with diverse interests and ideals, coming together to respect and cherish the other as another of God’s creations.

In fact, Achdut goes further. We could call it “The brotherhood of man”. There are different stages of knowing another. Some people we are acquainted with, we may know their family, live in the same street or area, work in the same building or send our children the same schools. The next level is friendship, which has so many different aspects and degrees, and if we know someone really really well, we then consider that person a brother. This is the highest point of knowing. Brotherhood.

Biologically this is incorrect, a brother is not necessarily someone with whom you share interests or goals, in fact it can be you have polar opposite views; however, brotherhood transcends any of these feelings, it is something that people share no matter their feelings or friendship with the other. It is a binding, lifelong connection that cannot be undone.

Brotherhood can be seen in many everyday experiences, for example, a sports team often will feel as their fellow teammates are brothers, a club or a class may also become a brotherhood.

We tend to look at others (something I have unfortunately been doing a lot this week) and loose our connection to brotherhood when we focus on external. The way a person looks or dresses, the size of their home or the accolades and letters after their names.

If we could all look away from those things that disconnect us. hold hands with our brother, no matter what yarmulka he is wearing on his head, how awe inspiring would the world we live in be?

A story is told of Moshiach( I do not know if it is a true story, but it is a nice story… and that’s what matters!) who approached God, “God” he begged ” your children have suffered for so long, they are crying out for salvation, please it is time ” God replied, telling Moshiach to spend some time in a certain city. A large city with many synagogues, and then, to come back and tell God if it is really time.

So, Moshiach goes to this city and enters a synagogue, it is a Chassidish Synagogue, and Moshiach is dressed in jeans and a t shirt, with a small yarmulka on his head. A few people glance at this stranger, dressed so unlike them but quickly turn away, no one greets or extends a hand to the stranger in the synagogue. Sadly, Moshiach continues along his way, and enters another synagogue, this time dressed as a religious Jew, with a black hat, and his Tzitzit hanging down by his sides, looking around he sees, the other Shul goers dressed in small kippot, long hair, sweatshirts and casual trousers, again, a few glance at him, but no one stretches out a hand, Moshiach finds himself becoming despondent, he continues along his path, ahead of him shines a beautiful synagogue, the light spreading out in to the night, “surely” he thinks, “such a big beautiful synagogue must be welcoming of all types of people”, Full of hope he enters the majestic doors. Gold and silver decoration and gracefully crafted chairs greet him. Moshiach sees he is in Sephardic clothing, he has darker skin then the other men and holds a different prayer book, no one greets him or offers to assist.

This happens continually, Moshiach goes from Shul to Shul, each time dressed differently, looking incompatible with his surroundings and repeatedly leaves heart broken.

He returns to God, ” I understand now, I see why your people are not ready for me” he sadly says.

Achdut is achievable, it is desirable it is reachable.

Our own worst enemies.

It has been a long time since I have written, perhaps this is not the time, perhaps I have no buisness writing this, maybe I should be worrying about myself and my family instead of focusing on what is going on out there, in my community, with my neighbours, friends and Jewish brothers and sisters ( Because, that is what we are, a Jew in Australia is my family even if we have never met). However it is bugging me, it is upsetting me, and the thing I do best when upset is write. So here goes.

I glanced at a newspaper this week, the London Jewish News, the journalist’s had taken on themselves to “expose” a terrible crime within the what they call “ultra- orthodox community”, see, it is only the ultra orthodox who are disobeying the rules, it is only them who are having parties, rioting, weddings, get togethers, that is why it was IMPERATIVE that the London Jewish News focused on the ultra orthodox.

Now, before you all start yelling at me saying how terrible they are, how could they be having weddings, hiding from the police etc. This is not what this blog is about. Hey, you dont need me to add to the obvious vitarol directed at the “ultra – orthodox” ( I would like someone to actually explain to me what ultra orthdox actually is… are they people who follow the word of the Torah to their best ability? the ones who wear big hats? the ones who wear small hats? or are they just Jews who dress differently to you and me and for some reason you have an issue with those who “flaunt” their Judiasm? )

Why, though do the so called Jewish newspapers need to add to the ferocious antisemitism that is already out there?

So, here is my take on what I would have loved to read in the newspaper this week. (sorry its not as gossipy and hate mongering as some seem to thrive on).



Friday January 29th.

This is Sara Benbassat reporting for the London Jewish Issues.

The house I have dropped off my package to is full. The dining room is a factory of food, toys and goodies for those in the community who are isolating due to one or both parents having Covid. As I arrive there are boxes being taken out the house for delivery. “6 families this week” my friend reminds me. 6 families whom will have their whole Shabbat catered, I do not mean they will get just the traditional gefilta fish, chicken soup, kugel and cholent, no, what these families will receive is, enough food for a month, toys suitable for each child’s age and preference, cards, and sweets.

What is important in this story is that none of the food items are shop brought. There is a system in place, via a Whatsapp group. The group has 65 ladies on it, every week the administrators of the group put out a message, detailing how many families, how many children in each family (if there are children) and preferences, within 10 minutes the group will have offered to make the whole Shabbat, some will make cakes and cookies, some soups, some sides, some desserts etc. On Thursday night the organisers will painstakingly and lovingly put together the boxes of food which are then delivered to the families in need.

This is one of many organisations.

Shabbat Walk, an amazing concept. Since the beginning of lockdown they have supplied an extraordinary amount of toys and gifts to families in need. They have sent volunteers to help out in a Covid safe way. They have saved families financially and emotionally.

Bikor Cholim (Meaning, visiting the sick). Another organisation run by orthodox and ultra orthodox ladies. Providing hospital rides, shopping and any other errands and support elderly people in the community may need.

Hatzola. A voluntary paramedic service. members from the orthdox and ultra orthodox community. Risking their lives to get to those who need help the most. At all times of the night, they are there, saving lives. transporting the vulnerable, never asking for thanks.

Shomrim, patrolling our streets keeping us safe. At the start of lockdown, the orthodox and ultra orthodox volunteers tirelesly drove round the streets with large speakers attached to their cars, playing music for all of us who felt alone, tired, desperate.

The orthodox therapist who started a Whatsapp group giving inspirational messages, and encouragment every day in a one or two minute clip.

The Ultra orthodox and orthodox synagogues ( I am not discounting non orthdox communities rather I am trying to portray the forgotten good in our community) who arrange care, food, financial aid.

The list goes on and on. I could open the Jewish phone book I have and find page upon page of orthodox organisations created to help people in any way you could imagine.

We have enough people hating Jews in the world, there is so much hatred towards our people. Why do we need to hate each other. Because you wear a blue hat, and I a black one? because you have a long beard and my family don’t have beards? Because you make a wedding and I would not go to one now? Yes, we can object, we can cry out the injustice of what others are doing, but look at yourself closely, are you following to the letter of the law?

As a Jews, ask yourself this with honesty, do you shake your head and spout nastiness upon the whole of the orthdox and ultra orthodox world becasue the London Jewish News has told you to?

Who will stand up for you if Jews are attacked, I do not mean orthdox jews, reform jews, ultra orthdox jews, conservative jews etc. JUST JEWS.

What is happening in our society? there is so much good out there, lockdown has brought people together in most communities throughout the world, yet the Jewish community, the community who we are told have a duty to “be a light unto the nations” is filled with self hatred and hatred towards our brothers and sisters, no matter what denomination they are. At a time when love and companionship is most needed, the Jewish world should be ashamed of how they are treating each other. A police officer mentioned to someone recently “your community is the only community spying on each other” and that, is the true Chillul Hashem, that is what brings shame to us.

Seek the good.

We have enough people to despise us, lets not despise ourselves.

How to protect yourself from corona.

See what I did there with that title?∧

Got your attention didn’t it.

So, follow these instructions carefully and within minutes your self protection will kick in.

  1. Log on to Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest
  2. Go to settings.
  3.  Scroll down till you reach the log out button
  4. Click on it.


Repeat steps 1-4 on all social media platforms.  then sit back, take a deep breath and revel in the quietness.

Having just typed the word Corona in to my WhatsApp search bar revealed that in the last 4 days I have received 46 messages with the word Corona in them.  This is after leaving a public group that I was on, if I was still  on the group the number would have been vast. Typing in to the Facebook search bar the word “Corona”, the first hit that appears is a group with the title “Corona” in big, dark scary looking font, the group had, when I last checked 15 million likes.  What there is to like about Corona escapes me, but each to their own.

Most, if not all conversations the last couple of weeks have revolved around the virus, the panic buying of toilet paper, pasta and hand sanitizer, the mass global panic, the hoards of people stampeding a supermarket is something I do not remember ever experinacing before.

It was only a matter of time before the jokes started, and below i have selected 2 just in case you are the only person in the world whose phone has not stopped pinging with these pictures:



My daughter has been very  anxious this week, due I am sure, partly to my own anxieties, which have been difficult to hide.  She is mostly worried about us running out of food, which, in a child’s mind is one of the biggest calamities that could happen.

(Side note to adults: wherever I  have written the word grass, feel free to insert toilet roll)

Trying to explain to her the concept of herd mentality helped me to clear the space in my own mind to start to be slightly rational.  I compared us all to a herd of sheep in a field.  One sheep whispers in to the others ear “Have you heard, grass is disappearing, you had better get all the grass you can really quickly otherwise you will surely starve”.  The sheep hearing this, runs off in a wild panic gobbling up all the grass he can find, other sheep start muttering to themselves, they look at panicky sheep and they to feel the panic start to take hold, and off they go, not exactly knowing why they are running madly towards the panicked sheep, but nevertheless copying what he is doing, because she obviously knows something we dont, all of them gobbling and snatching at the grass.  Except one little black sheep, the black sheep stands bewildered, she sees grass all around her, she knows that it will rain, which will make more grass grow, she sees her mummy and daddy black sheep sleeping peacefully in the corner and knows they will keep her safe, and as she happily goes back to minding her own business and grazing on her grass she thinks to herself “boy, all those white sheep are sure going to have an awesome stomach ache”.

The herd mentality is something we are all experiencing now.  Think about it  for a minute, the panic buying of toilet paper.  Huh?? why toilet paper of all things? surely it would make more sense to be panic buying every food good we can, toothpaste, batteries, medication etc.  One person somewhere in the world decided that toilet paper is the most crucial item to have at home in case of a world wide pandemic and the herd have followed.  ( Saying that though, I think I will take a break to check how much we have………ok, checked, we have 12 which I think, with rationing of 1/3 a sheet each should do us nicely for the near future )

On a more serious note, this week has found my “normal” anxiety levels ( which you may know are high at any given times) reach new levels. For those who have to self isolate, those who experience health anxiety, are vulnerable both physically and emotionally the period we are going through now must be awful.  Pictures coming out of China and other countries with a high rate of Corona shows people throwing themselves out of buildings, gangs beating people in the streets and more. The fear that is provoking some to act in ways that would and should be seen as horrendous.  As I washed my hands for the 7th time today the thought struck me that  for those who experience OCD with thoughts such as “if I do not wash my hands something bad will happen” their condition is now becoming even more extreme then usual.  The cancer patients who can not get hold of essential hand sanitiser for their hands, the elderly and the people who are socially isolated how scared and worried they must be.

Last night on the phone a friend imparted wise words.  Take yourself off WhatsApp groups, do not listen to the news, turn of the TV or only watch mind numbing series, take yourself off certain Facebook  groups for a while. If there is anything crucial you need to know, you will find out.  I can attest that she was correct, not having my phone beep every 10 seconds with another catastrophic news report, or even having the constant jokes has brought down my anxiety substantially.

Perhaps a way to calm our own anxiety is to reach out to those who, due to many reasons are even more socially isolated now, offer to cook for them, shop for them or just have a chat on the phone.  This morning I received an email from the Chief Executive of the organisation I work for.  He quoted a Rabbi from Los Angeles, Rabbi Yosef Kanevsky, the Rabbi writes:

“Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise”.

How beautiful, how perfect for today when we find ourselves in states of high anxiety, fear, illness and worry, to be able to take a deep breath, and ask what we can do for others who are in the same situation, or far worse off than we are.

Wishing you and all your loved ones, Health and well being.



Anxiety and Purim.

Generalised anxiety disorder is defined by Wikipedia as “An anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about events or activities. This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, and sufferers are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friendship problems, interpersonal relationship problems, or work difficulties.

Symptoms may include excessive worry, restlessness, trouble sleeping, feeling tired irritability, sweating, and trembling.

Fear of escalator’s, pigeons, sitting at a red light, being home alone may seem irrational, yet, those who experience daily anxiety will be able to relate to the ones I feel.
Anxiety disorders are on the rise, although some are easy to understand, the ones we all experience at some points, whether before an job interview, or long journey the nervousness we feel is considered “normal”, but what happens when anxiety follows you around like an annoying shadow, and no matter how we try to weave, and prance our way around it, it sticks to us wherever we go, whatever we are doing.
Those of us whom have generalized anxiety disorder will ask for constant, repeated reassurance and it is completely understandable that after being asked for that over and over again the one doing the reassurance will respond with a lot of eye rolling, believing we being hypochondriac’s, will not understand whey we cant just ” think positive” and will wonder why we need to over dramatize everything

Having bipolar, combined with anxiety can at times be a daily struggle, from waking up till falling in to a usually highly charged/ disturbing dreaming sleep, somewhere at the back of my mind are those worries, those negative thoughts, “Do I look OK today” “Who will I talk to in the playground at school today” “Am I a good mother, wife, friend, employee” “there is a pigeon over there….. runnnnnn”!!
Carolyn M. Drazinic, MD, PhD, assistant professor in psychiatry, genetics and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut Health Centre in Farmington says, “It is very common to see an anxiety disorder coexisting with bipolar disorder”
Having a combination of Bipolar and anxiety can produce so many extra challenges. 2 people with the same symptoms ( in my case long lasting, stomach pain ) will have completely different conversations with themselves.
Person 1:”This pain is so annoying, it disturbs me every day, I just cant wait for the scan so I can deal with it, I am a little worried because its so often, but the Doctor’s have checked me over and over, they have sent me for tests, if they were overly concerned they would have ordered urgent tests, I will just have to wait and see”
Person 2:”OMG! what’s with this pain? I am so sure that the Doctor has missed something. When I have the scan they are going to find something life threatening, so scared, its just not normal to have stomach pain all day every day. What about that story I read on line?? I am just terrified, should I go to the emergency room tonight?? I need to tell people about this so that they can reassure me, ill just text my husband, friend, therapist, colleague to tell them my stomach is hurting again, and ask them if they think it is something serious? Shall I call an ambulance? No I cant, come-on you know its nothing serious right? No I don’t know that, I am sure they have missed something”.
I think it is pretty obvious which person suffers from anxiety. Yes it sounds laughable, and as I wrote the above I found myself smiling, as I see clearly how often I have the above conversation with people.
Anxiety together with bipolar can cause so much unhappiness and exhaustion, coupled with the obsessive thinking that most people with bipolar tend to have, it can become overwhelming.
Presenting itself in many ways, anxiety can effect us physically, usually through a panic attack. The experience of a panic attack is terrifying. You feel as though your heart is beating at extremely high speed, breathing becomes shallow and you find yourself gasping for oxygen, sweating, trembling, and severe panic are all symptoms of a panic attack. I have not Thank God had a panic attack for a long time now, but I clearly remember the all consuming fear, the all encompassing thought that I was about to die. Eventually I found ways to control and keep the attacks short. This was through deep breathing, reassurance (again!) and listening to sleep mediation videos on you tube. I am ashamed to admit how many time I called Hatzola!

To paint a picture of what anxiety feels have a quick internet search for the Eshima Ohashi bridge in Japan, a a towering monster of a bridge, stretching in to the sky, once you have driven to the dizzying heights of the top, you are faced with the terrifying prospect of driving down the sheer, vertical road ahead of you. The fear you feel is akin to what someone with anxiety will feel going about their daily business, for example when for an unknown reason I developed an irrational fear of elevators , the picture in my mind was the same as I would feel driving up or down the Eshima Ohashi bridge. The elevator looming before me challenging me to step on. Thankfully now through sheer determination on my part ( pat on the back for me!) I am able to cautiously step on, though it takes me time and I dread to think what I look like to other elevator users, as I stand, a panic stricken look on my face, willing myself to take that first step.

With Purim just around the corner I am mindful of the stress and anxiety this Chag can bring. Social, financial, interpersonal anxiety can rear its head. This year I will let myself “off the hook” I will repeat the mantra that has become a lifeline, “I am OK, I am doing my best” and hopefully this year the costume I don will not be used to cover up my anxiety and fear but will bring me true happiness, free of worry.

Keeping Shtum

Last night I was on a battlefield

A war broke out on a WhatsApp group I am on.

The name of the group is “Chessed” which is Hebrew for kindness, on this group you can find messages relating to just about anything you may need at any time, it is a community group and extremely helpful. Need a ride somewhere, go ahead, ask on the group, a recipe, you can get that from someone, opening hours of a certain shop, someone on the group is bound to know.

Last night battle commenced on the group. an innocent post designed to help and educate people caused aggression, disagreements, anger and rudeness, the admins of the group tried to keep the situation calm, removed certain people from the group and informed us that the offending post was “completely unsuitable for our group”.

So what I hear you ask in bewilderment was the offending post? Brace yourselves, a screen shot of the post is below:


carolines law

And there you have it, a post encouraging people to sign a petition which could go some way in preventing future suicides, or attempted suicides.

The “offending” post was removed as was the person who posted it.

What ensued was a heated discussion, with people becoming very emotional.  As one person put it “if someone asks to borrow a phone, and someone lends it, that’s a chessed (kindness) but saving a life is not??”

It is situations like the one above which ensures the stigma and shame of Mental Health still continues to strive.  By banning posts which bring awareness to the sensitive subject of suicide we are in our own way reinforcing the message that Mental Health is not to be spoken about.

Saving a life is the biggest Chessed a person can do.

As I pointed out to the admins of the group ( after very emotionally and “loudly” expressing my disgust at them removing the post from the group) Caroline’s law, comes after a tragedy, a lady in the public eye, a beautiful person whom it seemed had everything to live for, at the time that she needed support, love and friendship the most there was no-one. How can we as empathetic, moral people stand back and let others suffer. Sadly the admins response was “remove your comments or be removed from the group”.

Our community is affected by Suicide as much as any other community, and until we are all able to stand tall, shoulder to shoulder and talk about it, nothing will change.


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